In my classroom, all of my students have a language based disability. They are not flexible thinkers by nature. Language often trips my students up. It is imperative that I have a system in place to teach my students to answer questions in multiple ways. Enter....color coding data!
In order to be a flexible thinker you need to be able to answer questions phrased differently and know that items can still be the same thing even if they look a little different. For example, a blue pen with a cap and a black "click" pen are both pens even though they are not exactly the same. In order to help my students to be flexible thinkers, I directly target multiple pictures of an item. For example, chairs all look different. If I were targeting "chair" as a label, I start with 3 different pictures of chairs. I separate my pictures into 3 piles:
In this picture, my student is learning to label 5 different items. For each item, I have 3 different pictures. While you can't see it in the picture, I have each card labeled with which pile it is in, black, red or green to make it easy to put back any pictures that get misplaced. I rubber band the piles together and put them in the student's work box. I do one stack each day and record the data in the corresponding color ink.
When I look at the data now, I can clearly see trends. In the picture above, the student is having trouble identifying arm on red days (see yellow arrow.) Every red day the student gets the answer wrong, but he gets it correct every other day. Knowing this, I can quickly pull out the arm card for red days to figure out what he is having trouble with. If the data wasn't color coded, I might waste precious time trying to figure out why the student isn't consistent or find patterns that might not be true.
Here are the different cards for practicing labeling arm:
Knowing that my student is having trouble with the question, "What is this?" I will work more on answering that question.
Color coding is also a great way to ensure that staff are changing up the way they say something or ask a question. This is very important with students that have language based disabilities. Many times, this is what trips students up. Here are 3 different ways we practice answering name questions. Its not enough just to know your name, you also have to be able to state it whenever it is needed.
Try to think of all the different ways people ask for your information and then make sure your students can answer all of them. Again, we would record the data using the corresponding ink to allow us to quickly see if a particular question or statement is challenging.
Here are some other examples of different ways we practice skills:
Color coding can be used with most data systems. Here is an example of how we record requesting data. For this data, staff had 2 clickers. One clicker was for tracking how many times the student spontaneously made a request and the other clicker was for requests that were prompted by staff. To make the graph easier to read, we color coded the data. The green is unprompted requests and the red is prompted requests. I can quickly see that the spontaneous requests are becoming more frequent and that the student needs less prompting to make needed requests.
Color coding data really helps save us time while allowing staff to quickly see which skills need to be practiced more. Do you use color coding in your classroom? Comment with the system that works for you so we can all learn!