19 November 2016

A Wall to Invite Others In

If you follow my other blog, then you know that I have set a challenge this year to tell 10 new data stories in 10 months. My goal is to only use data that we don't typically share. That doesn't mean that it's private, just overlooked. All the data I'm using would be considered public, but no one requests things like Outlook calendars for meeting spaces or the number of emails sent in a day.

I've seen a lot of data walls over the years. I've heard of the spaces they occupy referred to as "war rooms." These data are, without fail, just about assessment scores. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking at student performance, but I often remind people in my district that children are more than the sum of their test scores.

What would happen if we built a (data) wall that invited conversation, rather than screamed at an audience?

One school in our district has decided to join me on my data story journey this year. They are sharing data about library book checkouts by grade for each with of the semester.

It's ginormous...maybe 4 x 8 feet. A lot of work has been put into getting everything labeled. The numbers at the top of each stacked bar are written on little books!

Every colour represents a grade level and every bar is a week. Fourth grade has been rockin' it this year, it appears.

There is a lot of joy this year at this school. They are so proud of their data wall (as they should be). I've heard about several teachers bringing their classes to look at it and all the good discussions that ensued. Parents are asking about and engaging with the data. These are data that generate conversation in a positive way.

Walls aren't always about who we want to keep out. Once in awhile, they're all about who we want to bring in.

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