Do you use file folders for organizing student data?
I feel like I've tried every data collection organizational system there is – sometimes twice – and there's always pros and cons to each.
Here's what I was looking for:
Organized by student – this may seem obvious, but I did once try to organize my classroom data collection by content subject (i.e.: all running records in one place) and chronologically (Quarter 1, 2…). By far, the best system that worked for getting – and staying – organized was for each student to have their own file folder.
Flexible – this is EVERYTHING! If you're a special educator reading this, I'm sure you already know that every student is unique and the data collection we are taking also varies from student to student.
Sustainable – even if you have the BEST data organization system, it won't be helpful if it's not easy to sustain. This means papers can easily be added and then found again when you need to reference them. This also means that you can get a quick overview summary “at a glance.”
What system meets all the criteria?
Student file folders are the BEST system for keeping all data records together – before, during, and after data collection
BEFORE Data Collection
Prepare student folders as much as possible before collecting data. I like to fill the folders with any assessments I already know I will need. For example, if I know I'll be conducting performance assessments on letter or number ID, I'll be sure to print and copy data collection pages and place them inside the folder.
Reading comprehension goals? Print out one-page passages and tuck them into the file folder so they are ready to go when you need them.
DURING Data Collection
This is the toughest part! Collecting data isn't usually difficult, but keeping it organized so it's usable can be where our systems break down. One thing that I found super useful is keeping notes in an easy-to-find area. This often meant sticky notes attached to the inside AND outside of students' folders.
Now I don't know about you, but there are times I've returned to my sticky notes and scratched my head wondering what exactly I was thinking about when I wrote the note.
If that's ever happened to you, here's a solution:
“Pre-populate” your data collection and get ahead of the game!
This is a set of printable pages that help organize your data collection systems both INSIDE and OUTSIDE student files:
Here's a detailed list of the different types of tools included:
And a closer look at the mix and match mini-tools:
AFTER Data Collection
This is probably the most exciting thing I discovered and something I hadn't experienced before:
Imagine grabbing one of these newly organized data folders and heading into your next I.E.P. meeting. How amazing would it feel to have data collection summarized right in front of you, plus a checklist of important details?
Say goodbye to an one-size-fits-all data system and say “so long” to all those sticky notes!
Just kidding – sticky notes are the best!
I hope you love these tools as much as I do!
Snap a photo of your new and improved file folders!