When working with my students in language and literacy I am always looking for data. I don’t, however, rely much on standardized scores and summative assessments. While helpful in a very small way, those types of assessments give me information more about me, the teacher, than about the student. I look for data that I can use.
Every time I have a conversation with students I make notes about their learning, sometimes mental notes and sometimes written notes. I try to keep track of their use of language and their thinking. Every time I read student writing I make notes about their use of language, their ability to express themselves and their accuracy. This is the data that I use.
This is the real-time data that shows me what students know and can do right now. That data is then turned into large group, small group and individual instruction as needed to move all students forward. I encourage students to make mistakes, use big words, enter into debates and not be afraid. It is through making mistakes, I tell them, that I can know what the next steps are in their learning. All done in a supportive environment.
Give it a try; it’s not rocket science. When we pay attention to the students they will show us what they need. When we listen and watch, we will know what to teach.