Today I’m feeling guilty, but I’m not sure if I should be, or if maybe, there’s a middle ground. Yesterday, I attended our Board’s Early Literacy Inquiry PD with various colleagues from my school. I was facilitating an afternoon session, so I missed our time to debrief as a school group. One of my colleagues filled me in on the discussion though, and I’m very excited about where we’re going next. There’s only one part that’s bothering me: how we’re going to track assessment data. Our Early Literacy initiative has many testing components, and we’ve also been collecting data through our regular interactions with students. The plan was that we would create binders to track our own data, and next year, to give to other teachers. I pushed back a bit.
Do I agree with tracking assessment? Yes. Do I think that we should be sharing this assessment with others? Yes. Do I also think that we should be using this assessment data to inform future practice? A very big YES! And it’s for this final reason that I pushed back. You see, when it comes to big binders of paper — highlighted, colour-coded, tabbed, etc. — I still feel like I did this summer.
So if our only way to collect and share data is with paper copies, then am I really going back to look closely at this data and use it to inform my practice? Probably not — most likely I will have misplaced it by then.
What I think that I want is a choice: the choice to collect and share this data in an electronic format. If others want to print it, no problem. Then I have it in a format that works for me, and others have it in one that works for them. While I think that we will likely settle on this compromise, I can’t help but feel as though my suggestion also caused some stress.
- Is it because multiple ways seem “messy?”
- Is it because the same anxiety that I feel about paper, others feel about technology?
A day after our discussion, I’m left thinking, is there a better option? What would you do? I’m a big believer in choice and voice, and I believe in this as much for adult learners as student learners. But I wonder sometimes, if we offer these choices enough — in our schools and in our PD sessions. (And when I speak of this choice, that doesn’t just mean going with my preference, but instead, allowing for multiple, viable options: paper, digital, and a combination of both.) What makes a colour-coded binder better than a shared digital folder, or vice versa, and is there a way for both options to co-exist?
Aviva,you describe the struggle so well. I sometimes struggle with both options: trying to document electronically and still hollding on to my personal binder of notes and observations. Do you capture the assessments through photos ? Any particular sites or tools that help.
Thanks for the comment, Emily! I wonder if it’s okay to have both options. Do they work for you? Do they allow you to see where your kids are at and what they need to move forward? If not, what’s stopping this? Maybe it’s the answers to these questions that determine if documentation needs to change or not.
I document using pictures and videos. I love PicCollage, and use it often, as then I can add in notes on conversations and observations. I think my problem becomes the storage piece. I tend to share my documentation through our class blog, and then I have an electronic folder with more formal assessment data and other notes. I don’t have a folder per child, as I look at the blog nightly, talk with my partner, and plan day-by-day based on the documentation. Would I need to change things then with this assessment plan? I could still share the blog posts with others, but does that help other teachers as it helps me? Sometimes I feel as though we spend more time considering the format of the documentation versus the use (of which I do use ours well in its current format). Thoughts? I’d love to know what others do in this case.