Data Detectives!

How do you dive into teaching data and graphing? Collecting, analyzing and expressing data is an important skill, but at times it can feel contrived and boring. My teammates and I discussed how we could hook students into getting excited about data while keeping this learning goal in mind, "We can collect and organize data to answer questions and solve problems." While brainstorming during our planning session we came up with the following lesson. Here's how mine went...

First off, I followed my teammate's idea of making a very simple poster with our class picture (what kid doesn't like to see him/herself in a photo?!?) in the middle and notecards labeled with number-related facts (data) about our class. For example, "13" represents the number of girls in our class.

I taped the notecards so that the number was on the front and the information was on the back. This took all of 5 minutes because I had a nice 8x10 class picture on hand. Some of the other examples of how I used numbers as data included how many students were at our school last year, and how many students are from India.

Once displayed on my easel, I used the Visible Thinking routine, "See, Think, Wonder" and asked the class to turn and talk, "What do you see? What do you think about it? What does it make you wonder?" Students immediately began to share their wonderings about the numbers. Early on one child shared that the numbers told us something about the class- BINGO!

Then I asked, "How can numbers help us understand information about our class?" Students began to make predictions about what the numbers meant- I wrote down their ideas on post-it notes and added them to the poster.  With each prediction, I asked the student to explain. The others were quick to recognize if a prediction was unreasonable and those were not added. They got really into it because it had become a kind of game, something they had to figure out!
Sorry it's a little blurry, but I think you get the idea :)

This went on for about 15-20 minutes before one child said, "I think there's something on the back of the notecards." I smiled to confirm. Then they were even more curious! They were dying to find out what those numbers really meant!
"Do you want me to flip over the cards?"
"YEEESSSS!" they replied,
and like any good teacher I said,

I plan to follow this lesson up by checking their predictions with what the number on the card actually means. (Yes, I will show them what's on the back!) The next step will be to ask the students, "What other information could we collect about our class? What do you want to know?" Based on their curiosities, students could then plan to gather the data that would answer their questions. Stay tuned for the next post!

How do you introduce data and graphing with your class?

Signature photo ScreenShot2013-04-26at54143PM.png

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