Using the iPad to Evaluate and Make Data-Driven Decisions


Data is incredibly important in the life of a 21st-century teacher. Our schools are evaluated based on student data. We are evaluated based on student data. And most importantly, our students’ achievement is measured in student data.

iPads make data collection and application easy and paperless. Here’s how teachers can use them to improve their teaching.

Teacher [Self] Evaluation

Administrators shouldn’t be the only ones evaluating teachers and their instruction. The best teachers reflect on their own practices and learn from their daily classroom experiences. Because it can sometimes be challenging to look at your classroom from a different lens, the iPad can serve as a helpful tool for recording information that occurs in class.

One of the most beneficial reflective exercises that I have ever done was recording myself teaching.

Immediately, I became aware of a few “bad habits” I had when speaking in front of the entire class. It was eye opening to see what I looked like in front of my students, but even more so to see what my students were doing when I was busy teaching. When we are in front of 30 students, it becomes impossible to know what they are all doing. The camera provided insight into some classroom management issues that I had, and I was able to quickly fix them.

Save It for Later

With an iPad, recording your lesson is simple. Turn on the camera app, hit Record, and leave it in an area that’s going to capture both you and your students on film. Many administrators are using this method to evaluate teachers, but we should really be using it to evaluate ourselves and reflect.

If videotaping your lessons is intimidating, start with voice recording using an app like QuickVoice. I like to record the part of the lesson where I am delivering new content to gauge how clearly I was able to present the information. This is also a great way to evaluate your questioning techniques.

Upon reviewing the sound clip, you can listen for higher-level questions, effective probing, and differentiation. After trying this once, I realized that my questioning is more effective when I’ve specifically planned which questions I want to ask. Currently, I’m working on improving my cold-calling strategies and a Teach Like a Champion technique called “No Opt Out.”

Organize Feedback Sessions

Watching other master teachers in action is another way to learn a lot about your own practices and add to your bag of tricks. Your school may already have a systematic way for teachers to observe and offer each other feedback.

I suggest using Google Forms to streamline this process and make feedback immediate. When teachers visit each other’s classrooms, they will have a quick checklist of “look-for’s,” and upon submitting their information the teacher who hosted the observation will have timely feedback from their peers.   

Managing and Analyzing Student Data

A teacher that is making data-driven decisions needs to have access to a comprehensive and accessible student database. For this purpose, I definitely prefer Numbers. Numbers takes the cake over Google Docs’ spreadsheet function. The app makes it easy to access and edit your student data using an iPad or computer and leans towards the artistic side with colorful graphs and charts.

Student Assessment

Creating student assessments that can be taken on the iPad makes grading and analyzing their achievement quick and easy. As with teacher evaluation, Google Docs makes assessing students quite simple. Many schools expect teachers to form common assessments for data comparison and discussion. A Google Docs “form” makes all the data immediately accessible. Don’t forget to build in questions for student name and teacher.

Using the iPad as a Clicker

e-clickerYour iPad can also become an instant clicker operating system. There are several clicker systems available for the iPad, but I prefer eClicker Presenter. For only $14.99, you can create and deliver questions to a roomful of students who, in turn, respond to the questions using any iOS device. Teachers can create the questions using the presentation version of eClicker, while students respond using the complementary app eClicker Audience. Results are immediately available, and students receive instant feedback from their devices.

OLE’s New Test Builder

If you are an OLE subscriber, you have access to a versatile test builder that makes test writing easy! Print the test or have your students complete it using an iPad. OLE’s test builder has a variety of question types and makes it easy to add digital charts or graphics.

In-class Assessment

For quick in-class assessment, consider using the iPad app Whiteboard. Insert a picture or PDF file into the background and use your finger or an iPad stylus like Wacom’s to write on top of it. I uploaded a copy of a participation rubric and then evaluated my students while they collaborated for a classroom activity. The process was time efficient and 100% paperless. Download Participation Rubric

Using Your Data

Regardless of how you collect and organize your student data, it’s what you do with it that makes all the difference in the academic achievement of your students. Information gathered through data collection should be used to drive your instruction and ultimately inform what you are doing in class each and every day!

For more ideas on how to use your iPad in the classroom, check out my previous blog posts on must-have apps for students and teachers.

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