Saturday, November 22, 2008

Data Collection and Graphing

This week I worked some more with my students on collecting data and presenting findings in graph format. For the first couple of graphs I offered lots of support with the data collection and some guidance with drawing up the graph. For the final graph, I encouraged the students to work in small groups to carry out their own investigations. My goal with these sessions was to demonstrate that graphing is fun and can be easily done at home with minimal resources.

Here is an outline of the sessions:

Our Favourite Ice-creams

  1. As a class we chose 8 options for favourite flavoured ice-creams.
  2. I provided each student with a class list.
  3. Students asked each other what they're favourite flavour was and wrote the flavour (or code for the flavour) next to that person's name. They continued until they had interviewed everyone.
  4. I provided each student with a blank 2cm square grid.
  5. Together we wrote the title for the grid, wrote the flavours along the bottom of the grid, and wrote numbers 1-10 up the left side of the grid.
  6. Students used their data collection on the class list to colour in the columns on the grid.
  7. We discussed which flavour was most popular, least popular, and other information students could find out from the graph.

Cars in the School Carpark

  1. We formed a list of colours we expected that cars in the carpark might be (including 'other' as a possible option).
  2. We wrote this list on a piece of paper.
  3. We went into the school carpark and walked along the rows adding tally marks for each car we passed.
  4. Back in the classroom we wrote a numerical value for each set of tally marks.
  5. I provided each student with a blank 2cm square grid.
  6. Together we wrote the title for the grid, wrote the colours along the bottom of the grid, and wrote numbers 1-10 up the left side of the grid.
  7. Students used their data collection to colour in the columns on the grid.
  8. We discussed which car colour was most common, least common, and other information students could find out from the graph.

Group Investigations

  1. We discussed possible things that students might like to investigate.
  2. In teams, students decided what they would investigate and considered possible options for people to choose from. All investigations fell into the "favourites" category.
  3. Students went around and collected data by questioning students.
  4. Students presented findings on 2cm grid paper with title, numbers and options.
  5. I discussed the information with the students in their groups.

For further improvement, I would probably ask the groups to present their findings to the class. I forgot to copy off the class lists for the group investigations, which made the data collection a bit messier for my students. I was feeling stressed by the end of it, and the kids were sick of working with their groups. Perhaps tighter structure would have made this more successful, or perhaps it would have worked better if they were in pairs instead of fours.

It would also be fun to carry out an investigation over a number of different groups of children in different schools. Definitely something to keep in mind for next time, once I have connected with a few more schools.

Some investigations to graph at home:

  • Items in the dishwasher
  • Toys in the toybox
  • Times the television is on during the day
  • Types of books on the bookshelf
  • Sport statistics

Please feel free to leave your own suggestions of fun things to graph in the comments box.

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