This is the latest in a series of blogs from the teacher cohort.
By Beth Zboran
I take pride in my organized file storage. I enjoy saving my work in a logical hierarchy of folders that represent my thinking. I get frustrated with coworkers that lazily rely on the “recently used file list” to locate documents and frown at their disorganized desktops.
In June of 2016 I received an email with information about joining a cohort at CMU called Data Fluency. I created a folder called fluency on my hard drive and started the application. I was excited to learn that I was accepted and quickly moved my documents into an application folder under fluency. So the journey began.
In July the cohort held two weeks of meetings. We discussed core values and talked about inquiry and advocacy. I created folders for reading lists, assignments, pictures, technology and tutorials.
The school year started late August. I had ideas for projects I wanted to do, specifically a mapping project with the middle school, and maybe a current issues website for the web design course. More folders were nested under fluency.
I started talking about these new ideas with my coworkers; words like inquiry, case making and advocacy entered my vocabulary. I shared these ideas with other teachers. Our tenth grade English teacher and I talked about a 360 vista for understanding autism, and another folder was created under fluency. I decided to take 160 eighth grade students on a field trip to document the story of the town of Freeport. We took pictures and recorded narratives and with the help of CMU programmers, created on these three maps.
Through the winter my web design class researched current topics and built websites to voice their opinion about current events. The created a visual image of important data related to their topic using piktochart, they were telling their story and becoming data fluent.
Now the days are getting longer and buds are showing on the trees. Spring is in the air and the end of the school year is in sight. I hope that this experiment in data fluency has paid off with students who are able to think independently, problem solve, find solutions and adapt to changes. I know this is a tall task that will take continued effort on my part, but I’m invested in the effort. I do however have one monumental task to complete before the dismissal bell rings on June 2nd, I need to reorganize my hard drive.
I realized that there are too many folders nested under fluency. Instead of fluency being one folder, one small part of my hierarchical structure, it has become the foundation for all of my planning and teaching. I’m sifting my ideas through the inquiry, case making, advocacy filter. All the subfolders need to be moved outside of fluency, because they stand on their own, in a hard drive that is labeled “fluency”.