Lisa Fisher

Showcasing Success with Data Walls

Discussion created by Lisa Fisher on Mar 9, 2017

Whether it’s an Accelerated Reader bulletin board or a multiplication fluency chart, you’re likely familiar with the idea of a data wall. Usually, these visually-compelling bulletin boards allow students to see their progress towards a goal and formalize the class’ focus. With MAP scores lending insight into students’ progress on Language and Math skills, teachers and school leaders can easily capture MAP goals and growth in a visual way.


What if we’d like to bring a version of the data wall into the classroom? While there are plenty of examples of themed data walls online, here are some things to keep in mind when designing your own.


Understand your goal behind externalizing your data.


Having a clear rationale for displaying the data will guide all other decisions around your design! Are you aiming to share the wall with parents? Do you wish to motivate your students? Do you want to collaborate with colleagues on strategies? Identify trends? Elevate accountability? Highlight growth goals? It’s important to articulate a goal upfront so it’s clear to students that the intent is not individual competition, but rather growth as a whole.


Consider groups rather than individual units for display.


Show groups’ progress rather than individual progress by using different colored/sized circles or a pie chart. This allows students to visualize that they are not alone in their academic journey. This can also be used to teach students about different graphs for different purposes or introduce the idea of percentages. In an older class, students can be tapped for their input on what graphical representation is most in-line with your display goals.


Be mindful of your language/color-coding when titling the stages.


Be sure to keep the language/color-coding as positive and growth-minded as possible. Rather than red, orange, yellow, green, consider different shades of green. Rather that “not proficient, approaching proficient, proficient, above proficient,” consider “I’m Still Working, I’m Getting There, Gathering Speed, and On My Way.” You can make this playful or have students weigh in on the metaphor. A camping extension might become “Gearing up at REI, Basecamp, Mid-Mountain, Summit!”


Keep the data wall a living document.


Don’t just forget about the data wall! Use it to brainstorm more reading strategies we as a class can engage in together; use it as an instructional tool to teach visual data skills; and celebrate growth as the next results come in!


The idea behind a data wall is to give everyone equal footing towards achieving growth. The visualization of data should be anonymous, positive, and clear. With a teacher at the helm emphasizing the journey as a holistic one rather than an individual endeavor, the bulletin board can become a celebration-centric place in the classroom.


Want more resources? Check out Oakland Unified School District’s page on resources for data walls, and let us know how you’re incorporating them into the classroom!