Teaching with Data

Ruminating on effective ways to use data to guide instruction in the classroom and other topics.

Archive for the ‘Problem Solving Process’ Category

The problem is occurring because…

Posted by LAUSD Secondary Literacy/ELA on July 14, 2011

Group members first decided which "reasons" they have no control over (can't change). Then they organized their hypotheses into categories: Instruction/Curriculum/Environment/Learner. After doing this step, they chose their top three (stars).


This group took their cue from another teacher in the class. Yesterday John stated that if you first look at your problem residing in the Learner, then you will get "lice."

This group chose their top three hypotheses, rewrote them and then also attached their prediction statements.

I and another facilitator have been working with twelve amazing educators in a Professional Development titled, “Using Data to Target Instruction and Intervention in English Language Arts.” These posters reflect the work we have been doing when working in step two of the Problem Solving Process: Problem Analysis.  The teachers were working with the Affinity Protocol as described in the book Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning.

Protocols provide a structure in which a group can have a constructive conversation around an issue and/or data.  This particular protocol that the teachers used is very effective in getting all the ideas out “on the table,” removing the ideas that are out of their control, categorizing the ideas, and then finally, choosing the top three.

In this training, teachers were working in the Problem Solving Process (Response to Instruction and Intervention) to determine what was causing the problem (hypothesis) they had earlier identified by analyzing various data reports. Once they had brainstormed their ideas about why the problem was occurring and isolated the ideas that they knew they could not change, they categorized their ideas  under four domain headings: Instruction, Curriculum, Environment, and Learner (ICE + L). These domains reflect “where the hypotheses live.” Categorizing this way, helps teachers to be more targeted in their intervention design.  When trying to determine why the problem is happening, we encourage teachers to look at the other domains–Instruction,Curriculum,Environment–before stating the problem is with the Learner.  Yesterday in the training, John commented that if you put the “L” first you have lice; therefore, if you go to the Learner first, you will have “lice.” The third poster illustrates John’s idea. Of course, the hypotheses they eventually chose, did not focus the problem on the learner, so they avoided the lice problem.

Before this training I had never used the Affinity Protocol. Now I am a total convert. After introducing and explaining it to the teachers, they started working. I was a little worried in the beginning because they didn’t seem to be brainstorming as quickly as I expected; however, my worrying was premature. Within five minutes the conversations started, the post-its started multiplying, and they were fully engaged with the task. My partner and I just took pictures, listened in on their conversations, answered question,s and made comments when asked. It was a facilitator’s dream!


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