Thing #18 – Dig the Data

Spreadsheets and Charts from School Data!

Using Google Sheets, I was able to take a closer look at my district’s data for the 7th Grade MEAP testing in math.  I looked over a 5 year time-frame, and I was able to investigate how the economically disadvantaged students compared to those without an economic disadvantage.  I sorted the Sheet in the year column, only because it made the most sense.  You can find the Sheet as well as a bar chart by following the link.


Perception and Process Data!

I had to change the questions a bit in my Perceptions and Process data from Thing #17 in order to get some data that I could actually analyze.  I ended up re-asking teachers how many hours they spent outside of the regular class time with students per week, on average, and then what they actually did with students.  From there, I asked teachers if they felt the school was safe and how many referral forms they handed out to students, on average, per week.  The results were quite interesting.  It looks like the more teachers were involved and willing to be advisors, coaches, and tutors outside of the regular class time, the more likely they were to view the school as safe and to give out less referral forms.  I was able to sort the data by first names only, which are fictitious to protect those that were willing to help me out again, and I calculated both sums and averages of the numeric columns.  The chart gives a clear picture of the information.  You can see that they higher the time spent with students, the lower the referrals.  Also, the less time spent with students, overall, the more referrals.  You can find this information in Google Sheets.

In the Classroom!

Online polling could be used in the classroom at the end of a unit exam or test.  I could quickly ask students how much time they spent studying for the assessment, total.  I could then ask them to reveal their letter grade.  I could take those two pieces of information and quickly create a quick and easy spreadsheet and chart that would allow students to see (hopefully) that they more time spent studying does pay off in the end.  This would be done anonymously, of course, to protect student grades.  We could also collect data about how much time students spend watching tv or browsing the internet and compare that to the current grade in the classroom.  I am pretty sure the results would not be surprising to educators or parents.

ISTE Standards

1a Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness – Collecting data and analyzing into some form of useful information certainly models that creative and innovative thinking.

2d Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching – Taking the information from a recent test or even an informal exit slip will give the instructor enough information to inform the direction of the curriculum.

3b Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation – The data that is collected and analyzed could be shared with students, parents, and even members of the community so show progress.  It’s difficult to just say the students are performing better in math, but when you can show them a tangible piece of evidence that supports that claim, the results are difficult to argue.

CITW – Best Practice

Setting objectives and providing feedback – With spreadsheets, it is easy to set a specific objective and track the results.  Perhaps an instructor collects data, ensuring that all students will perform at grade level by the end of the school year.  Through frequent assessments an analysis of data, an instructor can adjust the instruction methods to make every student successful.

Reinforcing effort and providing recognition – That same spreadsheet could be used to determine which students are still struggling and need some extra help.

Cues, questions, and advanced organizers – The very format of a spreadsheet and the chart itself lend themselves to belong in the advanced organizer category.  Encouraging students to look for and understand what the spreadsheet means can allow them to begin to clarify the information.

Non-linguistic representation – The quick and easy charts that can be created with the information provided in the spreadsheet can simply tell the story of the data.

Assigning homework and practice – Students could be assigned the task of creating a spreadsheet and chart, and then analyzing the information.

Identifying similarities and differences – Through some quick analysis of the information collected in the spreadsheet and the chart, the user will easily be able to find some comparisons.  For example, in the chart provided above in part 1, a pattern quickly develops, showing that the economically disadvantaged students are doing poorly both in our district and across the state.  Gaps in the data can be found.

Generating and testing hypothesis – The analysis of this data will allow students both to make a prediction of what the data will show, and to test that prediction.  Students can predict what will happen if they study more, and when the spreadsheet and chart are created, chances are that they will see that the more you study, the better your grade on the test.


Thing #8 – Digital Citizenship

My Digital Citizenship Weakness – Lesson Learned!

As I reviewed the nine themes of digital citizenship, I found that my weakest point was Protect… that goes for rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and digital security.  The problem being, I am consistently the one in the crowd with rose-colored glasses, despite the 43 years of “life” I have experienced.  One would think I would learn something and begin to protect myself or at least be a bit more wary and conscious of what could go wrong.  Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that the three areas under the “Protect” category were my weakest spots.  The rights and responsibilities of the digital world have never really occurred to me, and I was equally ignorant when it came to physical and psychological issues that pertained to technology and Internet usage.  I think the most eye-opening aspect was the security issue.  This is really an area that I needed to research because if I don’t protect myself and my identity, there is the potential for days/weeks/months/years of hassle and headache that can be easily prevented with just a few precautions.

The first step in building on a weakness is recognizing that there is a weakness.  A quick reading of the “Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship” took care of that.  I also reviewed the resources provided in the area of digital security on the Common Sense Media site and 21 Things for Students.  I took a couple of the quizzes, read through the lesson plans, and found that I am WAY too trusting of everything!  It was time to take some action!  The first thing I did was to Google myself, seeing what was out there that was all about me.  I was surprised to find that there wasn’t very much on me aside from a couple of pictures, but it was a little unnerving to see that my boys (ages 21 and 19) were on there a bit more.  Being actively involved in sports and extracurricular activities in high school, I guess it was to be expected, but to see that anyone could look them up, find their home address and phone number – it doesn’t set too well with me.  The worst thing EVER was the White Pages experience.  Not only did it pull each member of my family up, showing that there was a connection to all of us and our ages, but with the click of a button, you can see a Google Satellite Map of my house as well as the names, addresses and phone numbers of my 20 closest neighbors…and we live out in the middle of nowhere!!

What I have learned in the area of Digital Security may seem like a small step to some, but for me, it’s HUGE!  I now realize how easy it is to find information about me and my family.  If it’s that easy to find us, how hard is it really to discover social security numbers, passwords, banking information, etc.  Being aware will certainly lead me to take more precautions, and I am grateful for this “thing”.

Adding Digital Citizenship Resources to the Weebly Page

The community where I teach could certainly benefit from the Educate area.  I teach in a small rural community that is centered around a state highway that directly connects two major cities, leading to an extremely high transient population filled with families that are “between” jobs and permanent homes.  Digital awareness is an area that can easily be overlooked, but through my Weebly page, parents have easy access to a number of excellent resources.  I just added a “Parent Support” page under my “Home” tab for parents and guardians that include videos and fact sheets from the Common Sense Media page.  My plan is to add to the list weekly because putting everything there all at once may overwhelm and scare parents away.  The information will directly tie into the topics discussed with students in class, giving a discussion point at home for parents and their children.  Don’t be afraid to check it out ~

Classroom Activity

The Common Sense Media site is FANTASTIC!!  Our media specialist makes sure students know how to use word processing software, data base software, presentation devices, etc., but there is very little presented in digital citizenship.  Therefore, like parents, I want to focus on the Educate area for my students in brief lessons this year, especially as I will be requiring them to me more “digital” than ANY other content classroom in the district.  I want to start with the basics, and Common Sense Media has a lesson entitled Digital Life 101 that will get students started on being aware of how vulnerable they are and how permanent everything can be when it comes to digital communication.  I expect students to be eager to learn about everything that is digital as this is the world they live in – and it is totally digitized.  I also suspect students will be humbled, as I was, by how much they don’t know and are not aware.  I look forward to sharing this information with my students.

ISTE Standards

1b Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources – Using resources such as Common Sense Media, students will begin to see the true nature of what digital citizenship means.

3a Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technology and situations – Quick weekly lessons in digital citizenship, such as the proper and safe way to create an online identity, will keep the education updated and current.

Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Through lessons such as those provided by Common Sense Media, the teacher will be able to directly address the responsibility and importance of security in the digital age.


1 – Setting objectives/providing feedback – Through a lesson on cyber-bullying, students can easily be informed of the cyber-bullying issue and how to prevent it.  With a quick chat on Chatzy that surrounds the classroom activity, the teacher can provide feedback to student comments and questions.

Reinforcing effort/providing recognition – As mentioned above, a Chatzy session would allow students to participate that normally wouldn’t, and the teacher will be able to encourage students and communicate the numerous thoughts and conversations that would surround a topic like cyber-bullying.

Cooperative learning – Digital citizenship is an area that will be a high interest topic for students, simply because this is an area that they are very comfortable.  The teacher could certainly put students into a cooperative learning group and ask them to put together a presentation that would include videos and screen shots of social media conversations, demonstrating examples of cyber bullying and what the students could do to prevent it.

Thing #6 – Communication


I simply LOVE this tool, and I have been using it for quite awhile now.  The recent updates have made this tool even easier to use.  My best friend from high school (aside from my husband of course) has four children…that go to school…..that frequently need math help…  Aunt Bev meets with them regularly during the school year to go over any homework problems they may have.  The two hours it takes to drive to their house is just a nuisance when it comes to tutoring, so we decided to do it with Skype.  🙂

The oldest boy is going into the 8th grade this year…. I just happen to teach 7th and 8th grade math.  His school coincidentally is using the same Connected Math series that I use.  When he gets stuck, he’ll often take a picture of the assignment and send it to my iPad.  I’ll take a quick look at it, and then I’ll meet with him to see what questions he has.  I can write on my own paper, and then hold it up for him to see.  He’ll move the iPad over his work so I can see what he is doing.  It’s perfect!!  This boy has gained so much confidence in math over the last couple of years, just because of the “communication” component provided by Skype.  Last Christmas, he received an iPad, and we use a lot of FaceTime as well now, but Skype is where it all started.

The screenshot is of my friend from high school.  All of the kids were outside playing when I called tonight, so he was stuck talking to me!  Just so you know, an hour passes VERY quickly when talking with good friends!



ISTE Standards

Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – The possibilities are limitless when you throw in tools that allow students to see and hear each other in “real time” and can communicate synchronously.

Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments – Anyone that taught 10 years ago never would have imagined technology reaching this level.  With Skype and backchats, the teacher can assess without being in the same room, or even the same state, as the student.

Model digital age work and learning – If I can communicate with students via web conferencing or backchats, students will see a clear model of technology used to learn.

Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Through backchats, the teacher can both encourage and model appropriate online behavior.  With such social networks as Facebook and Twitter where students say whatever they want about whomever they choose, communication tools such as Skype and backchats and web conferencing will show students more positive uses of technology tools.

Engage in professional growth and leadership – The web conferencing in Adobe Connect that is held for this course is a prime example of how communication can lead to professional growth and leadership.


Reinforcing effort/providing recognition – With the communication tools addressed in this “thing”, EVERY student will have the capability of being recognized.  The quieter students will be able to type in their ideas through a backchat or even in the chatbox during a web conference.

Cooperative learning – Students can use Google Hangouts to meet about a specific classroom project, outside of the classroom.

Assigning homework and practice – After assigning a homework assignment, any of these communication tools could be used if students have questions or ideas about their assignment.




Thing #4 – Cloud Initiation


Wow!  This is something that I have struggled with for AGES, and I cannot believe it has been this simple all along!  Between a school computer, a home computer, a laptop and an iPad, I save great things that I encounter, but I never know WHICH device I have saved them to if I need them again.  I chose to use Symbaloo, mostly because I am such a dependent visual learner.  There are just a handful of sites there, but it is enough to get me started!

You can view my Symbaloo page at


Yet another tool that will make my life so much easier!  I had to use Dropbox as part of the research study that my classroom participated in, but I was always so busy with figuring out the specifics of the research project that I was never able to fully understand the features of Dropbox.  This “thing” really cleared things up for me!  I was able to create folders for my 7th grade class, my 8th grade class, and my Student Council responsibilities.  I have included links to each of them so you can take a quick look at what I’m working on.  As always, please understand that this is a work in progress.  I am FAR from finished! for the 8th Grade Algebra folder. for the 7th Grade folder. for the Student Council folder.

I have even downloaded this app to my iPad to make my life even MORE wonderful!  I can use my iPad along with my interactive whiteboard to project these documents on the board for students as we discuss them in class.


Opening the doors to this “cloud” mystery has certainly revealed an infinite number of possibilities in my classroom.  Not only will students be able to access videos and documents for the classroom through my Weebly site, they will also be able to research and access helpful websites through my Symbaloo account.  The Dropbox idea will provide a chance for students to collaborate, teaching them skills that they will need in the real world AND the math content in the classroom.  My students work in cooperative learning groups of 4-5 students, and I can envision a weekly reflection piece from each group.  Students can include details of discussions held throughout the week (good or bad), about particular math problems and solutions.  The use of these cloud tools will certainly open up some of the barriers I have experienced in teaching in years past.

ISTE Standards

Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – With the easy access to bookmarks in the case of Symbaloo and the collaborative characteristics of Dropbox, students will be encouraged to take control of their own education and creatively produce evidence of their understanding.

Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments – If students do something as simple as work on a Dropbox document together in the form of a reflection, the instructor will have the opportunity to assess each student’s understanding of the material.

Model digital age work and learning – Creating and regularly updating the Symbaloo site, providing feedback on collaborative Dropbox documents, students will see an example of their teacher consistently modeling these digital age tools.

CITW Standards

Setting objectives /providing feedback – The Dropbox feature will provide yet another avenue for the teacher to clarify a lesson/unit objective and provide feedback on student work.

Reinforcing effort/providing recognition – As students work on assignments collaboratively through Dropbox, their work will have value.  There is the potential for others to see the work aside from the classroom instructor.

Cooperative learning – Clearly, with the Symbaloo and Dropbox features, students will have resources to research and a medium to present the final product in a cooperative learning assignment.   All of the tools will be available to each student.

Cues/questions/advance organizers – Not only will Dropbox provide a collaborative document opportunity, there is also the chance to ask questions and collaborate on organizers.

Thing #3 – Visual Learning


Word Clouds

With just a simple paragraph about how students should be learning math from the Connected Math Program website, a visual learning word cloud tool has transformed this important paragraph into something that is truly meaningful and a gorgeous work of art.  Through the use of Tagxedo at, the eye is drawn to the essential components of learning mathematics.  I love idea presented in “108 Ways to Use a Word Cloud” which suggests taking my lesson plans, or even the course objectives, and using Tagxedo to share with students at the beginning of the year, or even at the start of a unit.  The words used most often appear larger, drawing attention to what types of words the students will encounter the most frequently.  If something like this was required to be in my students’ math binders, maybe even attached to activity handouts and assessments, almost like a unit icon, it would be a quick, but efficient reminder of what students are expected to know.

Mind Map Order of Operations

Mind Mapping

Through a simple mind map, students will be able have yet another example of a visual learning tool that will help them see what will be expected of them in the lesson.  In this case, during the first week of school, I expect my Algebra I students will need to be review the Order of Operations.  After viewing and discussing a quick power point (the top level of the mind map), students will partner up and play a quick game together (the second level of the mind map).  This will be guided practice as they will have classmates and a teacher to help with any questions.  Finally, the lowest level of the mind map shows what will be expected along the lines of independent practice.  I used for this mind map, and you can find this order of operations mind map at

QR Code for Marlette Schools

QR Codes

WOW!  I never really understood what these things were!  I mean… I’ve seen them around of course, but it was always a great mystery to me.  The code above should take the user directly to my school’s website which is located at



This is just a simple way to get information out to students and parents that is user-friendly.  A ton of complicated information can be put into a format that just makes things a little easier for everyone.  The screenshot above could be used during the first week of classes as I am trying to direct students and parents to my classroom “face”, directing them to what can be found on my site and where.

Face of the Classroom Connection

I chose to include the word cloud on my Weebly site, just because it such a powerful image for students and parents to see right away.  You can view the word cloud at, and I continue to think that using a word cloud such as this with the unit objectives would be a fantastic way to get students thinking about what they are supposed to be learning!

ISTE Standards

1) Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.  There are so many opportunities through the mind maps and word clouds to encourage students to think of math in a whole new way.

2) Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.  Every one of these visual learning tools gives a digital connection to the math content.

3)  Model digital age work and learning.  As I use the mind maps, word clouds, QR codes, and infographics on my Weebly site, students are seeing an appropriate model of how to use these tools.

4)  Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.  Again, as I use the various visual learning tools, students are able to see clear examples of how to use the digital tools responsibly.

5)  Engage in professional growth and leadership.  As an instructor, using these visual learning tools makes me stand out as a leader through the use of creative applications used for student growth.

CITW Tools

1) Setting objectives/providing feedback – This could easily be demonstrated through the world cloud tool.

2) Reinforcing effort/providing recognition – As students are asked to create their own visual learning tools, this will allow their work to be recognized.

3) Cooperative learning – Students could easily work together to create a viable visual learning tool to share with classmates.

4) Cues/questions/advance organizers – The mind maps are excellent examples of organizers that will help students to organize their ideas.