The Delight in Data


“Data will talk to you if you’re willing to listen to it.”  — Jim Bergeson

As I embark upon the halfway point in course three, week three, of my COETAIL journey, this week was all about data storytelling.

In other words, making sense of it all, making it visual, then telling a story with it.

As an educator, this is quite an important skill to develop.

We’re always collecting data (or at least I am). The ability to make connections and illuminate the facts both visually and creatively is something I tend to geek out on.

Personal Strategy One – Tracking feedback loops and submissions

One strategy I use often is a colour coding system.

In this example, I track assignment submission and feedback in Google Sheets. Yellow symbolizes students who are in feedback loops.

White means that I’m still awaiting submission and needs follow-up.

With the data represented this way, I know who still I need to follow up with. If I see too many yellow boxes for one assignment, it also tells me that I need to go back and re-design the assignment to make it more accessible for all and revisit the success criteria with my students.

Personal Strategy Two – Assessment Traffic Lights

When the data is more objective, such as in maths, I organize it on a traffic light system.

What you see above is four learning objectives for a maths unit. “B” means before, or prior knowledge from the pre-assessment, and “A” means after from the post-assessment, which has not been administered yet in the above example.

The colours help me personalize my math instruction. Those green students in the pre-assessment will get more challenge-based tasks and work mostly independently in small collaborative groups.

Yellow get some direct instruction; after close monitoring and anecdotal observations, I may send them off to work independently in small groups on some questions and tasks.

Red students get more support and direct instruction from teachers.

If many children are red in a specific learning objective, it informs me that I need to spend a bit more time in that area.

Once the summative assessment is done, the colours inform individual growth and next steps, and perhaps some learning objectives that need further revisiting.

With the data represented this way, communicating strengths, growth and next steps for reporting is super simple.

COETAIL Course Task |  Design an Infographic

We were asked to create an infographic as part of this week’s assignment.

Since parent, teacher and student conferences are quickly approaching, and my current teaching context is home-based, I figured it would be highly purposeful and authentic to design an infographic about some strategies my learners and I discuss often to be successful each day.

This visual can be presented to my students, as well as serve as a great visual to share at the conferences.

My team and other colleagues within my school may benefit from this visual, too.

In addition, I also thought the wider community may find it purposeful, so I decided to add a Creative Commons license to my work that would suit this.

Some COETAIL reflection questions — answered

  • How did this creation process differ from others? I geek out on this kind of stuff, so I had 100% intrinsic motivation in this week’s task and it was totally in my comfort zone.
  • How did the purpose and intended audience impact the final product? Considering audience should be front and center of any media one is creating. Such a crucial skill to teach our learners. We have a whole unit of inquiry-based on this.

Some questions for you, dear reader!

  • Has this post changed your perspective on data at all? If so, do share…
  • How do you tell stories with your data?
  • What software do you use to tell stories with your data?

Before you go, have you snapped up a Canva educator account?

  • Canva is an amazing digital design tool. Even better, they give premium lifetime accounts to educators.
  • If I’ve piqued your interest, then inquire further here.

2 Replies to “The Delight in Data”

  1. Justin,

    First off, the Canva Educator was a life changer for me. My current role is requiring me to create a lot of different presentations for a wide variety of audiences, and I can’t imagine accomplishing any of it without the ease of Canva. I’m a bit obsessed,

    But, more importantly, your viewpoint on the importance of digital storytelling is what is striking a chord with me. Our school is currently trying to redefine and design a new approach to how we utilise and share evidence of learning with all members of our community. From our first initial steps in exploring this as a staff, we have focused on transparency and helping our learners understand the data we are collecting and curating. But, your examples of digital storytelling has got me thinking that the next question we should explore is what story are we telling with our data? Is the story accurate? Can the story be misinterpreted?

    Thank you for the spark that has got me thinking about this!

  2. Hello Justin!

    I started doing something similar in tracking feedback loops and submissions this school year. While it does take time to record all the data down, I have found that having the colour codes and checkboxes helps me quickly identify each student’s progress and determine what kind of support they would need. It also helps to inform my teaching practices. I have found that I am able to clearly understand each of my student’s learning progress and needs. I am working on using the data to differentiate instruction so that everyone is receiving the support they need.

    I liked the infographic you created! The colours are bright and attractive, and the content was presented clearly and concisely! You were able to identify the key points and get your point across. This is something that I am still working on in terms of getting the message across clearly and concisely.

    It leads back to what you mentioned about data storytelling. After creating my own infographic, I realised the importance of the narrative in how you present and deliver the data. It made me think more about the relationship between the textual and graphical elements and how it could be leveraged to enhance and deepen the audience’s understanding of the information.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

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