Tuesday Tips: The Plus-Delta Chart

This is another tool that I learned about in our Baldridge Continuous Improvement professional development session this year.  After I implemented the consensogram and felt pretty successful with it, I decided to implement the plus-delta chart.

The principle  behind this tool is simple: the members of the group seeking to improve use this tool to evaluate their performance.  There are two columns: a column on the left labeled with  plus sign and a column on the right labeled with the delta sign (the triangle you see in the picture).  The delta sign is used in math and science to indicate (oversimplifying here) rate of change.

In the left hand column, under the plus sign, the group records what they are doing well.  In the right hand column, the group records what they believe they need to change.

About halfway through the year, I asked my students to evaluate their classroom discussions.  We had already completed individual evaluations, so this exercise was an evaluation of how the entire class was doing.  As they talked, I recorded their ideas on chart paper.

Here are the individual class charts:

Period 2

Period 2 Chart

Period 5

Period 5 Chart

Period 6

Period 6 Chart

Period 8

Period 8 Chart

After we had this discussion in each class, I compiled the charts into one wall display.  Just as a side note, this is about as far as my bulletin-board making skills go. And, in all honesty, my student aide actually hung this up.

The Display

Charts All

The Impact

Immediately after we talked through the plus-delta charts, our classroom discussions improved.  The very next discussion in almost every class was the best discussion we had ever had.  I believe that the very act of having a purposeful conversation about our classroom practice made everyone aware, and that awareness brought a certain level of accountability.

The discussions did eventually settle back into some of the same problems we were having before we created the charts, so I believe that in the future I need to schedule these evaluation sessions more than just once per year. It’s fairly time consuming, so I may have to limit it to once per quarter.  However, there were some problems that we listed that really never did come back in each class period, so I know that even the one time I did this exercise made a difference.

What tools have you used to help students evaluate their own performance?

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