Odds are, no matter what topic you’re discussing or what content you teach, you will not have 100% of your students master the skill the first time you teach it. This isn’t because we’re all terrible teachers; it’s because students learn in different ways and at different paces. This means that you will always have to schedule the time to reteach. In order to determine what you need to reteach, you’ve probably collected a lot of data: assessment scores, exit tickets, universal screeners, benchmark scores, etc. Looking at all of this data can be suuuuper overwhelming. How do you know what “level” a student is on, anyway? If you’re like me, you probably started grouping kids by high, medium, and low using rather arbitrary rules like “they scored below 50% on the unit test,” or “they’re just low on every topic.” Here’s a new strategy you can use to organize your data for reteaching and take your reteach groups to the next level.
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THE OLD STRATEGY
I’ve been using the guided math model of instruction in my classroom for years. I teach 4 small groups every day: 3 regular groups and 1 reteach group. I used to create my reteach groups after we took the unit test. I would look at the scores on the test and divide my students into four groups like this:
– 0-49% on the test (Below Level)
– 50-74% on the test (Approaching Level)
– 75-84% on the test (On Level)
– 85-100% on the test (Above Level)
Then I would start the new unit, and I would pull the students who were below level during my reteach time to reteach the content from the previous unit. As they started to understand the concept, I would stop pulling them.
Here’s the problem with this method: I could have created those groups long before we took the test. I knew which students didn’t get it. But I didn’t have time to reteach because I was using my reteach time to teach content from the previous test. It was like this never-ending cycle where I tried really hard to help students catch up, but they never did. This is not using true data for reteaching.
A BETTER WAY BY USING REAL DATA FOR RETEACHING
I knew I needed to do something different, so I studied all the information I could find on intervention and reteaching and I came up with a much better system using very specific data for reteaching. As soon as I stopped waiting for the test to start reteaching, I noticed huge gains in my students’ understanding of new content. Here’s how this process works in my classroom:
1. I give an exit ticket at the end of EVERY small group lesson. I watch the students as they work and give immediate feedback. I reteach content as needed right then while they are still at my table.
2. I use these data tracking guides to keep track of each student’s exit ticket work. I take notes about WHY they need to be retaught. (Example: My lesson was about representing multiplication by making groups and by drawing an array and the exit ticket gave the students a problem and asked them to solve with both groups and an array. The student uses the array correctly but makes groups incorrectly. In the notes section, I would write the student’s name and that they needed reteach with groups.)
3. When I’ve finished teaching my three regular groups, I quickly go through the data on my tracking guide and divide the students into groups based on their misconceptions and errors. (Example: Using the same lesson from before, let’s say I had three students who needed reteach with groups, four who needed reteach with arrays, and two who needed reteach with both strategies. I would highlight or otherwise mark those three groups on the guide.)
4. I call the students for reteach on the same day. Depending on how many reteach groups I’ve made, I call the students different ways. (Example: Using the same lesson from before, I would call the 2 who needed both strategies and the 4 who needed reteach with arrays at the same time. I would reteach arrays. As the 4 started to understand, I would give them the exit ticket to try again and record the data on my tracking guide, then send them back to their stations. I would keep the 2 who needed both strategies at my table and call the other 3 who needed reteach with groups. I would repeat the same process: teach, exit ticket, record, return).
This strategy is based on research on assessment design conducted by Nicole Vagle.
Of course, I still have students who don’t get it after the test, but that number is much smaller than it used to be. I am now able to focus on reteaching past content during our schoolwide intervention time. I use a similar process to sort students into groups after the test. As I grade the test, I identify the general errors or misconceptions struggling students are making and sort the students into groups based on specific concepts they need to be taught, not based on the score they made on the test.
This strategy transformed my classroom. I was no longer waiting for my students to fail before I helped them – I was making space to correct their errors as I saw them. Austin Buffum said, “A good conductor won’t wait for the concert to see if their musicians can perform. Likewise, a good educator shouldn’t wait for the test to see if their students know the content.” Using the tracking guides to organize my data and direct my analysis of the data enables me to target my instruction to exactly what my students needed.
Unorganized data is essentially just strings of numbers. This system allows me to get to the root of WHY students need help. Instead of just treating the symptom of the problem or the test score, I’m able to fix the cause of the problem.
This is a guest blog post written by Jamie Jasperson, founder of Basic Girl Teaches. She teaches 4th Grade Math and Science in Texas and is known for her easy-to-use, no fluff resources. She is the founder of The Teacher Instagram Club, a free community to help teacherprenuers use Instagram to grow their business or brand. You can connect with Jamie on Instagram @basicgirlteaches or email her at email@example.com