3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Child’s Data

Data can be a scary word for people who aren’t used to it. But in a sense, data is really just information. Your child will have data/information attached to him all through school. It comes in the form of report cards, test scores, benchmark results, progress reports, and parent teacher conferences.

It can be important for your child’s future that you take this data and use it to inform your decisions.

How does this work? Great question! Here are some examples:

  • You notice your first grader’s test and quiz scores are slipping. So, you check in with him and find out he’s showing some warning signs of stress that you need to address.
  • You get a letter from your child’s teacher saying that he’s doing great on tests and quizzes but isn’t turning in homework. And his grades are suffering. This prompts you to check in with him and you find out that he’s losing his homework on the way to school.
  • Your child consistently underperforms on oral reports, and you know this because you keep track of these things. For the next oral report, you spend extra time practicing with your child so that he gets used to speaking in front of a group.
  • You and your child are keeping track of his high school courses and you notice in the beginning of junior year that he is not on track to graduate. You’re able to work with the school counselor to figure out what he needs to do to graduate on time.

If you’re a numbers person, you can really dive deep into your child’s data and use Excel documents or other software programs to keep track of test scores, homework, attendance and more. Even if numbers make you a little nauseous (*raises hand* …that’s me!), you can still create your own simplified system that will help you use the data to your child’s advantage.

Schools across the country are becoming more and more aware of how important it is for students and parents to have access to their data. A few years ago, the School District of Philadelphia created a program called StudentNet, which is an online portal that shows students their grades, benchmark scores, attendance record, and much more. Lots of private schools now use programs like Edline where students can view their grades and homework assignments.

You probably know why grades are important. Attendance might be less obvious. Attendance Works created the following info graphic to show how important it is that kids attend school regularly in the early years.

attendance infographie
Attendance Works’ Inforgraphic on why attendance is so important

What should you do?

Here are some things you can do to get a handle on your child’s data.

1. Check to see if your school has a software program. Ask your child’s teacher or a school administrator if there’s a way you can see homework assignments, grades, etc online.

2. Create a system of keeping track of your child’s data. You can create a simple chart on pen and paper. If you know how to work Excel, you can create a workbook. Microsoft has many different templates in Excel and Word that can make tracking grades easy.

3. Connect with your teacher. There are certain things you can do to build a great parent-teacher relationship. When it comes to making sure your child is on track, the teacher will be your greatest ally.

This doesn’t have to be hard. You’ll want to work with your child as well and get them to understand why keeping an eye on grades is important. As they get older, you’ll want them to take over the tracking system and shoulder that responsibility.


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How to Incorporate Writing into Math and Science Classrooms

writing with pen and paperAs a writer, I may be a bit biased when I say that writing is important. (Just a little biased! ) But regardless of how biased I may be, the fact of the matter is writing is everywhere. We’re constantly being inundated with written messages. From billboards to ads on Facebook, from newspapers to blogs, the written word is everywhere. We can’t afford to let the upcoming generation’s writing skills fall by the wayside. Writing allows us to express ourselves in almost unlimited ways. It’s an essential job skill now. Heck, even putting together a resume and cover letter requires writing skills!
One of the ways we can make sure our youth have strong writing skills is to incorporate writing into math and science classrooms. Writing in English? Of course! History? No duh. But math and science? It’s kind of counterintuitive, especially at the K-12 level, but here are 4 simple ways to do it.

  • Stories. Have students write science fiction stories that relate to whatever kind of science unit you are working on. Students can write stories about the solar system, Newton’s laws of physics, chemical reactions, anatomy, and more. Let their minds get creative (within the confines of a few guidelines) and they may come up with some surprising things. Plus, I still remember stories I wrote in the 8th grade. I might be a bit weird, but I’m willing to bet that students will remember their story about Newton’s laws for years to come if they put the effort into it.
  • Journals! I’m a big fan of journals for any subject. A popular teaching technique now is to start class with a “Do Now.” It’s a 5-10 minute assignment students do to get their minds ready to focus on Math or Science or whatever class they are in. Students could use their journals to answer writing prompts during the first 5-10 minutes of class. It doesn’t need to be long, complicated, or daily. Something as simple as “Write everything you know about probability” can inform the teacher and give students some writing practice.
  • Poetry. Poetry is one great, non-traditional way for students to express themselves. One fun assignment could be a haiku on the Pythagorean theorem (or whatever math principle floats your boat). Poems can also easily turn into raps, which can be a fun way for students to share their work with each other.
  • Advice Columns. Students can pretend to be their own advice column specialist. “Dear Dr. Pi” kind of thing. This could be great for studying for tests because students will ask questions they have about the lesson and then try to answer those questions in their own words. Or students could work in pairs and ask each other questions in order to build collaboration.

There are tons more ways to incorporate writing into math and science classrooms. The four listed here are just a start. Teachers get creative. Parents encourage your children to keep a journal or have an advice column. We can all participate in this and improve education for all our children.

Photo Credit: mrsdkrebs on Flickr Commons