Category Archives: Accommodations Tracking

How to Use the Data Editor in ClassMax

The Data Editor is a busy teacher’s best friend in the classroom because it allows you to go back in and delete data you might have erroneously recorded during class, make changes to data you recorded during class, change the dates and times of data recorded in class, and even add data after the fact.  Watch this quick video tutorial to learn how to use the Data Editor in ClassMax:

How to Track Accommodations Usage in ClassMax

Whether you are a specialized teacher working in an ESE school or a general education teacher in a traditional public school, we all have students with special learning needs.  Watch our quick video tutorial below on how to track accommodations usage quickly and accurately using ClassMax.

A Day With ClassMax

Ever wondered what it’s like to use ClassMax in your classroom?  Follow along as our co-founder, Katie Brown, takes you through a day in her classroom with ClassMax in hand.  Be sure to have something to write with as you watch.  You’re going to want to take notes!

Student Data Chats with ClassMax

This time of year, as we get closer to standardized testing season, I like to have individual data chats with my students.  This year, I used ClassMax for the first time during my data chats and it took my student conversations and progress monitoring to a whole new level.  I thought I would share a little today about how I used ClassMax during my data chats to drive our conversation and to document individual achievement plans.  

Data cannot live by ClassMax alone.  I think that’s how the saying goes, right?  For data chats at my school, teachers are required to discuss our school-wide testing program data (we use iReady).  My students had taken their second benchmark test the week before Christmas break, and we all know how well students perform the week before a two week vacation… *eye roll*.  To me, this becomes unreliable data.  It is still valid data, but it is faulty because it does not take into consideration the testing conditions students were under on that one particular day when a benchmark assessment was given.   

To balance out this data, I used my own ClassMax data during my student conversations, too.  I showed them what I was observing in class and it sparked great discussions about if what I was seeing was correct.  We talked about what a higher scoring student might look like in a classroom and what I was looking for from them to demonstrate their understanding.  Then, we compared what I was seeing in the classroom with their benchmark testing data.  In most cases, I was pleased to see that my observations tended to be right in line with their testing performance.  In cases where there was a difference, I talked about that with the student and often our conversations cleared up an error in reasoning a student had.  Overall, I found that using my ClassMax data added a depth to our conversation that I had not had in previous years.  

Lastly, I made sure to record my data chats in each student’s notes for the day.  To make this easier on myself so that I wasn’t writing entire paragraphs for each student (ain’t nobody got time for that!), I simply copied and pasted the following note and then added details during my conversation with the student:  

Test One Score:

Test Two Score:

Highest performing skill:

Lowest performing skill:

Classroom observation notes:  

Logistically, I was able to pull students up for data chats while my classes were writing an essay in class today.  While they worked silently, I called up one student at a time for their data chat.  When they came to my table, we first looked at their data from both iReady tests and discussed what we saw.  Next, we looked at my ClassMax progress reports and talked about classroom performance (and behavior, when that was necessary).  Finally, we filled in the blanks in my ClassMax Notes posted above.  The entire conversation took about 3-4 minutes per student.  

I have always valued data chats.  I know that for some of us, some of the time, they can definitely be a “check the box” requirement.  But when they are done well, I do believe they can motivate students.  Using ClassMax helped me to maximize that quality time with my students and deepened our conversations about their progress.  I know it can do the same for you!

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We’re social! 

          

FB Live Recording: ClassMax Overview

We had a really helpful Facebook Live session yesterday afternoon about different features that ClassMax provides teachers.  We talked about how groups can be used to save you time and sanity, how accommodations monitoring can be quick and simple (and sometimes even done ahead of time!), and how to use reporting during data chats with your administration.  

If you missed our session, it is posted here and in our Facebook page.

We will be scheduling more of these in the future and will center each of them around particular areas, features, and uses.  Be sure you are following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so that you are the first to know when sessions are scheduled.  

We’re social! 

          

Accommodations Tracking and Why My Students Deserve It

In the past, I have taught a high level of ESE and low-performing students.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to have upwards of 13-15 ESE students in one class period.  Tracking which accommodations I have used for 13 different students throughout a 50 minute class period was almost impossible.  With that many students in a class (plus another 10 or so of regular students without accommodations or special needs), I needed to spend my time TEACHING, not tracking.  This left me scrambling at the end of every month to complete my accommodations usage charts that had to be submitted.  And, to be honest, that was often done in haste about 20 minutes before I had to turn it in.

This frustrated me every month because my students needed BOTH from me.  They needed me to be able to teach them and they deserved the precision of accurately tracked, effective data driving my instruction.  I’m a firm believer in the function of data, but, like most teachers, I also live in the real world and teach in a real classroom where those two things do not necessarily co-exist.

For this reason, accommodations tracking was a primary goal for me when I created ClassMax.  There were a few non-negotiable criteria for me throughout the development process and I think ClassMax has solved all these issues for me – and now for you, too!

  • Speed – I needed to be able to record the accommodations usage quickly and on the fly.  One of the ways ClassMax solves this issue is by allowing me to assign accommodations usage to groups and to whole classes.  When I am teaching a class of primarily ESE and low-level learners, most of the time, I am using class-wide accommodations.  If I provide a graphic organizer for a class to work within, I don’t want to have to go to all 13 individual student profiles of ESE students and note that they were just provided a graphic organizer.  Instead, I can select either a group of students or my entire class and assign that accommodation to them, saving me time and allowing me to continue teaching.  Which brings me to my next non-negotiable…
  • Uninterrupted teaching – Recording accommodations usage couldn’t interrupt my teaching.  ESE and low-performing students need the most from a teacher.  I can’t have my face buried in a computer or tablet screen with those kinds of needs sitting in my classroom.  With ClassMax’s pre-filled list of accommodations, I can assign accommodations usage while I teach, never having to pause instruction or disrupt time I am spending with a student.  In my own classroom, this looks like me carrying my iPad in my hands at all times, open to the current class period I am teaching.  Whenever I stop to clarify instructions or to provide some one-on-one time with a student, I simply select their name and assign the accommodations to them as I stand up to continue circulating around the room.  I can assign an accommodation in seconds, leaving me free to focus on students and not paperwork.
  • Flexibility – I had to be able to add and adjust accommodations usage as I went.  The majority of my ESE students function with the same basic set of 5-10 standard accommodations in their IEP.  General things that good teachers are automatically doing in their classroom – preferred seating, repeating and clarifying directions, chunking information, providing copies of notes, etc.  But we all have those ESE students who require more personalized needs.  Hearing impaired, speech impaired, health issues, emotional behavior disorders… and the list goes on.  These kids have needs above and beyond even a “typical” ESE student and I need to be able to track those, too.  ClassMax allows me to add custom accommodations to my prefilled list, which means I add it one time and it will always show up as an option for me to select, turning my “prefilled list” into a “personalized list” in just a few seconds.

Another thing I needed with regards to accommodations was a quick way to access who needed accommodations and what accommodations they were to receive.  Generally speaking, as teachers, we know who needs what in our classes.  But how often do particular students fall through the cracks?  Students who maybe perform well, but are still struggling with significant learning disorders.  Students who can compensate for their challenges, but who still need and deserve the extra help.  Students who use 3 of their accommodations so often that we forget they actually are entitled to 4 other, less frequently used accommodations, too.

With the color coded apples, it takes no time at all to glance at your computer or tablet screen and know right away who needs a daily check in during a class period.  Five colored apples are provided for cataloguing students in a private manner that is known only to the teacher.  In my classroom, all of my students are green apples, ESE students are red apples, 504 students are blue, and health issues are yellow (for me, personally, if a student qualifies for more than one of these areas, I mark them red).  This keeps any student with special concerns from falling through the cracks in my classroom.

Even reminding myself of what specific accommodations a student receives is quick and easy.  In the Student Information profile, students are flagged by category (ESE, 504, gifted, etc.) and then their individual accommodations are listed.  This means when I am working with a specific student, I can simply open their student profile and see their accommodations requirements all in the same place.

While none of this is groundbreaking technology (I’m a teacher first, remember?), ClassMax provides small details that make a teacher’s job easier and more effective.  Why track data if we can’t use it effectively?  Why provide accommodations if they aren’t exact information?  Why collect information if we can’t use it quickly and easily to make our instruction better?

At ClassMax, we believe in collecting data quickly and efficiently in real time in order to improve teaching practices.

Because that’s what our students deserve.

 

Using Data with ClassMax Groupings

I went to a training today for my district and throughout the entire training, they were talking about using standards tracking to form differentiated student groupings for instruction.  And my little ClassMax heart soared because not only can ClassMax effectively and efficiently track observable standards-based performance in students, but it can also give you a place to organize your students into groupings of all kinds, maximizing your classroom success.

(Cue the angels singing…)

The student grouping feature lives on the class dashboard.

When I first created ClassMax, I envisioned this grouping feature with very basic usage because that’s how I was using it in my classroom.  I had three groups:  Enrichment, Grade-Level, and Low.  But the more I have sat and thought about how I can use this feature in my classroom this year, the more ideas I have come up with!

  

Today at my training, I thought about grouping students based on standards performance.  Let’s say I give an assessment and I have a handful (okay, maybe TWO hands full…) of kids who bomb the assessment on a particular standard.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to group those kids in ClassMax and then recall their grouping in a single click, whenever or wherever you needed?  I’d basically only have to look at the data report once (which is all I can take, really…) and form my ClassMax groups from those results.  From then on, anytime I need to see my data results, I simply click the standard group and see who is in it.

I could be sitting in a data meeting with my admin and someone might say, “Hmm… I wonder how many of Mrs. Brown’s kids struggled with RL.1.3…” and I could be like, “Oh, it was 8.  And their names are….”  AND THEY’D ALL BOW DOWN AND THEN GIVE ME A PUPPY.

Would I have that data without ClassMax?  Of course.  ClassMax is just putting it at my fingertips.

Then, let’s say later I am working in a small group with that group of kids who scored low in RL.1.3.  I could pull that group up on ClassMax and have that open in front of me to record their standards progress on the spot as we work.  And since we are all rockstar teachers, let’s now pretend that the entire small group has reached the next level on the standards scale.  I can record progress for an entire group in one click, too.  CLICK, CLICK, DONE.

Another way I plan to use groups in ClassMax is for seating assignments.  I use tables in my classroom, so kids work with their table groups every day.  Why not have a table group listed?  And when the entire table is acting out of control, I can just record their behavior for the entire table in just one click.  Or, if they are all working well together and I see them progressing up the standards scale, I can mark that collectively, too.  CLICK, CLICK, DONE.

You can use groupings to help track your special needs learners, too.  I teach primarily low-performing ESE students.  Often times, there are at least a handful of my kids who receive push-in or pull-out services through my language arts class.  With ClassMax, I can put these students into a group and when they receive their services, I can simply select the entire group and assign them an accommodation usage.  Instantly, I have tracked that entire group for their accommodations and it took two clicks.  CLICK, CLICK, DONE.

Lastly, let’s say I am having my students work on group projects.  If I make a ClassMax group for each project group, I can easily track who is working with whom, what their topic is for their project (I named my groups based on their project topic), what level they are on their standards, and if I have assigned any accommodations to the group.  I can even use the notes feature to assign comments about the group’s performance to use the next time I am working with them.  CLICK, CLICK, DONE.

My biggest fear about ClassMax is that people will look at it’s simplicity and think, “Eh.”  But the simplicity is by design.  The intention of ClassMax is that it can be used to YOUR level of need.  You can simply record student data or you can use ClassMax to meet even greater needs.

I have spent this entire preplanning week thinking of ways I can make ClassMax work harder for me.  What can I do with this tool?  And to be honest, there’s not much it CAN’T do because of it’s simplicity.  I can really use it however I dream up and I think that’s becoming one of my favorite, unintentional features that we offer.

Teacher on, teacher friends.  

Katie Brown

8th Grade Language Arts Teacher and ClassMax Founder

By a Teacher, For Teachers

Hello, Teacher Friends!

My name is Katie Brown and I am a public school teacher in Orlando, Florida.  I teach 8th grade language arts and am the language arts department chair for my school.  I am also a digital teacher leader in my county, which means I model technology usage in the classroom for other teachers.  And I have a Masters degree from Quinnipiac University in Educational Leadership, with an emphasis in digital learning.

(DISCLAIMER: I do not glow like this in real life.)

I tell you all this because it’s what I want to know about other teachers when they start giving me advice.  What in the world do YOU know about it?!  is often my first thought when I sit in a conference or workshop and someone is trying to introduce me to a classroom tool.  While I work for a really great school district (and one of the largest in the country!), it’s no secret among teachers that one of the most frustrating parts of utilizing classroom management tools or learning management systems in our classrooms is that they are often created and pushed out by people at the top of the education food chain.  And more often than not, those people tend to have been removed from the classroom for quite a while, if they were ever in it to begin with.

So, before we go any further, you should know that I am a teacher.  First and foremost, forever and ever, amen.  I love teaching. I love lesson planning.  I love creating activities and assignments.  I love data.  I love other teachers.  But, more than any of those things, I love students.  I love seeing them perk up in a classroom when they finally – FINALLY – understand something.  They sit up straighter in their seats, write or type a little faster than before, and might even be coerced into answering a question out loud in class.  (I teach middle school, remember?  Coercion is practically built into my lesson plans!)

I think that’s the frustration that I have with the education system today.  It isn’t always student centered.  In fact, teachers often have to go out of their way to make sure their students are at the center of their classroom, and no where is this more apparent than in our standardized assessment process.  I’m one of those weird, mythical unicorns in education because I happen to love data. But what I don’t love is that data is often a product of how a student felt on a particular testing day and that frustrates me.  My students demonstrate more of their understanding to me gradually on a day-to-day basis in my classroom than they do on the spot with a bubble sheet in front of them.  Wouldn’t it be great, I thought to myself, if I could quantify what I am observing in my classroom?

And that goes right along with my friend, Dr. Robert Marzano, whom I call in my head, Dr. Bobby.  (SIDE NOTE:  One time, I put a picture of Dr. Bobby as the wallpaper on my teacher computer in my classroom, kind of as a joke – Sorry, Dr. Bobby – and my students kept asking all day, “Is that your dad?” Ha!)  Dr. Bobby says that in order for a teacher to be INNOVATING (those of us in Marzano districts just shivered a little there), we have to know where every student in the classroom is on the standards-based scale at any given moment in a classroom.

Yeah, right.

I don’t know about you, but my classes are full, busy, and constantly active, making it really difficult for me to accurately assess and, especially, track where every student is on the scale.  And that’s where ClassMax was born.  I needed a way to track what I was recording at a glance in the classroom.  I needed it to be simple, no more than a few clicks, and I needed it to be useful data, instead of me just running to my spreadsheet at the end of every class period or (more likely) at the end of the day, trying to recall what I had seen that day in my students.

So, I drew this is a notebook:

And then I showed it to my husband when I got home from school, and said, “I think this would be useful to teachers.”  To which he responded (God bless his sweet, supportive soul), “Okay, what else would you want it to do?”

I spent the next week thinking about all the simple things I had to track in my classroom that a) made my teaching better b) took time away from my teaching and c) was required reporting for my school or district.  If I was going to be tracking progress on standards, why not start tracking everything in one place?  By the end of the week, I had identified three different areas that were necessary for on-the-spot tracking in my classroom:

  1. Standards-based progress monitoring   
  2. Accommodations usage
  3. Behavior

Once I had a concrete idea in place, my husband, Chris, and I began forming our company and our web development team.  We have spent the past three months turning my little notebook into a functioning platform for teachers that “maximizes classroom success.”  (Pretty great tag like, right?!)

In the past two or three weeks, things have started coming together and I am beginning to see my silly little hand drawings come to life.

Progress Monitoring went from the picture above to this:  (No standards or text has been added to my working prototype yet, so ignore that weird Latin.  Yours will be in English!)

Accommodations tracking went from this:

To this:

 

Behavior tracking went from this:

To this:

And the overall look of the dashboard went from this:

To this:

I am so proud of our team and what we have put together because every square inch of this classroom management system is made for teachers.  It is easy, quick, reliable data reporting that actually saves time in the classroom.  And what teacher doesn’t need more time?!

Over the next week, I’ll be explaining and profiling different features of ClassMax here on the bloggity blog.  We’ll be taking a look at the three primary features – progress monitoring, accommodations usage, and behavior tracking – but we’ll also look at other features we have added to just make life easy, like our seating chart creator, student grouping ability, hall pass monitoring, and bell sync technology.

I’m so excited to share this product with you.  Not only will it help us be INNOVATING teachers, not only will it help us save time in our classrooms, not only will it help organize meaningful data, but first and foremost, it is going to make us better teachers.  It’s going to maximize our classroom success, and I don’t mean that as a tag line.

Although, it’s a pretty darn good tag line, isn’t it?

HAPPY TEACHING, TEACHER FRIENDS!

If you haven’t already, head over to www.classmaxapp.com and sign up to be notified when ClassMax launches in a few short weeks!