A colleague recently shared an article that included this graphic, which reminded me of my love of the visualization of data (I know … I’m a cool guy …):
Can you figure out what it shows? Check out the short article from the Guardian to learn more (hint: it’s about multiplication facts).
But the point is that when I saw this, it reminded me of previous attempts at gathering and organizing data into a data dashboard. I know that I am not the most organized when working with paper, but when I can keep data electronically, I am much more adept at making it meaningful. I always feel like this has potential for the way that I work with, teach, and assess my students, but I’m never quite there.
Thus, I set out again to try to imagine and create a place where I could easily gather and display data that I might gather in class. I sketched this as a starting place:
It shows a data dashboard (really), that displays a few simple data points – things I might want to look at frequently if my iPad is in my hands. It would tell me information like:
- Who filled out their reading log last night? Did everyone read for at least 30 minutes?
- When’s the last time I had a conference with each student? What did I teach them during that time?
- How many books has each child finished this month? How many pages has each read this month in total?
- When’s the last time each child took an AR quiz? What was their score?
I set off into Google Drive to determine if I could do any of this. My first attempt was at creating the following to gather reading homework data:
1. Google Form: The student visits the form in the morning and enters information about their reading homework from last night – the date, title, time read, page started, and page ended. (same information we currently record on a paper form)
2. Google Sheet: Collects all the data from the form. On a separate sheet, displays the most recent record for each student, organized in alphabetical order by student name. In other words, for each student, show only the information for the last time they filled out the form.
3. Google Site: On a webpage, displays the data from the Google Sheet.
Numbers 1 and 3 above were quite easy, but number 2 was not. If you don’t believe me, give it a try.
But here’s the point, it took me about two weeks to figure it out, and I finally did it. I didn’t get any instruction from anyone. I didn’t have any professional development. I just had to do it. I searched, I read, I asked a question on a Google Forum, and I tested, tested, and tested some more. It didn’t work, and I gave up … then I came back and gave it another go. I made a mini-version with three sample students. It worked. Then I hooked it up to the Google Form, and it didn’t work. I created a new version, and then finally I think I got it.
To me, technology is the ultimate inquiry. You don’t learn by being told or getting instruction or professional development; you learn by doing. If you need to find something, search it (you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can find an answer out there). And test, test, test, and test some more.
That’s why I love learning with technology. You only learn when you try, and when you try you always learn.
More on my data dashboard if it continues to work. I’m sure I’ll have some failures, but I that’s part of the fun.