Category Archives: ClassMax

Become a ClassMax Ambassador and Earn $ for Your Classroom!

At ClassMax, we pride ourselves on being a teacher-driven product, which is why we are turning to teachers to help us get the word out about our ClassMax Schools platform.

In a ClassMax School, not only do all teacher have accounts, but administrators have accounts, as well.  The administrator dashboard allows an administrator to see exactly what is going on in their school in real time, at a quick glance.  From here, administrators can run reports by standard, teacher, student, date, tracking element – and so much more!

In addition to the administrator dashboard, our ClassMax Schools have a few added features, such as the ability for a teacher to assign information to any student in the school.  This is especially helpful for push-in teachers who work with many different students, in many different classes.

But perhaps our most popular school feature is our PBIS tracking program, MaxPoints.  In a ClassMax School, teachers are able to give positive behavior points to any student in the school, to groups within their own classes, or to their entire class at one time.  These points accumulate into a student bank of credits, which can then be spent on incentives.

If you think that ClassMax Schools would be something your administration would be interested in hearing more about, become a ClassMax Ambassador!  Set up a meeting with your administrator and one of our team members for a quick virtual demonstration of the entire ClassMax Schools platform.  If your school purchases, you receive $500 for classroom supplies as our way of saying thank you for spreading the word!  But we won’t stop there!  For every school you bring on as a ClassMax School, you’ll receive an additional $250 for your classroom.  So, spread the words, teacher friends, and earn some cool stuff for your own classrooms, too!

To schedule a demo for your school, email katie@classmaxapp.com.

Why is ClassMax Different?

With so many digital tools out there for teachers to use, why use ClassMax?  Let’s find out…

First, ClassMax is the only CMS (classroom management system) that turns teacher observations into tangible data.  Administrators want data to drive instruction, which means there is added step of collecting the data.  Be it from a test, a quiz, a formative assessment, an activity in class, or an exit slip, there has to be something that a child submits and a teacher processes or grades in order to gather data.  With ClassMax, that step can often be eliminated because data is input based on teacher observations.  So, instead of having groups submit their assignments and the teacher having to grade them all (when she probably already knows on her own who is struggling and who is mastering…), ClassMax teachers can input the data based on what they see kids doing in class, as they are working.  Did Abigail ask a low level question?  Did Michael lead his group using academic vocabulary and complex understanding of the standard?  Teachers don’t always need to give an assessment to know how their students are doing.  With ClassMax, those observations are quickly input on our four-point learning scale and they become data that is as effective as those formative assessments you were about to spend three hours grading.  Not only does this save instructional time, but it also gives professional control back to the professional educator (imagine that!).

The second major difference that ClassMax provides is the ability to track just about anything that happens on a daily basis in a classroom in the same place.  Raise your hands, teacher friends, if you have more than three websites used to collect student information, more than three spreadsheets holding data from your students, and more than 10,000 Post-It Notes stuck to your desk with random things you need to remember to log somewhere.  (Raising my hand!)  Data collection is one of those hot issues right now in education and so the solution for many schools has been to COLLECT ALL THE DATA!  But what that translates to in a classroom teacher’s day is pieces of student information in lots of different places.  It makes utilizing data difficult, cumbersome, and time-consuming, which is why so many of us, ultimately, decide it isn’t worth the effort.  With ClassMax, all of your information is stored in one place – ESE accommodations, IEP goals, behavior, attendance, seating charts, hall passes, standards-based progress, and so much more!  With the use of our custom standards upload, teachers can load in any element they want to track on a four-point scale.  Assessing performance within a group?  Looking for research skills in addition to the paper they have to submit?  These are skills that should be assessed, even if they aren’t standards-based.  Using our custom standards uploader, teachers can assess on these skills quickly and efficiently.  The only other tool you should need is your school or district grade book program and you are ready to roll.

Lastly, ClassMax is different because of the structure of our company.  We were founded and created by an 8th grade language arts teacher who needed a tool that collected everything she was required to track in one place and that actually saved her time.  This means that our product is teacher-centric, while so many other CMS platforms are student or district focused.  Our platform uses simple lines, bright colors, and easy to see buttons so that busy teachers can use it quickly on the go.  Along those same lines, ClassMax was originally distributed and sold directly to the classroom teacher at a price point that teachers could afford.  Most CMS programs are marketed and sold to districts or school administrators, which often means that by the time it gets into the hands of the teacher, it is no longer teacher friendly.  Our first and most important customers are teachers.  Always and forever, amen.  While we have ClassMax Schools, the product itself continues to be driven and developed by teachers, making it easy to use on the go and as adaptable and fast-paced as your classroom has to be.

Admittedly, ClassMax isn’t for everyone – no product is.  It works best in a classroom where a teacher has a laptop, tablet, or phone with wifi.  A desktop computer can be difficult to get back and forth to – though we’ve see it done by some of our superusers!  It works best on Chrome or Firefox (or really anything other than Internet Explorer).  It works best with teachers who are self-driven and motivated to improve learning outcomes in their classrooms or by struggling teachers who need some guidance in their classroom management.  But if you can make ClassMax a regular, consistent part of your teaching day, we know that you, too, will understand why ClassMax is different and will see the difference in your own classroom.

August Updates

We have been busy making ClassMax even more useful and purposeful this summer and are happy to announce three new updates that might make your teacher lives a little easier.

  1. Color-Coded Behavior Reports – Thanks to feedback from a very helpful teacher user, we now have color-coded behavior reports, making it easy to see negative behavior, positive behavior, and consequences at a glance.  
  2. Archiving Classes – Now, it is easier than ever to archive class periods from your Settings menu by going to Settings and then Periods.  From here, you can archive classes when you are done with them or unarchive them with a simple click.  
  3. Live Chat Support – With our new live chat support on the dashboard now, you can reach out to ClassMax even during your instructional time to get quick responses and continue on your teaching way!  

We hope you’ll enjoy these new features and that it makes your teacher day a little bit easier!

A Teacher’s Guide: Using Data to Drive Your Instruction

As educators, we hear that popular buzz phrase all the time: “Use your data to drive your instruction.”  I don’t know about you, but whenever I heard that phrase, I would completely agree:

  • Yes!  I want my teaching to be more rigorous!
  • Yes!  I want to be purposeful and intentional with my instruction!
  • Yes!  I know my data can help me do that!

But then I would stop and really think about how that would look in my classroom and I found myself with lots of questions:

  • Okay, but WHAT data should drive my instruction?
  • Where am I driving my instruction anyway?
  • What does that look like in my classroom?

I have always had a love/hate relationship with data.  On one hand, I know there is power and insight in it.  When I had quarterly data chats with my admin and weekly data discussions with my PLC, I could see the value and bounty that data could bring to my instructional practices.  But when my administrators left and my PLC went back to their own classrooms, I was often left looking at a spreadsheet and trying to reconcile how in the world it even mattered in my lesson plans.  My biggest issue with using data to drive my instruction was that, often times, the data came too late.  It was after we had moved on in our unit or even after our unit had finished, so in order for me to go in and reteach, I was having to jump out of sequential order of my instructional calendar.  I would get quiz results or benchmark assessments back and think, “How am I going to go back and teach central idea of nonfiction texts when I’ve already moved on to character analysis in fiction writing?!”

And that’s when ClassMax was born.

As an educator, we know our students well enough to know when they are struggling with a concept.  But what do we do with that knowledge?  It isn’t DATA, but, darn it, I’ve seen that kid struggle and I know they aren’t mastering the topic yet.  With ClassMax, teachers are able to quantify what they see in their classrooms, turning those 100 times a day when we think to ourselves, “Matthew is really struggling,” or “Claire needs some extra help with that skill” into actual, reportable data right there on the spot.  No waiting for a test score.  No waiting even for an exit ticket at the end of the period to tell me what I’m already going to know.  I create my own data as I teach. 

It is in this instantaneous, organic data collection that using data to drive instruction can really come to life.

Let’s look at a real example.  Let’s say that I just taught a lesson on the water cycle to my 2nd grade class (P.S. In real life, I was a middle school Language Arts teacher, so if I botch this example, just go with it…).  I teach my awesome lesson and then turn my students loose with some sort of academic task.  As they are working, I am walking through the room, answering questions and collecting data through the progress monitoring feature of ClassMax.  I can assess an entire class of students in under two minutes with ClassMax.  TWO MINUTES.  Which means that in two minutes, I have quantifiable data to drive my instruction.

So, I have assessed my students and now, merely five minutes into their assignment, I have data to use to drive my instruction.  I’m going to run a report on the standard I am tracking right there on the spot as my students are working.

Here’s the standard I am teaching (I realize this is a language arts standard, but we are wearing our imagination hats, right?  Go with it…).  If I click the standard, it is going to show me who is where on their progress.  And, remember, this is from the data I just collected five minutes ago.  It’s fresh meat, teacher friends.  In less then five minutes, I have assessed my students and now have the data in my hand so immediately drive my instruction.

From that two minute data collection in class, I can immediately start addressing learning needs during my lesson – not after the fact.  I know that I should probably go sit one-on-one with my red student because she is struggling more than her classmates.  I know that I should probably pull my yellow scoring students into a small group for a little reteaching or to clarify some misunderstandings.  I even know who is wasting their time by doing the current assignment and is already ready to move into an enrichment activity.

THAT is using data to drive instruction, teacher friends.  It is collecting realtime data in your classroom from what you are seeing and hearing as an education professional and then immediately using that data to change how you are reaching students.  There is no waiting for quiz or test results to come back.  There is no analysis in a big spreadsheet.  There is no creating separate lessons.  It is simple assessing students where they are and adapting your instructional practices accordingly, in realtime.

While assessment data is highly valuable in a classroom and should not be replaced or undervalued, ClassMax allows for an additional layer of assessing that is teacher-driven and instantaneous.  It is a powerful tool to have in your hands, teacher friends.  What will you do with it?

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Are you a teacher interested in an individual teacher account?  Click here for information and pricing!

Are you an administrator or district personnel interested in ClassMax for a school or district?  Click here for site licensing information and pricing!

Creating ClassMax Seating Charts for Non-Traditional Seating

The seating chart feature of ClassMax is great for organizing a traditional classroom.  In the “Fixed” seating chart mode, you can automatically arrange students by first or last name, in ascending or descending order.  It makes creating a seating chart a breeze.

If you want to arrange students in a different method, you can simply click over to the “Flexible” seating chart mode and you are able to move your student icons around into a seating chart that better fits your classroom.  

But what if you have tables or untraditional seating?  In my classroom, I have tables of all shapes and sizes and I often move these tables around for different activities, depending on the needs of my lesson.  I came up with an alternative way to use ClassMax seating charts for my style of classroom and thought I would share with you today.

I selected to work in the “Flexible” mode first.  Then, I selected the number of rows equivalent to the number of tables in my classroom.  For example, I have six tables in my class, so I selected six rows on the seating chart. Next, I dragged and dropped students into their correct table (or “row”).  

Now, my seating charts show up as a list of which students are sitting at which table.  It makes finding who is not sitting in their correct seat (did I mention I’m a middle school teacher???) super quick.  And it also makes it easy for me to input data and information for a table group. I can either go to my groupings list, where I keep groups by table, or I can simply go down the row in my seating chart and input whatever I need to track.  

Saves time and helps me keep a little sanity in my school day!  

Tracking Your Own Teaching Using ClassMax

The primary functions of ClassMax allow teachers to track multiple types of information about student data.  But in the two years that I have been using ClassMax in my own classroom, I have learned how to use ClassMax to track my own standards-based instruction to assure that I am covering all my standards effectively.  This is especially important at this point in the school year, as we begin looking towards standardized testing. I want to be sure that I have taught each specifically tested standard enough and that I haven’t overlooked any standards during the course of my school year.  

To do this, head over to the Reporting section of ClassMax. From here, I run a report for all my classes by choosing “Multiple Periods,” and then selecting all my class periods. I set the window of my report either to the entire previous quarter or for the entire school year.  I tend to prefer the school year because I teach language arts and my standards often repeat throughout the quarter. If your standards are more sequential (for example, in a math class), you may choose to only select a specific period of time.

From here, I start to see the progress of my instruction based on my student data.  The first thing I look for is that I have taught all the tested standards. I double check to make sure that every standard I was supposed to have covered is listed in my report.  If it is not listed, that means that I never collected data on that particular standard, which indicates I may not have taught it or maybe didn’t teach it enough. I add those standards to my reteaching list.  

The next thing I do in my report is to begin drilling down by standard.  If I notice a standard has a lot of gray on the scale, I add this to my reteaching list.  Clearly, I didn’t teach it enough to collect a decent amount of data and so I will probably need to reteach that standard a bit more before testing.  

Finally, I start clicking on individual standards to see the number of times I have assessed on it.  When you click the standard and bar graph, it will drop down to show you which students are performing where.  The number at the top of each student list is the number of times this standard was assessed. If the number is low across all learning levels on a particular standard, I know that I may not have assessed it enough, which also probably indicates that I didn’t teach it enough.  These standards get added to my reteaching list, too.

While ClassMax is an excellent tool for collecting student data, that student data can tell you a lot about your own teaching.  By analyzing HOW I collect my data, I can better examine how well I taught standards throughout my school year. This helps me begin to focus my reteaching as we prepare for testing.  

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! 

          

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