Teachers from previous decades may have focused on “What did I teach?,” but the new focus is “What did the students learn?” Whether classroom resources are digital or not, educators can collect data every day to inform their instruction. In the presentation “Authentic Learning Starts with Informed Instruction,” Michael Haggen, chief academic officer at Scholastic Education, and Suzanne Lucas, vice president of product marketing for Scholastic Education Digital Solutions, discussed how teachers can use formal and informal data to guide ELA lessons and make sure all students are receiving the education they need.
Although the majority of teachers now use some form of data-driven learning, Haggen and Lucas reminded attendees that both formal and informal data are essential to informing instruction. Reading assessments and other measures can provide a picture of where a student is at the moment and how they have progressed over time, but there are daily opportunities for teachers to collect important information. For example, unit projects, observation checklists, graphic organizers, and portfolios all provide insights into students’ progress and needs. Haggen said he liked to use writing portfolios with comments on each assignment. Both Haggen and the student could see how their writing improved over time as well as areas where the student still struggled.
A place for data-informed instruction
And while the ultimate goal is to improve individual student achievement, Haggen sees a place for data-informed instruction for every level of classroom lessons.
- Whole class: Here, educators should be looking at class proficiency in discrete skills, like understanding homophones or using transition phrases. Then, teachers can develop microlessons to target concepts where the majority of class needs further instruction.
- Small group: Teachers typically form these groups based on guided reading level. However, teachers could also look at shared interests and other informal data to develop the groupings. This allows the teacher to then provide students with lessons tailored to their skills and activities, which can make students more invested.
- Independent learning: This is the setting most teachers think of when they think of data-informed instruction. Students get personalized lessons targeted to their learning needs. It’s important, though, that students are not just left on their own for independent learning. The teacher needs to communicate to the student exactly which skill(s) the student will be working on and how progress or proficiency will be determined. This helps the student take charge of their own education.
While showing data available in Scholastic’s programs, Lucas reiterated that many literacy programs collect information. Teachers need to be familiar not only with what data they can see but also understand how they can apply it to their students. For example, Haggen used data-informed instruction to help create lifelong readers. Using student information, he would match students with authentic texts that spark their interest but are written for their reading level.
Finally, Haggen advised attendees to not discount student’s preferred online reading material. “That’s why it’s important that we also understand that students really actually like reading digital books… And it’s okay to do some of the shorter reading. I even encourage them going online and doing whatever reading they want which can lead to more reading and more reading of stories,” said Haggen. “I say do both. Do what you’re doing online with your Googling or Snapchat or whatever it is they’re doing as well as encouraging them to read books online too.”
About the Presenters
Michael Haggen is chief academic officer for Scholastic Education. In this role, he ensures that Scholastic is a responsive comprehensive literacy partner to pre-K through grade 12 districts nationwide. In Haggen’s 20 years of academic experience, he has served as a teacher, principal, chief academic officer, and direct report to superintendents. His hands-on approach has led to significant change, most recently in East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana, where he was deputy superintendent.
Suzanne Lucas is vice president of product marketing for Scholastic Education Digital Solutions. A former first-grade teacher, she works across Scholastic supporting new program development and marketing.
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