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A Course that Keeps Teaching

HarvardX’s Data Wise gives teachers a new focus for grading, improves student outcomes.

This article originally appeared in the Harvard Gazette.

Data Wise, a new HarvardX course, is transforming classroom dynamics and building “collaborative inquiry” between teachers — both in and beyond the Boston Public Schools (BPS).

With more than 14,000 already enrolled in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), it was a group from Boston who gathered at the Harvard Ed Portal this past winter and found that they could put what they learned to immediate use.

“The Data Wise protocol allows us to focus in on a line of inquiry,” said Himilcon Inciarte, a fourth-grade teacher at the Umana Academy in Boston, one of 34 educators who participated in the January course. “The most immediate outcome for our students is that the teachers now have a very clear focus in their work, and also how we’re grading the work.”

That focus, Inciarte said, “helps us target what we’re looking for in our students’ work, and therefore any feedback we provide them is geared toward that specific aspect. The big takeaway for me was that we had to find time as a team to look at student work, and to decide next steps about instruction together.”

Moving forward, many school teams say they will use what they learned from the course and continue to meet on a regular basis to look at data through a different lens — how teachers can change teaching practice to improve student outcomes.

For Kathryn Boudett, director of the Data Wise Project and lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), the course is a way to support teachers locally and worldwide. The free, self-paced online course, available for anyone to take at any time, is part of a portfolio of Data Wise course offerings that lead to a Data Wise Coach Certification. Three BPS data inquiry facilitators have already earned this credential, and three more will complete their coach training this summer.


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