Building an optimal learning environment in any school is a collaborative and shared experience between both the facility’s educators and even their students. Through the use of a classroom data wall and/or a data wall specifically for the use of educators, the progression of individual students can be tracked in addition to how the peer group is performing overall. These tools are being highly recommended by Australian education authorities today as an invaluable resource for teachers.
Data walls in classrooms or educator areas allow them to visually see problem areas, note successful changes, and collaboratively explore ways to create new instruction methods that help students better achieve their educational goals. Educator specific data walls allow instructors to recognise what methods and modality are successful and which ones require individual or systemic changes to deliver desired outcomes for students. Many schools actually develop new norms and protocols based off data over a period to promote growth.
Using Data Walls in Schools to Promote Growth and Collaboration
Before delving into the various ways to set up and use data walls in Australian schools it is essential to clarify the difference between a data wall strictly for educator use and collaboration versus data walls in the classroom used to track classroom projects, assignments and other information to be shared with students.
Due to the sensitive information contained on educator data boards such as student scores, achievements, trouble areas and overall performance, these boards are meant for the eyes of educators and other pertinent staff.
Confidentiality and security of data can be somewhat achieved by keeping this type of data wall in areas accessible only to staff such as professional learning spaces and team preparation areas for teachers. Most data walls are flexible and can be folded up and locked away to keep confidential information away from prying eyes. For greater convenience, many schools opt for mobile walls with wheels that permit easy transport between spaces.
How Data Walls in Australian Schools Promote An Optimal Learning Environment
There are a number of benefits of having data boards in classrooms and in educator spaces. Data walls can be set up at any time of the year, but they are best implemented for use at the beginning of a key point in a unit of work or the start of a semester. Here are some ways to use data walls to improve the learning curve and student’s overall performance:
The Ability to Link Data to Individual Students
These portable partition walls help educators associate data with specific student’s identities. This can be done by hanging a photo, name or by using an anonymous scanner code, numbers, sticky notes or a designated colour system. Data achievement levels can be indicated by a coloured dot system, numerical values or through specific codes. These levels can be related to any type of assessment chosen by the instructor or the staff as a collective.
Identifying and Moderating Common Assessments
While a classroom data wall is often utilised to note classroom goals, the status of class projects and group achievements, an educator-dedicated wall is most commonly used to document results of common assessments. Common assessments may include diagnostics, formative or summative notations, and testing scores that align with the Australian educational curriculum and achievement targets. This makes it easier to identify patterns and establish new learning goals and approaches.
Discovering Data Patterns to Set New Learning and Instructional Goals
A data wall has the ability to shift teachers into a ‘group thinking’ mentality, whereas seeing all the student’s information in one place gives them a sense of collective efficacy. Teachers also feel more confident in their teaching strategies when they see marked improvements in the majority of students, particularly if new methods have been introduced into the classroom. However, this data can also reinforce certain protocols that appear to be effective.
Educators can also see which students are excelling, meaning they may need more advanced classes or to be challenged more in the classroom. Most importantly, instructors can identify problem areas for specific students in addition to those who are falling behind in multiple areas. This can initiate an assessment for the student based off the collective teacher’s experiences and notes from the data wall. Armed with this information, teachers can set individual learning goals, establish new instruction methods class-wide or revamp old lessons into those that better meet the student’s current learning needs.
Mapping Student’s Progress Individually
As teachers are able to move those sticky notes or other measures of progress up on the data wall, there is a sense of tangible measurement noting their important impact on every student. This actually spurs them into action, searching for more ways to keep that progress moving forward and upward with every assessment period. As other instructors see what’s working for others, the collective thinking concerning instruction methods becomes invaluable through the sharing and creation process based off individual and class results.
Advantages of Data Walls in the Classroom
In summary, here are the key benefits of data walls in the classroom and for entire student body achievement information:
- Building a sense of shared ownership of overall school improvement
- Accountability reiterates the needs for data monitoring to measure effectiveness
- Establishing a collaborative effort around students who might not be highly achieving
- Easily understanding data allows more time for planning quality instruction
- Greater ability to utilise information to improve the learning curve
Data Walls in Classrooms and Schools are Budget-Friendly
Budget is of great importance for our Australian schools today, and there are high end data walls and other useful educational partition styled tools and implements that can be found on a budget—if you find the right supplier. However, this small investment can make a dramatic difference in the entire school’s performance beginning with individual performance all documented on a data wall. Learn more about how to use data walls and their importance to schools today in this short video by Canadian educator Dr. Lyn Sharratt.