Managing data folders in the primary classroom doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In this post I’ll share some management tips plus how I’ve learned to use student data folders effectively to guide my instruction, but most of all, give my students a voice in their learning. Learn how to implement this valuable tool and pretty much make it manage itself. I’ve even included a free data folder classroom kit at the end of this post to get you started.
Teach Students to Understand Their Data
Explicitly teach students to monitor their progress and how to interpret their data. Make up a few sample graphs and project them to discuss. Ask students what they can determine about the example student’s progress. Guide students, through questioning, to be able to determine their strengths and what they need to work on. Discuss setting learning goals and possible ways to accomplish their goals.
Set Learning Goals
Once students understand what their data is showing them and how they can use it, teach them to set realistic and achievable learning goals. By setting goals, students can see what they have accomplished and what they are capable of. With your guidance, they can work toward successfully meeting objectives in a systematic way.
Make Your Data Folders Meaningful
Feedback from you makes the data folders more meaningful. Meet with students briefly to conference one on one or during small group times to guide them in setting their goals. The subject or activity you are collecting data on will determine how often you meet and set new goals with students. For example, if my students are tracking their Accelerated Reader (AR) levels and points, I would help them set a goal at the start of each 9 weeks. I briefly check in with several students each day to conference during our AR time. Tracking reading fluency would happen weekly or bi-weekly with conferencing during guided reading groups.
Feedback From You Is Key
Have a “coaching conversation” where you listen to students’ insights and interpretations. Give feedback that guides them in where they need to be and how they can get there. Encourage students to set small, incremental goals that are achievable. Setting clearly defined, realistic goals that include a plan for how to accomplish them, gives students a sense of pride and satisfaction in their accomplishments as well as motivation to achieve.
Set Up A Quick and Easy Routine
It’s important to find a routine that works for your class or you just won’t do it. Recording their data doesn’t need to take students a lot of time. Once they are familiar with the routine, it can be done in under 5 minutes without taking up your instructional time.
Keep data folders handy for students, rather than passing them out. I have students record math facts and weekly spelling as I pass back their graded tests. Teach students the format you want them to use for writing in the category- date, week 1, week 2, by standard, by concept etc. or provide graphs with the categories included.
I copy everything I use at the start of each quarter or even a year’s worth before I leave for the summer.
If you use data folders or are considering implementing them in your classroom, I’ve put together this free classroom kit to get you started.
This classroom kit has 4 different folder labels, 10 different graphs with scales in increments of 5 and 10. Differentiate easily with these graphs that go to 80, 100, and 200. Titled and untitled graphs are also included. This file is NOT editable, however, I’ve also included blank versions for you to write the title at the top of the graphs.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to this free Data Folder Classroom Kit. Make it easy to implement or update your use of data folders with folder labels, several versions of titled and untitled graphs, plus discussion questions to guide your conferencing and help your students in setting their goals.
If you found this post helpful, share it with your teacher friends!
Need help teaching your students to manage their own space?
Find helpful tips in this post, Student Spaces the Desk Fairy Will Love!