Quick Tip Tuesday: Data collection tips and ideas

October 4th, 2011

We wrap up our four weeks of math quick tips with Jessica Shumway today with tips and ideas for data collection routines in the classroom. You can still preview Jessica’s book Number Sense Routines on the Stenhouse website. Read Chapter 6 for more ideas on collecting data over a long period of time with your students.

Data Routine Tips, Ideas, and Questions
Assigning Data Collection Jobs
It is important to allow students some element of choice for their data collection jobs. However, for management purposes, in the beginning of the year I choose their jobs for them based on skill level and needs (they indicate first, second, and third choices, and I take their requests into account). This allows for differentiated instruction through pairings. Students who are comfortable reading the thermometer, sunrise/sunset data, and moon phases data and recording that information hold these jobs in the beginning of the year in order to get the routines going. During this time, the student I assign to be Data Assistant is often not as comfortable with these skills, but the job of Data Assistant gives him or her time to observe and learn how to do the other jobs and pushes his or her learning to an independent zone.

During the second quarter of the school year, I often flip-flop the roles. I often assign the role of Data Assistant to someone who is strong in collecting and recording the data, and that person can assist the others in learning their jobs. This pushes the thinking of all the students involved. This pairing challenges those who are not yet proficient with collecting and recording data and it challenges the Data Assistant to explain his or her thinking; the Data Assistant is not allowed to do the other jobs for his or her classmates; he or she must use words to describe what to do.

Questions for Differentiation
• What do you notice about the data? (Use an open-ended question like this to spark discussion and give you a sense of where students are in their thinking.)
• Why do you think that? (Use a question like this in response to statements such as “It’s getting colder”; you are asking
students to talk about the data and cite evidence; you are asking them to “prove it.”)
• What was the temperature on October 10th?
• What days during this month were the warmest? The coldest? The most mild?
• What was the lowest temperature this month? The highest temperature?
• What has been the range of temperatures this month? (Emphasize the strategies for figuring it out by asking How do you know?)
• What days so far this year have been warmer than today?
• How many days so far this year have been warmer than today? (Again, emphasize the strategies for figuring this out by asking, How do you know? Some students might count one by one, some might group and skip-count, some might use the number of days in school and subtract, and so on.)
• What do you think the graph will look like next month?

Summarizing the Data Each Month with Mode, Average, and Range
• What is the most common temperature this month? (Mode)
• What is the mean temperature for March? (This arithmetic average/mean question would be appropriate for some third-grade students and many fourth-grade students.)
• What was the range of temperatures this month? (This question asks about the difference between the highest and lowest temperatures.)

Entry Filed under: math,Quick Tip Tuesday

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