Category Archives: Groupings Feature

How to Make Groups from Reports with ClassMax

We are continually updating ClassMax based on feedback from our awesome users, but this last update really made me wish I had this feature last year when I was still in the classroom!  Users told us that creating groups was simple with ClassMax, but that it would be so much faster if they could have auto-generated groups from the reporting page.  You asked and we delivered, teacher friends!

To generate automatic groupings based on learning levels, you first need to go into the reporting menu on the left sidebar of the main teacher dashboard.

From here, select your date range for reporting on standards-based progress and then drop down the standard that you want to report on.  You should notice that when you hover over a learning level now, you are given the option to create a group.  Select this and simply name the group straight from the reporting menu.

When you move over to view your groups now, you should see the group that you created from the reports menu.

Another new feature with our reports and groups is that you can now run reports by groups of students.  This is helpful if you are tracking progress of a specific group of students.  For example, let’s say I needed to report on how my ESE students are doing on specific standards.  I would simply go to the reports menu, select my date range and my ESE group.  From here, I can run the report just on these students alone.  This makes it easy to desegregate your data during data chats with administration.

Suggested groups might include by ethnicity, gender, economic background, language learners, or targeted students defined by your school or district.

For more information on how to use our standard grouping function, check out this blog post.

Change Out Your Assessments for Something More Engaging

There is no question that assessments hold a valid and required place in the classroom.  Without the ability to assess a student’s progress, teachers aren’t able to adjust instruction to meet learning needs, correct errors in reasoning, or truly know when mastery is taking place.  But for many teachers, the weekly quiz grades are being replaced instead with standards progress monitoring in more unique and creative formats.  This week, why not trade out those traditional assessments for something different?  Here are a few of our favorite alternative assessments and ways ClassMax can help you collect the data.

Individualized Station Rotations – While station rotations are nothing new in the world of learning, allowing students to rotate at their own pace through a specific set of prescribed stations just for them can seem like a logistical nightmare for teachers.  In my own classroom, I collected most of my ClassMax data during station rotations.  Students were not permitted to move stations until I came over and assessed their work using the progress monitoring component of ClassMax.  This also meant I had reduced grading because I was assessing them on the spot with the ClassMax progress monitor instead of grading a pile of work later.  When it came time to put a grade in, I ran the report by standard and date and used that data from ClassMax as my grade.  It also helped students work towards mastery because I wouldn’t let them move on until they showed mastery at either a 3 or 4 on my ClassMax scale.

 

PBL (Project Based Learning) – In the past few years, PBL has become a popular and innovative way of assessing student mastery on specific skill as they apply to real world examples.  If you haven’t dabbled in PBL, it can seem a bit overwhelming.  The word “project” can often insight fear and loathing in a teacher…  But, fear not!  At their core, PBL assignments are nothing more than a series of assessments that all lead towards solving a problem.  A great place to start for PBL tasks is TeachersPayTeachers.  A quick search for your subject, grade level, and even specific standards will return already compiled units that make for great ongoing learning and assessing throughout the year.  For braver teachers, try DefinedStem for PBL tasks and documents, including rubrics and exemplars.  Use ClassMax on your PBL days to collect data on standards-based progress as they work on their projects in team.  If they are working in project groups, create a group in ClassMax and track progress for several students at one time.

One-on-One Conferencing –  One of the most effective ways to accurately assess student learning is through one-on-one conversation and interaction with a student about a specific standards, skill, or task.  You might have an advanced or gifted student who can not only show demonstration of mastery of a skill, but can explain their thought process orally.  Or, perhaps a student can show mastery, but struggles to explain.  Or, they might even be able to explain theoretically, but have trouble demonstrating.  Before beginning your conversations with students, set your scale of understanding with your PLC so that you are sure to be assessing students equally, across the grade level.  Have a list of questions that you ask all students and assess on the ClassMax four-point scale based on their proficiency.  Use the notes out to the side of the progress entry to write down things about their responses that you want to remember later.

Role-Playing or Dramatic Interpretation – (Personally, I have to give myself a minute to take a deep breath and get over my middle school fears of role playing in front of a classroom of kids… Okay, I think I’m better now…)  Putting aside my own childhood fears of public performance, role-playing or dramatic interpretation is another great tool for assessing student learning.  Keep in mind that not all of your students will be excited about acting out scenes or ideas in front of their peers, so it might be helpful to have an alternative assignment or assessment for those who don’t wish to participate.  But for those students who have a flair for the dramatic, role-playing can be an innovative, active way to have students express their understanding.  One of the most engaging lessons I have ever seen was a middle school math teacher who used role play for geometry formulas.  Students had to use groups and role play to explain a specific formula using metaphors or similes.  Talk about engaging and complex learning!  When teachers think outside the box, so do students!  Use your ClassMax progress-monitoring to assess students as they perform.  Be sure to give them a rubric ahead of time so they know what will constitute a 4, 3, 2, or 1 and how these will correlate to a grade.  Try uploading our custom standards on group work or projects to assess students on these skills.

Assessing students is necessary in a classroom, but that doesn’t mean it has to necessarily be pencils, paper, and bubble sheets.  Stretch the limits of assessing in your classroom and watch your students stretch the limits of their learning!

 

 

3 Ways to Prepare Your Classroom for Success in the 2nd Quarter

While the rest of the world celebrates the arrival of fall with flannel, scarves, and pumpkin-spiced everything, teachers know that the arrival of fall actually signifies a much bigger ending in their classrooms than just summer.  October typically wraps up the first quarter in classroom cadences and with that comes a variety of processes and tasks that only a classroom teacher truly understands.  Bulletin boards are changed with the weather, units of study are often brought to a close, and the dreaded report card hustle begins. There are parent phone calls wondering why their kid is failing even though they have done zero work all quarter and this is the first time you’ve had the parent respond to any type of contact.  We are sending failure reports to admin and student concerns to guidance.  We are re-arranging seating charts based on behavior and maybe even requesting scheduling changes for those students who just need a “fresh start” in a different classroom (bye Felicia…).

With all that chaos, don’t lose sight of these three really important ways that classrooms should be growing and shifting by the end of October:

  1. Your student performance should begin to show an upward trend.  True, Little Timmy still reads three grade levels below where he is supposed to be, but student performance should at least begin to track upwards in October, even for Little Timmy.  Take a look at the results of your first benchmark assessments (probably given in September or early October sometime), but don’t stop there.  Compare those benchmarks with your student progress, either in their grades and assessment scores or in your ClassMax data – or both, if you really want to rock your world.  Who is growing?  Who is not?  Who is (gulp) regressing?  For more information on how to use data to drive rigorous instruction in your classroom, read our article, “Teacher’s Guide: Using Data to Drive Instruction.”
  2. Regroup your students.  Most of us group our kids at the beginning of the school year based on standardized test scores from the previous school year.  In a pinch, that’s a good grouping qualification, but hopefully by the end of October, you are starting to see even a small impact from your own instruction.  Take some time at the end of the first quarter to re-evaluate your student groups.  Perhaps now that you have more data (thanks to ClassMax, wink, wink…), you should be able to group in multiple ways – by performance on standards, by overall grades, by learning types, etc.  Take a look at your data and begin forming meaningful groups for your second quarter of instruction.
  3. Send home behavior reports.  While report cards are a fine mode of parent contact, if you’ve been collecting behavior data on your students, why not attach those reports to report cards as well?  And for fun, go ahead and require the behavior report be brought back in for a completion grade in the 2nd quarter.  This way, you are making meaningful parent contact and covering yourself a bit by sharing what you have seen in your classroom with parents.  (TEACHER TIP: I used to print labels that said “Parent Signature” and “Date” on them and I put those on just about anything – tests, quizzes, behavior reports, etc.  It’s an easy way to make parent contact without… you know… making parent contact…)  Are you an overachieving, going-for-gold-stars teacher?  Go ahead and print a cumulative ClassMax student report and send home EVERYTHING you’ve collected on your students.  (If your school is a PBIS school, you might be interested in our ClassMax Schools platform that tracks behavior with MaxPoints™.)

As your second quarter kicks off, save yourself some time to focus on instruction – shocking, I know – by ending the first quarter successfully.  A little upfront work can make for a much smoother quarter and a much happier teacher.

Pumpkin spiced lattes help, too.

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!

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