One of the greatest things that I have ever implemented in my classroom was the creation of "data binders." I learned about these when I taught in Ohio and worked with some teachers who had implemented data binders in their prior district. They taught me about the purpose of data binders, how they benefit the students, the types of data that are beneficial to collect, and how to set them up correctly.
Purpose: To drive student performance, to teach students about effective goal setting, to encourage a growth-mindset, and to make students responsible for their own learning and reflective about their work. Research has documented that setting goals and reflecting on them can improve student learning over time.
Our data binders demonstrate...
-improvement or growth
-mistakes that we made and have learned from
-things that matter to us
-what our parents would like to see
-versatility as a student
-a sampling from all subject areas
-favorite books and pieces of writing
-things that we are working on that challenge us
-things that make us proud
Teaching students how to set SMART goals is one of the most important pieces of creating a data binder. One reason is that setting SMART goals prepares them for the real world and provides them with 21st century skills. Another reason for teaching SMART goals is that it gives the students a measurable goal that they can assess over time. We discuss the difference between, "I will get better at multiplication this week." and "I will try to score a 95% on my multiplication fact test by Friday." Which one is easier to measure and to tell if it was achieved?
I prefer to use a view binder for the data binder. Then they can tuck their cover sheet in the plastic view cover. There are also pockets to hold different papers and extra papers that we may need. We divide our binder into 5 sections: SELF, ELA(Reading/Writing), MATH, CONTENT, and GENIUS HOUR/PROJECTS. Within the SELF section we keep our weekly goal setting statements, interest inventories, learning style inventories, personal mission statements, and other types of papers that pertain to the individual child.
We also complete academic inventories about reading, writing, and math. We use this data to determine what kind of student we are and we watch for growth over the school year. We reflect on what we see and what we know about ourselves. The Weekly Goal Setting Form is something new that we have started using this year and it is great for getting students to keep track of their goals, reflect on if they are meeting them, and what is helping them or blocking them from meeting their goals on a weekly basis.
The students love to track their progress for their fact fluency. We practice our multiplication and division facts once a week and graph our progress in colored pencil. This chart really motivates them to go home and study so that their graph goes up each week. I send the data binders home every Friday for the students to review with their parents and share their learning. They are also great to use at student-led conferences.
Overall, data binders are a great tool for learning and reflective practice. It helps teach organization, goal setting, and reflection. I highly recommend implementing them in the classroom! Start small and then let them grow as you see the benefits of using them.