Tag Archives: notebooks

Easy STEM Data Collection for Teachers and Students

During this series, we’ve talked about some easy ways for both students and teachers to collect STEM data to help deepen understanding.  Here’s a look at what we discussed:

Charts and Graphs
Meaningful Analysis
STEM Notebooks/Notebook Data
Data Trackers
Rubrics and Checklists
Team Trackers
Formative Assessments

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Formative Assessments

I’ve talked a lot about Formative Assessments (here- Engaging Students in STEM: Formative Assessments and here too- 10 Formative Assessments for STEM).  If you don’t already use them, think about building them into your class structure.  They are a quick, easy way to collect data on student understanding and depth of understanding.  You don’t need to add them to the multiplying pile of papers to grade, you can just flip through them to see what students understand, are foggy on and totally don’t get.

Knowing this information, even if it is just quick and dirty, helps you skill group kids for reteaching, review key concepts the next day and plan upcoming lessons.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Color Strips

This week we’re going to talk about another easy method for collecting data, but this one has the bonus of helping you take the first few steps analyzing it too.  Color strips involve students in identifying which skills they need to focus on (and which skills might need retaught in a small group, one-on-one, etc.).

Color strips are used after giving a traditional assessment (or using the color strips for your formative assessments).  Here’s how they work- After the assessment has been graded and handed back, students should get out their crayons or colored pencils.  Assign a color for correct answers and a different color for incorrect answers.  As you review each question, students will take their color strip and color each numbered square the correct color.

Here’s the beauty of the color strips- collect them and put them in order (or not- I used to assign each student a number and have them put it next to their name so that I could quickly and easily put papers in order).  Then, tape each to a larger piece or paper or the inside of a file folder.  Now you can look down each column and see which concepts the group has or has not mastered.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Team Trackers

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Data Trackers, which are an easy way for teachers to collect and analyze whole-class data.  These are fantastic if you have a small class, only teach one subject or have an appropriate amount of planning time.  But what if you have 32 students and your planning time is nowhere to be found?

Using Team Trackers might be a good solution for you. For the most part, Team Trackers are designed to be used by the students/team themselves.  It does take time to teach students how to thoughtfully assess themselves, but working in teams will generally help them to be honest about their strengths and weaknesses.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Rubrics and Checklists

So far we’ve been discussing easy ways to collect data for STEM.  We’ve talked about a few ways for students to improve their data collecting (tables, charts and graphs, meaningful analysis, observations, and STEM Notebooks) and have moved to sharing some easy ways to help teachers collect STEM data.

This week’s focus is on rubrics and checklists.  We all know them and love them, but who has time to create them?  To help your students further buy-in to a project (or to their own learning) ask for their help in creating a rubric.  Start by having students suggest the categories that should be assessed and them have them work in groups to complete the scale for each category.  Collect their rubrics and combine them to create a rubric for the entire class.

If your students are familiar with using rubrics and checklists, this should be an easy extension, but what if they aren’t?  If students are not accustomed to using rubrics and checklists or you just don’t have the time to work with students to create them, here are some that will help!

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Data Trackers

So far, we’ve talked about easy ways that students can collect STEM data, including tables, charts and graphs, meaningful analysis, observations, and STEM Notebooks.

Now, we’re going to switch gears a bit and discuss some ways that teachers can easily collect STEM data to help their students, specifically, a data tracker document that helps the teacher zero in on a particular skill, standard or student.

Using a simple data tracker helps the teacher focus on a particular skill of standard.  It helps to cut through all of the clutter and allows us to isolate and assess.  The better we become at assessing, the better feedback and direction we can give to students.  Plus, having these documents handy can really help when it comes to skill grouping, report cards, and even parent conferences.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- STEM Notebooks

If you’ve ever read any of my blog posts, you’ll quickly learn three things about me:

  • I (heart) STEM
  • Working with teachers and students energizes me!
  • I have a pretty deep obsession with STEM Notebooks.

Interactive STEM Notebooks are a great way for students to show what they know. They help students as they organize their quantitative data gathered on their tables and charts and graphs, but they also are the perfect place for their qualitative data like observations, meaningful analysis and artifacts too.

If you haven’t used STEM Notebooks before, give them a try and be amazed at how helpful they are for both students and teachers.  Students love them because they can take ownership of them and teachers love them because they help keep kids organized and on track.  What could be better? All of the previous products for this series include specially formatted pages for students to glue into their STEM Notebooks, so try them out and let me know what you think!

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Observations


Recording observations are something I usually stress when we talk about Interactive STEM Notebooks, but getting students to collect that qualitative data is really important regardless if you use them in your classroom or not.  When students are starting out with design challenges and don’t really have a handle on what they should be testing and measuring, so getting them to capture their observations is key.  Observations are a great way to ease students into collecting data because making an observation is easy,  You just write down what you see.

We all know that if we told students to do just that (“Just write down what you see.”), that some/most of those “observations” would be pretty interesting and likely not related to the project at hand.  So, providing a guide to help students understand what makes a good observation (and a not so good observation) helps them see the difference.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Meaningful Analysis


As I mentioned last week, my students were absolute wizards at creating graphs.  They could draw a bar graph that would put some adults to shame.  But, asking them what the data meant was a totally different story.

So how do you get students to write thoughtfully about their data?   I started by having students answer a couple of key questions to help them focus on writing about the right kind of information.  Then, I gave them STEM Sentence Starters to help them form the right kind of sentences.  Providing this scaffolding really helped and once they got the hang of it, they began writing great paragraphs to support their killer graphs.

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Easy Data Collection for STEM- Charts and Graphs


Another easy way for students to collect and make sense of data is for them to graph it.  I don’t know about your students, but my students LOVED to graph things.  When we first started making graphs, my students couldn’t tell you what any of it meant (stay tuned for next week), but they could crank out one stellar looking bar graph.

As students progress through school, the trusty bar graph is always there.  But, what about the other kinds of graphs?  STEM gives students an opportunity to experiment with other kids of graphs that likely might be a better choice for for their data.  Line graphs, pie charts, and scatter plots help students see data in a more visual, and hopefully more meaningful way.

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