Using Data Walls {A JULY Bright Idea!}

We're back with more bright ideas! :)

I thought this would be a great tip to share before heading back to school. It's not something you have to start right away, but it would be good to keep in mind as you head into the new year.

We have a bulletin board in our rooms dedicated just for student data. It's up to each teacher to determine how to use it, so for my classes I chose to chart our reading level data as a group. I want to make a couple of "hairy scary" points first:
  • I never, ever put student names on the reading level data wall. I'm afraid it would defeat the purpose of the data wall being a motivational tool. 
  • We have several conversations about how everyone is at a reading level that is just right for THEM.
  • GROWTH is the focus for us as a team, and as individuals. The "goal" for each 9 weeks is just a guideline.
We have a "reading target" for each 9 weeks according to our district, but I try not to focus on that too much, as many of our kids suffer from the "summer slide" or they're already a few reading levels behind.

After each 9 week grading period, I create a chart that shows the students what our "team" of students looks like as a whole. It's also a great tool for my teaching partner and I as we think about reading groups and math groups. We make a couple of "swaps" between homerooms after each 9 weeks to balance out our groups.

As the year progresses, I keep the most recent chart and the previous grading period's chart on the data wall.

We spend at least one Reader's Workshop period looking at the chart, reflecting, and setting individual goals for the next 9 weeks.

The kids have loved seeing how the levels move across the chart, and we celebrate our successes as a team!

At the end of the year, we are amazed at how much growth they've made as individuals and as a team. It's an easy way to get your students connected to the data you look at all the time, and they're a bit more invested in their progress. :)

I hope you enjoyed this bright idea! Make sure you keep up with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest! Don't forget to check out the rest of my Bright Ideas Peeps in the link-up below!


  1. I love love love the idea of displaying anonymous reading data and setting class goals. That power of teamwork is so intrinsically rewarding! Fantastic idea.

    Teaching with Hope

  2. Our district has also started this. Some schools have it posted in the hallway. They also do it anonymously. It has seemed to really motivate the kids.
    Love Teaching Kids

  3. I know this is the trend, and our district is going this way too but.....I worry about my one or two strugglers and how this public display of their lack of progress will affect them. I know it is anonymous, but they know (and if we're honest, so do many others) who they are. I know that data is a necessary evil, but I would rather tackle it in a more private and personal way with students. I do see the benefit in a team effort thought....I'm just torn. Thanks for the post!

    Kathy O.
    Third Grade Doodles

  4. I'm on the fence. I want to display but I have levels from F to U in my room at different times. I think I'm going to start with individual graphs. Reading level, fluency, and words Their Way to start. Any suggestions?

  5. I'm so glad you pointed out that you don't post individual names. I had a third grade teacher traumatize me with this same sort of thing. In my own class I'll often do a line plot of before and after data. It's great for the kids to see the shift and it gets in another lesson on line plots and analyzing data.

  6. As the mother of a grown daughter that went through school with learning disabilities the idea of posting individual data upsets me. I'm a teacher and I know that we must track data, but not at the expense of our most vulnerable students by posting results. Students in classrooms know which students struggle and which students seem to grasp concepts easily. The idea of posting data, even without names, is like placing a mark on the struggling students. I use data individually to help students track their progress, but not as a public motivational tool for my class to see everyone's scores. This idea is deeply troubling to me as a mother and as a teacher with 25+ years of experience. Please don't humiliate learning disabled students by posting scores. This creates a sense of failure in them. I have seen how test scores have made my own daughter cry when she didn't measure up to the other students. This is NOT a good idea.