Monthly Archives: June 2016

What do you look for when data mining in Maths?

As teachers, we all keep vast amounts of data, reading data, writing data, math data, behavioural and social data, data on conversation skills, a vast variety of formative assessment.  But what do we most often do with this data?  We store them in excel spreadsheets or we set individual targets for our students.  In our school we use google sheets so that they can be shared and access by others, such as admin and student support services, so that anyone can track individual students.

However, I find it difficult to connect with data when they are kept purely as an excel spreadsheet. I have begun to see real value in actually pulling my data outside of the excel spreadsheet in order to see the bigger picture, spot patterns and reflect on how my teaching practice needs to change to enhance the learning of all my students.


Let me share an example:

In our school we do GLoSS interviews, these assessments show which mathematical strategies your students are using and they give teachers a clear set of strategy expectations for each grade level (these assessments come from New Zealand).

We assess our students on entry to Grade 2 and on exit of Grade 2.  During the course of the year, the  level of strategy expectations increase from level 4 to level 5.

To really analyse our data, my colleague and I decided we needed to take the data out of excel and work on paper.


  • We created Venn diagrams to compare the three different skill sets: addition and subtraction, proportion and ratio, multiplication and division.
  • We created two Venn diagrams, one for students below grade level expectation (blue paper) and one for students exceeding grade level expectation (yellow paper).
  • We repeated this process twice, once in September on entry to Grade 2 and now again in May, on exit of Grade 2.



This visual really allowed us to see big patterns in the data across the whole grade level. By colour coding each class, we could easily spot patterns and strengths within each other’s classes as well as across the grade level.

By presenting the data in this way, the most resounding observations are:

  • On entry, we had 22 students exceeding expectation in any area. Now upon exit, we have 73.  That is a huge increase.
  • The number of students exceeding in all 3 areas has grown from 13 to 21 students.
  • Our strongest area of teaching is Addition and Subtraction, this section has grown from 4 students exceeding grade level expectation at entry to 26 students on exit.
  • Overall on entry, we had 35 students of concern in any area. Now upon exit, we only have 27.  The majority of these students of concern are below grade level expectation in proportion and ratio.
  • Another indicator that our weakest area of teaching in G1 and in G2 is proportion and ratio is that we didn’t have any students exceeding solely in proportion/ratio on entry to Gr. 2 and on exit, we still don’t have any.


Firstly, we  need to consider how we can improve our Math unit on fractions, percentages and decimals (proportion and ratio).  Next year, we will need to track  all the students’ progress through this unit more closely next year. This unit is a 6 week long unit in November / December and as a team, we are considering how to revisit this unit during the year to keep these skills retained, so that students don’t forget their skills, strategies and knowledge?

Secondly, we need to follow up with our Student Support Services team to ensure that students who are under or above grade level will be flagged and tracked in G3 to ensure that they are given the appropriate support and extension.