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!

Tightening Up

I CANNOT believe that we are already in the 4th quarter of the year.  Well, really I guess it’s the 8th quarter for some of us, since it’s our second year together! LOL  This time of year brings with it warmer weather (followed by colder weather, then warmer, then maybe some snow or ice, then finally Spring for real!), excitement about being outside more, comfort and ease the comes with having a well established community, and sometimes it brings kiddos who are SO comfortable and at ease with things that they forget the rules and start to act like crazy people.  Ok, not really, but everyone teachers can sometimes get lax and kids quickly take advantage of that.  And so this time of year often also brings with it a tightening up of the procedures and routines, reminders of the rules and lots of reteaching and practicing to help ensure we end the year in the best way we can!

“Tightening up” in Rm. 202 looks a little different than it probably does in some other places, mainly because the structure in my classroom looks different from many others to begin with.  I guess what I mean is that there are a few things that I find it necessary to be totally in charge of, and there are many more others that I leave my kids to decide upon or choose for themselves.  In general, students in my room choose their table seats (they are not assigned and are usually very fluid even throughout a school day); choose their carpet spots and  learning partners (unless I deem it necessary for specific learning goals to assign them); make decisions both about how they learn and show their learning; and they are in charge of much of how our classroom runs on a given day (like lunch count, attendance, cleaning, making announcements, using each other as resources for info and answers, etc.).  Most of the time, this works seamlessly, and we all spend our day happily working and learning together, supporting our friends, challenging each other, offering kind words of encouragement and taking care of each others’ needs.  It ‘s a beautiful thing.

And then days like yesterday happen.  While I know that no kid is perfect, and that everyone has their moments and makes mistakes, our Wednesday was a kind of day which I have not seem in a very long time.  Perhaps never with this class even.  Their behavior was screaming out to me that what we are doing in our room right now is not working.  We were loud, unfriendly, unproductive, messy, disruptive, disrespectful, slow…all words that do not describe a healthy, happy learning environment.

So what was I to do?  I certainly could have gotten really annoyed, mad, frustrated, had hurt feelings, yelled, etc., but obviously none of those options made sense.  They wouldn’t have been good for me or for my friends, and they wouldn’t have solved our problems that had happened during the day.  So instead, I decided to tighten up the reins a little bit.  Since they were showing me that right now they couldn’t handle choice and freedom, I’d give them less until they could prove again that they could.  Makes sense, right?

This meant a couple of new things, then, happened on Thursday.  First of all, kiddos had new table spots (ok, when they had assigned table spots to begin with–which was new) that were chosen by me.  They also had assigned carpet spots–again chosen by me–based on who they could best work with and be quiet and respectful next to.  As we started our day together, Evan made another suggestion that would end up being very helpful to us.  Let me back up for a second–at the end of Wednesday, I drew a graph of what our behavior looked like over the course of the day.  It looked like this:

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Evan’s idea was that we draw a behavior-over-time graph like that at the end of every day so that we could see how we were doing.  Even better than that, Emily suggested that instead we should keep track of our day DURING the day.  Otherwise we would have a hard time changing the way our graph looked; knowing in the moment that we were off track would allow us to fix things.  SUPER IDEAS friends!

One more thing that was a part of our tightening up plan was a little bit of a whole-class  behavior chart system with Xs for misbehavior (based on expectations we already have in place in our classroom) and a reward for friends that fit a certain criteria.  Basically everyone starts with the reward, and it’s up to you to make sure you don’t lose it.  We put together a chart where everyone has a label, and you get an “X” for choices that do not line up with our classroom expectations and Road Rules.  IF you have a certain number (or less) by the end of the time period (which will change as we go along), you can participate in our reward (this will also change with every period).  This first go-round, the Xs is 3 and the time frame was from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon (2 days).  The next chunk starts over on Monday and will go for more days or have less Xs (haven’t decided yet).

So…we put our new things in place and went through our days Thursday and Friday and kept track of our behavior over time.  Here’s what our charts looked like:

AMAZING, right?  One thing I love about Behavior-Over-Time graphs is that you have to justify why you’re putting each dot where it is.  Kids had to really reflect on our choices and evaluate whether our behavior counted as + or -.

At the end of the day on Friday we talked about why we thought that our last two days had been so much improved over what had happened earlier in the week.  Some friends of course pointed out our new reward system, some said it was our spots, but Sara mentioned that she thought it was our system AND our BOT graphs; being able to SEE how we were doing was super helpful in keeping those choices positive.  I agree, friend. 🙂

What stories can you tell about “tightening up?”  Does 4th quarter bring new procedures and routines for you and your kiddos?  How does the end of the year look different than the beginning?  Please comment and let us know!  Here’s to another great week starting tomorrow!