Reflecting on Data: Rm. 202 BOT Graphs

Last week I shared our story of the tightening up that has happened lately in Rm. 202.  It was based on this picture of our day last Wednesday:

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We decided (ok, well Evan and Emily really had the idea) to keep track of our behavior every day, and to use our Behavior Over Time charts to help better guide our choices.

We started by drawing a blank chart, and then over the last week have gotten in the routine of stopping briefly after each portion of our day to reflect on how it went.  Kiddos think about where they think the dot should go (based on their behavior + or – or so/so) and then I move my finger up the chart and kids raise their hands to show when they think I should stop.  Once we draw the dot, we talk about what evidence they have that supports that choice.  Instead of just saying “It’s good,” they have to provide real reasons why that makes sense.  As a class we come to a consensus about what is the right dot placement.

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Our first day’s try.  We decided after this day that we needed to define the top of the chart so we could show what the highest choice was for our dot.  We were excited that the line on this graph went up throughout the day.

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Sorry about the lighting on this one!  We added the top line, as well as the “so/so” on the side today to help us better define our choices.  We also focused on giving really specific reasons for our dots, as well as positive ones.  Instead of saying we weren’t doing this or we weren’t doing that, we tried to make sure we listed what we WERE doing that helped our behavior be at that particular level on the graph.  This one made us happy because it was straighter than yesterday’s and almost the whole day was at the top of the graph!

We left for the weekend feeling really great about the changes we’d made in our classroom, and agreed during our class meeting that we were on a much better track than we had been even just a few days before.  We had been thinking about how our choices impacted the whole class (not just ourselves!), and how if we certainly can try to influence our friends, we are ultimately only in charge of our own decisions.  When I asked kiddos to tell me what they thought the last two days had been so much better, many said it was our Xs system and their wanting to make sure they got the reward, but I think Sara really nailed it when she said that our BOT graphs help us see how we’re doing.  We are definitely a bunch of visual learners (me included!), and having things around that remind us of what to do or help us better understand what’s going on is extremely helpful.

On Monday, our graph looked like this:

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We noted that something odd much have happened during math, and the data we were keeping was helpful in our seeing how our behavior really trends during the day.

As we started Tuesday, we talked briefly about a goal that we could make for ourselves after looked at the behavior data we had collected the day before.  Many mentioned that we had to do a better job of listening, working hard and cooperating during math so our dot could move up.

Here is our Tuesday BOT graph:

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Notice anything? 

Let me show you again, side-by-side:

We founded it the oddest thing that they were almost identical!  This was puzzling to us, but obviously gave us good data that we had something specific to work on for Wednesday: math time.

As we started our day today, I had them think about goals again, but had them write them down.  This way we could be more clear on what we had decided to work on, and by announcing our intentions, it made it more likely that we would make them happen.

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Another thing that we added to our routine today was that each kiddo got their own BOT graph to mark.  Amber and Millie had started doing this independently the other day, and it seemed like a super idea to share with the whole group.  We us a LMS called eBackpack that allows me to easily push out documents to kiddos, lets them mark them up and then send them back to me.  Easy as pie I took a picture of our blank chart at the beginning of the day and each student was responsible to mark THEIR behavior throughout the day today.  This also added a level of authenticity to our class dots, as kiddos used their personal marks to inform their decision for our collective one.

They were pleased to try this for themselves, and were very motivated to give good evidence for their dot choices, as well as keep their graph up at the top.  I heard lots of kids say things like “Wow, this is a great day!” or “Look at my graph, it’s practically straight!” or “I need to make my dot move up next time.”  It was great to listen to how they were really thinking through the cause and effect of the whole thing, their motivation to do well and how we had good evidence for that description of the day as a “good one.”  We could point to specific things we had done (or not done!) that helped make our day successful.

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Here’s today’s graph:

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We were SO pleased with where our math dot ended up today!

Here are a few of kiddo graphs from the day:

We were also able to have a great conversation about our afternoon today; it was Wednesday last week when this whole mess started anyway.  Reflecting on our behavior using hard data was so helpful!

I’m not sure how long we will keep this up.  As with most things we do it’ll be around as long as we need it, and usually it’s the kiddos who help me decide when that is.  We’ll try the personal graphs again tomorrow and Friday and maybe even find a way to incorporate them with weekly reflection sheets.  I hope to be able to send them home at some point, too, to help spur conversations around dinner tables about data collection at school!

If you have a second, please leave us a comment and tell us what you think, or better yet, what questions you have.  We LOVE to know that people are reading about our learning!

Read Aloud = Another Learning Time

Read aloud is kind of a big deal in my room.  I wrote about it briefly here last year.  Hopefully here’s more to the story. 🙂

I think that reading is important.  Reading is making meaning, understanding both what the words say and what they mean.  Understanding text as you hear it is an important skill, in addition to being able to comprehend the text you read for yourself.   Time is also important, and the time we have during our school day is precious.  So being able to get extra bang for your learning buck is really great.

Read aloud–or “chapter book” time–is that time for me.  I use this time to expose my students to great literature, books that they may not otherwise have heard of, as well as to discuss topics that we need to delve into (bullies, families, respect, etc.) and introduce and then practice reading strategies that I want students to use in their independent reading.

The first RA of the year is also a fun, easy one, that everyone can easily relate to and begin to make connections around.  This year (as well as last), I started with The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  It’s a great story about kids who play practical jokes on each other, who come from interesting families and who just do typical “kid stuff” as they go through their days.  This fun, joyful story gets my students in the mood for fun as readers, and helps me set the stage for harder work I’ll have them do as the year goes on.  During this first book is also when I introduce the partner and thinking structures we’ll use throughout our time in RA.  The first one is called “say something,” and is really just what it sounds like: I stop at certain points in the story–where there is probably something that the students can react or relate to–and have them “say something” to their partner.  In the beginning there are no rules for these conversations, but eventually we structure the conversations to include thinking that good readers do, like making connections, making predictions, inferring something, reacting to something funny, telling a part that they really liked, summarizing, etc.    At the end of the first chapter book, we begin our Read Aloud Timeline.  Well, actually we start the current year’s section of the timeline, which dates back a few years with past classes.  It hangs on the wall around our room like this:

Hopefully you can see it up there–up near the ceiling.  Images taken from each book we read during our year together, chosen by the class as a whole.

The beginning of this year’s section looked like this:

Devan’s image of a water fight that breaks out while the characters are supposed to be washing the windows was chosen to grace our wall as the first picture this year!

Our second book this year was Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea.  This one is nominated for the Mark Twain Award, which we choose for the state of Missouri.   I usually read at least one or two nominated books from the published list, so that my kiddos have more of chance of having read (or had read to them) the minimum of 4 that they need in order to vote.  This one was a little more intense than the first one, and is a story of a 5th grade class and their fabulous teacher.  Because of some decisions along the way (which many deem as bad ones), an accident occurs and they are without their beloved teacher for most of the year.  I’m happy to say that the ending is a happy one, but it’s not easy going along the way.  The topics in this story allow my students to continue to connect and relate, but also helps them to reach outside themselves and think about what they’d do in difficult situations; these decisions can be made, however, within the safety of a good story.  During this second book, I add to their RA toolbox, and turn “say something” into “write something.”  Again, it’s just like it sounds–at certain times we stop and write something about the story.  This also allows me to introduce the place where they will collect this thinking.  Everyone is given a Read Aloud Journal:

What?  It looks like our cubs?  You betcha!  Those half-sized notebooks get a work out in our class.  I don’t remember who first gave me the idea of hacking a spiral notebook in half, but I love them!  You should try it!

The image for BOMT on our wall was drawn by Owen.  It looks like this:

Sorry–I have a curse of blurry pictures I think–but hopefully you can see that it’s a picture of the hospital room where Mr. Terupt spends much of the story and plays a big role in the book.

In our RA Journals, we’ll collect our thoughts about books we share together this year.  Some of it they share with others in our class, and some entries I use for assessment, as well.  See? More bang for our learning buck. 🙂

Right now we’re in the middle of another FABULOUS book called Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  I found it this summer and was beyond amazed at how great it was.  A whole movement has been started around this story to help children learn to “choose kind” rather than bully or mistreat others.  This one has the same setting (5th grade in a school), the same structure as the other two (chapters and sections that alternate between different characters to show varying points-of-view) as well as themes of respect and valuing people for who they are rather than what they look like.    During this book we started another strategy for showing our thinking: a behavior-over-time graph.  With this organizer, students can show what they’ve discovered about how the characters are feeling throughout the story, using evidence from the text to support their thinking.  It’s a Systems Thinking strategy that you can learn more about here.   As with the other strategies we use in RA, this is one I hope students add to the independent reading arsenal, as well.

So, as you can see, Read Aloud is work time in our room.  It’s no rest-and-quiet-down-after-recess-time in Room 202.  Read aloud = another learning time in our world.  And we learn alot here!

What suggestions do you have for read alouds?  Have you read any of the books we’ve shared so far this year?  Leave us a comment and tell us what you’re thinking. 🙂