Data collection and interpretation experiences are such a crucial area of math instruction. As children gather information about real life objects and experiences and work with new ways to organize and display that information., they are taking steps from the concrete to the representational. Data collection is also significant for its applications in other academic areas, like science and reading non-fiction.
Graphing has always been a part of primary grade math instruction, under titles likes "Our Pets" or
"How We Get to School". But with the growing awareness of how data collection helps children mentally organize and make sense of information, the volume and range of data collection and interpretation experiences has grown.
In our class, one consistent graphing experience was our weekly graph, which usually related to something in our science or social studies curriculum, to a book or author that we were currently reading, or to a holiday or season. Each child had a "graphing square", a little piece of paper labeled with his or her name, and would use sticky tack to attach it to the graph, which varied in format, either horizontal or vertical. There would be lots of discussion using words like more, less, equal, most, and least. Initially, I asked the questions, but after some practice, the children began to enjoy the challenge of developing their own questions.
If you're running short on graphing ideas for your class, Jessica Meacham's site is a truly amazing source for daily or weekly graphing ideas with strong cross-curricular connections. After some time, children often came up with their own ideas for data collection, some very original! It wasn't unusual to hear someone say, "Hey, why don't we make a graph?" Well...okay! Sounds good to me! :)
Here's a set of six activities for tallying, graphing, and data interpretation. True confession: I offered these here on my blog as a freebie just over a year ago. But since my little blog was brand new and had exactly 2 followers then :), I'm hopeful that this resource may be brand new to you today! Click on the cover to download it from my TeachersPayTeachers store.
What's the greatest graphing idea or lesson you've done with your class?