“Arts budget slashed…” is a headline that is probably all too familiar, especially in schools and districts that serve low-income students. A rich arts-infused education balances and complements deeper instruction in “high-stakes” subjects like language arts and mathematics. As one part of a comprehensive educational experience, the arts promote a well-rounded, intellectual, expressive, and profoundly human experience in the world. Chapter 5 of EL Education’s book Learning that Lasts explores how intentional integration of the arts provides a powerful framework to cultivate skills of inquiry, creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, and craftsmanship.
Data inquiry teams are teams of teachers that meet regularly to analyze student data, to reflect on student progress, and to create action plans that will improve instructional effectiveness. Data inquiry teams focus exclusively on analyzing data for the students they teach and developing plans for responding to the needs and strengths of individual students, groups of students, and particular areas of curriculum. However, data inquiry teams are part of a larger system for using data to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps. In EL Education schools, data is defined as information that has been systematically collected and organized to support analysis, inquiry, and decision-making.
This seventh grade annotated inquiry provides students with an opportunity to explore how words affect public opinion through an examination of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Students will investigate historical sources related to the novel and reactions in the North and South in order to address the compelling question, “Can words lead to war?” This query takes advantage of the mixed messages students often receive about the power of words. Students’ understanding about how words can make a difference is often grounded in discussions of words used to bully, instead of the power of words to encourage reform. This is an ANNOTATED inquiry with additional information on the questions, tasks, and sources within.
You know how the old adage goes—two heads are better than one. This applies to data inquiry teams as well. When a team of professionals meets regularly to analyze student data, to reflect on student progress, and to create action plans, magic can happen. Through this process, teachers can accelerate their ability to improve instructional effectiveness, as well as meet the ever-changing needs of their students. This isn't as easy as it sounds. To do great work, data inquiry teams need the support of school leaders as well as school-wide practices and structures.
One recommendation for data inquiry teams is to regularly analyze interim assessments. Unlike the high stakes standardized assessments, regular interim assessments can gauge student progress when there is still time to act and impact student achievement. Unlike daily class assessments, interim assessments are given at scheduled intervals, often quarterly. They are used to gauge student progress on specific learning targets and to identify trends in errors to inform instructional planning. Though ideally interim assessments are analyzed by multiple teachers who share students, sometimes a teacher must analyze these assessments on her own.