Using Data for Meaningful Change

As an educator, I believe we need to look to our data to make meaningful change for our students and ourselves. Data comes in many forms – from hard data to perception data. Both play an important role in the change process.

To assist schools in using data to make meaningful changes, I believe I must also practice using data in my own life. Today a friend and colleague, @FranMcVeigh, posted her first of 31 posts in the “Slice of Life” blogging challenge. Her post,  March Challenge: Slice of Life, takes a look at the alphabet and more specifically, alphabet books. The challenge caught my eye. Could this be the gentle nudge I need to get back to blogging? I am taking the challenge!

Early in my career as a literacy consultant I was privileged to be part of the State Wide Reading Team in Iowa, or SWRT. We learned to use data well in the continuous school improvement process. Each set of data was analyzed with 4 main guiding questions – 4 questions I still use today when collaborating with schools in the area of data analysis. There are times we reword them to fit the individual data set, but the gist of these 4 questions remain the same.

Look at the facts. Ask questions. Determine Needs. Make a Plan.

Look at the Facts: What do you notice when you look at these data? What are you comfortable about saying about student or staff performance based on these results? 
Ask questions: What additional questions do these data generate?
Determine Needs: What do these data indicate students need to work on? Based on these data, what can we infer teachers need to work on?  
Make a Plan: What do the results and their implications mean for your school, district, or regional improvement plans?

So, here I sit looking ahead to a blogging challenge. Why did this appeal to me? What am I thinking? Am I REALLY going to write for 31 days straight? Is that too lofty of a goal? I better take a look at the data!

Look at the Facts:  I have had my blog for almost 4 years. My 2012 and 2013 blog hit totals were much higher than 2010 and 2011, but my 2013 totals did slip a bit from 2012. Currently I have 118 posts. 11 posts were written in 2013. 27 were written in 2012. 72 were written from the start of my blog in July of 2010 to Dec. 2011. I know I use to write at least once a week. I am comfortable in saying my blogging habit has been slipping.

Ask Questions: Why has my blogging habit been slipping? Are other life situations taking its place? Have my thoughts on blogging changed? What do I gain from blogging? I am thankful readers continue to find my blog on a daily basis, but am I providing enough content for them to stay? Are my blog hits over exaggerated since spam comments continue to surface on my blog? (Thank goodness for filters to catch them!)

Determine the Need: I still feel blogging is one of the best professional reflective processes I’ve added to my toolkit. The global connections are invigorating. I can honestly say that there hasn’t been anything stopping me from blogging. In fact, at the present I may have more time to blog than I did in the past. When I blog I know I feel more confident in my writing skills. It provides me the opportunity to share and learn from others. Therefore, I do believe I need to get back into the blogging habit!

Action Plan: I will take the Slice of Life Challenge and blog for the next 31 days of March. Along the way I will reflect on the changes both personally and professionally. I will start a list of potential blog topics and add to it often. I will review past blog posts that seemed to be well received to determine if there are ways to expand them and share additional resources. I will use the advice that I use to give my students – Conquer the power of the blank page! 

Blogging has provided me an opportunity to network with educators. It has re-energized my passions in the field of education.  I believe Together We Are Better! 

Will you consider taking this challenge?

Books of Interest on the Topic of Blogging

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  • Jaana 1 Mar

    Love your Slice of Life graphic!!! Welcome to the Slice of Life community! I was very intrigued by your way of approaching the March writing challenge. But your post also reminded me about the important questions when looking at data. We have a data analysis PD coming this week. Thanks for being a voice I needed to hear today!

    • Kathy Perret 1 Mar

      Thank you for your comments, Jaana. I’m glad it was a voice you needed to hear today. I hope your data analysis professional development goes well this week. Using data to drive instructional changes and meet student needs is powerful.


  • Lindy Lou 1 Mar

    I like the way you use the 4 guiding questions in your personal life. Thanks for sharing the book list for blogging

    • Kathy Perret 1 Mar

      Thank you for your reply, Lindy Lou! I’m a firm believe we must walk the talk. If I’m asking teachers to use the guiding questions to look at their instruction and student needs – I’d better model that both personally and professionally. I’m glad the book list was helpful. I love connecting teachers with books! Look for more ideas in future posts!


  • Tara Smith 1 Mar

    Well, you are nothing if not scientific in your approach to the March Challenge. Welcome! Writing every day is a habit, once begun in March, lasts for a long time.

    • Kathy Perret 1 Mar

      Thank you for your comments, Tara. I agree. We form habits one step at a time. March is only the beginning!


  • spillarke 1 Mar

    Welcome to the Slice of Life community! Your look at the facts were an interesting contrast to Kevin’s auto-ethnography about his past postings in the challenge: https://dogtrax.edublogs.org/2014/03/01/slice-of-life-the-wayback-view/

    Data informs and is ubiquitous. I like how you take the data-driven, quantitative look at your blog. Count what matters. Happy slicing!

    • Kathy Perret 1 Mar

      Thank you for your comments and suggestion to look at Kevin’s post! I look forward to learning from so many that have taken the Slice of Life Challenge in the past.


  • Deb Day (@mrsday75) 1 Mar

    Yea! More Iowa people! I love that you and Fran have joined in the challenge. This will be my fourth year and it definitely keeps me writing and thinking! Can wait to see what else you share.

    • Kathy Perret 1 Mar

      Thanks for the comments, Deb! We Iowans have to stick together! This will be my first year. I’m glad I found the challenge. I look forward to learning from all of you that have participated in the past!


  • Sue Dunlop (@Dunlop_Sue) 5 Mar

    Great challenge for yourself. One piece of advice if you will permit me: stick to 350 – 500 words. Much easier to get to it. Seth Godin does it.

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