As we get to the point of analysing data for our TAIs, I would like to highlight something I read on Tabitha Leonard’s blog. And that is the link between evidence and data. Both are necessary. As Tabitha points out:
- DATA: is to do with numbers; facts; it is right or wrong. But data on its own is of little use. Data needs context. Quantitative data can include tests, PaCT, Asttle, marking rubrics
- EVIDENCE: can contextualise data. Evidence has perspective and opinion. We gather evidence of or for something and can include photos, blogs, reflection.
When put together, data and evidence analysis can put a stop to “data analysis paralysis.” Again, Tabitha Leonard. Evidence should go beyond the anecdotal gut feeling. It should be concrete and purposeful. And teachers should dig deep to understand the data, both its themes and the outliers.
With that in mind I looked at the results for my creative writing project. To set the scene. My year 10 students had all the resources at their fingertips in the form of their iBook This includes presentations, videos and step-by-step guides. We had quite a productive discussion about creative writing, why we place emphasis on it, why it is important. And we discussed how credits and word limits can crush the joy of writing. Being year 10, I also said that we have less restrictions than we will have when they enter the NCEA years, so I put very few restrictions on them. Again, I had students rubbing their hands in glee. The reason was mainly the freedom I was allowing them, within reasonable boundaries of course.
My gut feeling told me they were going to do quite well. When I spoke to them individually, I found the vast majority still loved to write creatively. What they don’t like is being told what topics to write on, and being given a word length. Of course that’s a necessary skill in itself which we are working on with their essay writing.
In addition, my year 11 class is run along pretty much the same lines. They also have all their resources in an iBook. It also includes a variety of resources. This year I didn’t give them the option of writing creatively or formally. The main reason is that they are not the accelerated class that I have taught for the past eight years. So I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and efficiently they got going on with their creative writing. What I really pushed, along with giving them freedom to work at their own pace, was teenage voice. I encouraged them to talk to their family to see if they had any stories based on their heritage that they could weave into their own work. They battled with keeping their work succinct, but got there in the end. And I also worked hard on avoiding the typical teenage action: after that last full stop they hit the submit button, with no editing at all. We spoke at length about prototyping and editing.
Again, I was really pleased with the results overall. Bearing in mind that for fairness, we don’t mark our own students’ work. The two not achieved marks were really beyond my control as they were linked to attendance issues. My next step will be to work out how to shift the achieved grades up to a merit grade. Thinking cap on for the next assessment.
But the real take-away is that I had one student who handed in his first draft, and got a not achieved grade. The comment from the marker was “Great ideas, pity about the errors.” Fortunately he had been overseas and had been granted an extension. We discussed the error patterns. And after editing he resubmitted. This time, the same marker gave him an excellence.
Now that’s a story I’ll be retelling for a few years.