16 Teacher Hacks for Making Data Collection a Piece of Cake

Data is useful, especially when you know how to use it.

data collection

Data collection is not necessarily every teacher’s cup of tea, but in today’s teaching climate, it’s definitely a necessity. After all, good data can provide important information to teachers and students and go a long way toward improving teaching and learning. And if keeping track of all the streams of data coming your way is not exactly your strong suit, here are a few hacks we found to make the process easier and (maybe) just a little bit more fun.

1. Teacher Binder. 

In the world of data collection, this binder is going to be your best friend. Think of it as command central for all things numerical. This version has sections dedicated to parent communication, behavior and assessment data—all brilliantly organized and easy to set up for even the most organizationally challenged.

Student Data Binder
SOURCE: First Grade Smiles

2. Data Tracking Sheets for Your Binder

In addition to the documents included above, you can add these documents to your fabulous binder as well.

Class Data Tracker
SOURCE: Brandy Shoemaker



3. Color-Coded Data Clipboards

If you teach special sections or small-group classes, you can keep each student’s data conveniently attached to a clipboard—color coded so there’s no need to rifle through to make sure you’ve got the right one—hung on a pegboard. These are quick and easy to grab so you can take notes when meeting with individual students.

Data Data Data
SOURCE: Teaching Special Thinkers

4. Storage Crates

Often you want to hold on to papers after you record the numbers. Rather than keeping copies of assessments in your teacher binder, making it bulky and overstuffed, this crate system is a great way to keep track of work samples and other portfolio items.

Crate With Numbered Folders
SOURCE: First Grade Smiles

5. Labeled Bins

If your school requires weekly data reports, you can store them here for easy access. Each student can collect his or her report to take home on the assigned day.

Also, if your students use their own folders to track data, this is a handy storage place. Kids can access their folders when they are needed, but there’s no chance of them getting crumpled into their desks or being lost.

Weekly Reports
SOURCE: Math, Science, Social Studies … Oh My!

6. Sticky-Note System

Be still our hearts: sticky notes! They’re right up there in the popularity ranks with Ziploc bags for most teachers. This is hands-down the easiest, quickest way to keep track of anecdotal notes and informal observations.

Sticky Note System
SOURCE: The Organized Plan Book

7. Easy Bar Graph

Under the category “Work smarter, not harder,” this genius idea enlists your students’ help to record their individual data onto a strip of graph paper, which the teacher then pastes together inside a manila folder. Voilà! Instant data bar graph!

Easy Bar Graph
SOURCE: Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

8. Data Folders for Students

Keeping track of their own data (for certain types of assessments like spelling tests, math facts, reading fluency scores, etc.) gives students ownership of their work and progress and provides them an opportunity to work on their graphing skills to boot!

Data Folders
SOURCE: The Sharpened Pencil

9. And More Data Tracking Sheets for Students

We like these sheets from blogger Bunting, Books, and Bright Ideas as well!

Data Tracking
SOURCE: Bunting, Books, and Bright Ideas

10. Citizenship Binder

Another genius hack! A tracking system for student accountability—all collected by students as part of weekly jobs. Kids take responsibility for monitoring their own behavior, organization and homework. What a great tool for cultivating ownership of their own learning!

Dots Desks Homework
SOURCE: One Teacher’s Take

11. Data Collection Cheat Sheet

A quick and easy reference chart for Speech Language Therapists to use as a consistent, objective way to measure minimal vs moderate vs maximal cueing.

data collection

SOURCE: Speechy Musings

12. Use Progress Monitoring Rings

Create an individual record keeper for each of your students with this free progress monitoring ring set. Less bulky than a notebook, less formal than a clipboard and pen. For a full tutorial on her system, read Mrs. D’s blog.

data collection

SOURCE: Mrs. D’s Corner

Doing Data Walls the Right Way

There’s no doubt that publicly displaying student achievements on classroom data walls as a means of motivating students is a controversial subject. However, we found some adorable examples of data walls that might just do the trick. The key to these boards is that they are limited to a single skill set of foundational skills that mostly require memorization. Giving students permission to monitor their own progress makes it feel more like a game than a report card.

13. Flying High

Kids can add their own bow to the tail of each kite as they master the skills listed.

Flying High
SOURCE: Creativity to the Core

14. Fact Family Flowers

Students get to decorate and attach their own butterflies to each fact family flower.

Fact Family Flowers
SOURCE: Blooming in First

15. Sight Word Gumball Machines

Each student gets to add a gumball to the gumball machine as they master each sight word.

Gumball Machines
SOURCE: Miss Peluso’s Kindergarten

16. Letter/Sound Correspondence

Early learners can add a banana with their name on it to each cluster as they master the individual letter sounds.

SOURCE: Pinterest

What’s your go-to hack for data collection? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! Facebook group.

Also,  check out these classroom procedures that will save your sanity!

16 Teacher Hacks for Making Data Collection a Piece of Cake