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!

Teachable Moments

We had one of “those” moments recently.  One of those moments when we had to stop and deviate a little bit and take a different path.  It was one of those moments when I knew that the lesson I was supposed to teach was bigger than the writing lesson I had planned for the morning.

Let me tell a little bit of a back story.  We had just finished Readers’ Workshop, and were heading towards the rainbow rug to start our Writers’ Workshop mini-lesson.  I had met with three groups, done at least 4 individual conferences and assessments, and the room had been quiet and productive.  At least it looked and sounded productive.

And then it all kind of went downhill.  Evidently, there was a group of kiddos who were not, in fact, making an acceptable reading or writing choice during our work time.  They were playing a game.  Oh, and a game that was not appropriate for school, for that matter. 😦

We stopped what we were doing right then and there and talked through all the many layers of what was going on.  First of all, the group of kiddos who had been playing were do so in such a way that NO ONE was the wiser that it wasn’t what they were actually supposed to be doing.  Many kiddos in the room were baffled (ok, as was I!) how that was possible.  Many said they had been sitting right there and didn’t even know.  That’s just it–they were quiet, they were busy and they seemed like they were doing the right thing.  We talked about how and why that could have happened and what we could all do to help ensure that every learner in our room was using their work time in the most useful way at all times.  We agreed that this had been a bad call and everyone should do better to do the right thing next time.

Secondly, there was a layer of “I-saw-it-and-didn’t-join-in-but-also-didn’t-stop-it.”  We had a really heartfelt conversation about why it was important NOT just to NOT join in, but also to be strong enough to say something when they see someone doing something they know isn’t ok.  While I know they don’t truly understand the gravity of this, I have to begin to teach them this skill now, because they will need it for much bigger decisions in their future.  Imagine what middle school would look like for them without being confident enough to stand up for what’s right.  Or high school. Or LIFE for that matter.  Yep, it begins now with these small lessons when they’re 7- and 8-years-old.

Then, there were a couple of friends who actually did wander over and join the fun because it looked really interesting.  They took the “it’s-not-my-fault-because-it-was-my-idea” stance.  Again, we had a great conversation about how this explanation doesn’t make sense because they actually participated in what was going on.  Yeah, I know as adults this is clear, but for these 2nd grade friends, it was really hard for them to understand (or at least accept) that not being the originator of the idea doesn’t make them exempt from the consequence or responsibility.  It wasn’t their idea to start it, but it was their idea and their choice to continue it and join in.

While this was obviously not one of our proudest moments as a group of learners (as far as choices and wise time usage goes), we definitely used the moment to our advantage and had some really important conversations.  I am sure that by the end of the class meeting, everyone walked away learning something, ready to make a different decision next time–even the ones who didn’t really have any part in the trouble of the morning.  Some will be stronger and stand up when they see something go awry, some will be wiser and use their time in a more appropriate way, some will choose to not go along with the crowd, and some will continue to do the right thing as an example to the rest of us.  The best part is that everyone has the choice to do each of those things in whatever situation they find themselves in.  And the even better part is that because of the community of friends and learners we have, we will do well to encourage each other to make the right choice as we go forward.  What better lesson could we have had that day?  Sometimes the best lessons are not the ones you plan for but the ones that just happen instead. 🙂

 

Weak side/Strong side

Much of the first days of school is spent learning routines and procedures for how to make the classroom run smoothly, and learning how to be a good learner is part of that.  In second grade, we use the idea of weak side/strong side to illustrate how kids can (and should) make good choices that benefit both themselves and their classmates.

As with many lessons, we began with a book.  We read Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon.

IMG_5074I explained the idea of weak side/strong side by talking about how everyone has two voices in their head.  You know, that one that encourages you to do your best, think happy thoughts, follow the rules–the shoulder angel.  There’s also that other one that whispers and tells you how great of an idea it is to pinch your sister or blow bubbles in your milk or slide down the banister on the stairs–the shoulder devil.

In order to make the concept a little more concrete, and move visual, we created a class chart (which I will later make a little neater and hang on our anchor chart wall) with our ideas of things we could do or say that would fit under each side.  Students started with partner thinking–where many of them recorded thoughts using a t-chart–then we put our ideas together.  As of today, our chart looks like this (but it is ever-changing–I think we’ve added to it every day!):

IMG_5057It’s definitely sinking in, too, because I am hearing kids use the language of their chart when they speak to each other.  🙂  We’re by no means working perfectly all the time, but we’re on our way!