Tag Archives: teaching

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.  

Using ClassMax Notes as Student Files

My students are in the middle of our writing unit.  We have been working on close reading texts, planning for our essays, and today they spent the class period sitting in silence writing.  These are rare days.  These are days when I try to limit my instruction so that the illusive “productive struggle” can take place in their own little minds while they work.  I’m around, but my involvement is limited.  I’ve taught them for weeks and now they have to show what they know.  

Fly, little birds!  

While my students worked today, I used the chance to make some notes in ClassMax for each student.  Often, I don’t have time during the course of a class period to make detailed notes on students.  Instead, I am using the behavior, accommodations, and progress boxes to record my information.  Sometimes, i add a quick note or two when I have time, but today seemed like a perfect opportunity to updated my student notes, which function as my student files.  

I went through each student in every class and made a note about how they were doing generally in class.  I recorded things I felt like they were doing well with – both academically and behaviorally – and I noted any areas of improvement.  Some of my notes said things like, “Sally continues to be a leader in her table group and I appreciate her patience and willingness to guide her table to success.”  Other students might have notes such as, “Charles has trouble transitioning between activities in class.  It often takes him two or three times as long as his peers to begin an assignment.  During this time, he is out of his seat, distracting others, or playing on his phone.”  These are general statements about the student that can be made at any time and do not have to be tied to a specific day, time, or action.

I also used the time to record behavior.  I started with positive behaviors because those are ones I hardly have time for in the course of my school day.  It is easy for me to see negative behavior and mark it in ClassMax while I am teaching.  However, I seldom remember to mark the positive behavior I see in students, simply because they aren’t catching my attention.  I also used this time to record recurring negative behavior, too.  Let’s face it.  For many students, the date of behavior doesn’t really matter.  They will “distract others” every day of the week, so it really doesn’t matter when I put my note in!

Keeping thorough notes helps make my communication with parents and administration about particular students more effective.  Anecdotal tracking through notes allows me to create a complete 360 degree profile of my students’ performance.

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! 

          

Getting Your Classroom Ready for ClassMax

I don’t know about you all, but this week I start another school year.  I’m so excited.  I’m at a new school this year, so I’ve been spending the past few weeks getting my classroom all set up in my new space.  I have been preparing my student work space, my desk, my teaching area, my small group stations – everything is in preparation mode so that I can kick this new year off right.

Which is why I have also been prepping my classroom for ClassMax this year.  Last year, I used a ClassMax prototype I was testing and while it was really helpful and better than nothing, it didn’t have nearly the features and efficiency of the polished ClassMax that we will launch on September 5.  In order to maximize my classroom success, I made a big change to how I will collect student information this year so that it makes setting up my ClassMax classes a lot easier.

For ClassMax, you can manually load your students in one at a time or you can use our csv template and upload whole classes at a time.  The template is pretty straight forward and consists of collecting the student’s name, any categories they might fall into for data analysis (free/reduced lunch, ESE, gifted, etc.), parent name, parent phone number, state test score, Lexile, and parent email.  These categories correspond with the information stored in the student profile.

(NOTE:  If you don’t have some of this information yet or don’t necessarily care to track a particular column, just leave that column blank.)

I am going to love having all this student information at my fingertips once the year starts, but inputting all that data was going to really be a drag.  I decided instead that I would have parents input their data using a Google form.  The form drops the data into a spreadsheet that I can use to copy and paste columns straight into this csv file.  If you want a copy of my Google form, here it is.  Just make a copy for yourself, customize to your class specifications, and you are good to go.


Now, keep in mind that you will need to sort your Google Sheet by class period and then upload to ClassMax.  You can only upload one class at a time.  But using this form will at least get the MAJORITY of your students in a spreadsheet that you can then manipulate however you need.

Not at a digital school?  Open a Google form on a classroom computer and have your students submit their information one at a time during the first week of school.  Or leave it open on a classroom computer during “Meet the Teacher” or “Open House” for parents to complete.

Hope that helps eliminate some of your front-loading of information before you jump into the ClassMax pool.  And mark your calendars while you’re at it!  SEPTEMBER 5 WE ARE LIVE FOR USE!  WHOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Teach on, teacher friends.

Katie Brown

8th Grade ELA Teacher and ClassMax Founder