LearnBop Community Blog

Using Data to Focus Your Teaching and Impact Student Learning

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Jan 21, 2014 9:12:00 AM

One of the greatest challenges I faced as a teacher was meeting the individual learning needs of the 130 - 150 students that I taught daily in the limited time that was available to work with them. I felt that I provided rich instructional lessons and activities for the entire class. But I didn’t always feel as confident that I was addressing their individual learning needs to the extent they needed to be addressed – and it wasn’t due to lack of trying.

This feeling that my students’ individual learning needs weren’t being fully addressed can be attributed to several factors. First, there was a vast range in the skill levels and abilities of my students.  In each class there were always three types of students: there were the overachievers, there were the average group, and then there were those who often struggled.  But no matter their level, all students struggle at one time or another.

Secondly, being able to identify specific student learning gaps was always a challenge.  It wasn’t difficult to look at student work and know that they were not getting it.  But it was challenging in both time and process to drill down and pinpoint the specific concepts they didn’t know.

The next challenge in addressing individual learning needs was in being able to dedicate the time to identify and locate the additional resources and strategies that I would need to work with students who had learning gaps. Given that there could be multiple students with learning gaps at any given time, I needed multiple resources and strategies, and these were not always easy to find and then implement.

And finally there was the issue of keeping the rest of the class engaged in meaningful learning activities while I provided one-on-one instruction with struggling students. So developing and managing a routine that ensured that all students’ learning needs were being met as they learned the math they needed to know would on occasion leave me feeling perplexed and exhausted.   

But it doesn’t have to be that way today. With all the research about learning and advancements in technology, many resources, materials, and products have been developed to support learning and aid teachers in managing their day-to-day classroom routines.  And we’ve developed our program with all of these in mind to provide the optimal learning experience for each student every day. 

Let's take a look at one of our Bops (problems) aligned to Common Core State Standard 6.RP.A.3b:  Students will be able to solve unit rate problems including those involving unit pricing and constant speed. You can access this Bop at https://www.learnbop.net/S/6.RP.A.3b.


Figure 1


Figure 2

As noted in Figure 1, you have three options in that you can try the Bop, share the Bop, or use the Bop with your students (see http://web.learnbop.net/blog/incorporating-learnbop-with-whole-class-instruction for suggestions about how to use the Bop with your students).  You’ll find that we’ve made it a priority to include standards-specific language, graphics, processes, and procedures in our program.  These features not only help guide students through the step-by-step process of solving the problem but also aid you in identifying the prerequisite math concepts and skills that students don’t know or understand.

We’ve also included the data to-date that our system has collected from all of our student users that have completed this problem as shown in Figure 2.  Per the to-date data, you can see that less than half of students are able to answer this problem correctly on the first try.   But more importantly, you will also see a report of the prerequisite concepts that students are struggling with that are prohibitive in solving this problem. 

Additionally, you can view the full report which provides you with detailed information about each step in the problem in terms of the number of attempts and both correct and incorrect responses. In Figure 3, you can see a report of step 1 in the problem.  It’s also important to note here that the individual student report which contain step-by-step data, including correct and incorrect responses, is provided for each student enrolled in your class(es).  As a math teacher you know that incorrect responses can be very telling in helping to identify student misunderstandings, so this information is useful in that regard.

Public_Bop_3Figure 3


This easily acquired data arms you with a wealth of information for guiding and informing instruction.  Boy, could I have used this type of information as I was struggling to identify student learning gaps!

I could have looked at the report and known quickly that my class as a whole was NOT getting Solving Unit Rate problems (only 45% were getting it right on the first try). But I also would have been spared the time spent in determining which prerequisite concepts I needed to focus on as that information is provided for me. I could have then planned additional instruction targeting unit rates (55% of students answered incorrectly), ratio language (51% of students answered incorrectly), and tables (41% of students answered incorrectly) that were identified as prerequisite skills students were struggling with.

There are nine additional problems within the program that are aligned to this standard that you as a teacher can assign. If you have a class of students enrolled in our program then a full report of each and every step along with a report of prerequisite concepts that individual students are struggling with is provided for each and every student.  This alone can save so much time in trying to pinpoint specific student learning gaps. 

Through our partnerships with Learn Zillion and Illustrative Mathematics as well as additional LearnBop tutorials aligned to prerequisite concepts, the data reports provide suggested intervention resources based upon individual student performance.  At your discretion, the readily available interventions can be assigned to the whole class, small groups, or individual students that are identified as needing interventions.  

You can save valuable time and energy by using our program to assess student understanding and have immediate access to ready-to-use suggested intervention resources based upon the real time class and individual performance data reports provided.  But more importantly, our program and data system can help you provide a manageable and optimal learning experience for all students which affords you time to maximize instructional opportunities.    

Please join me on Tuesday, January 28 from 2:00 – 3:00 ET for a Twitter Chat where we'll be talking more about how to help students struggling with Unit Rate problems, and CCSS 6.RP.A.3b. We'll be using the hashtag #LBdatachat.  I also invite you to provide your comments in the comment section below about why you think students struggle with this concept, what prerequisite skills prove to be most challenging,  and/or activities, resources, and tools you’ve found beneficial in teaching the prerequisites or concept.

In the future, we'll be sharing more about how to use data to identify and address the specific concepts students struggle with. Stay informed and find additional resources about using data to inform instruction on Facebook, Twitter @LearnBop, and our blog www.learnbop.net/blog.

To sign up your school a free 60 day trial or yourself a free 30 day trial which includes access to all of our grades 5  - 9 Bops complete with individual students reports to inform and guide your instruction visit www.learnbop.net.


Topics: Teachers Using LearnBop, Implementing the Common Core, Resources, Teaching & Learning, Algebra & Algebra Readiness

backbone_and_learnbopThousands of K-12 students use our automated tutoring system to improve math proficiency.

Try LearnBop for Free


Want to learn more about how LearnBop's step-by-step system supports math learning?

Attend a Webinar

EdTech Update