I thought I would share an on-going data handling activity that has been working quite well in my classroom. It's called Graph of The Day and was introduced to me by Christine Orkisz Lang at ECIS 2010 last November. It's premise is fairly simple however if it is done well the effect can make quite a difference - as I have discovered.
The activity is completed daily and can range from 5mins to 30mins discussion time - depending on how much you have. I start off by drawing a commonly used graph - bar, line, pie - and representing some data on it. I try to link the data authentically to my students' learning wherever possible. For example, this week I created a graph the described the favourite simple machines in Grade One as we are coming towards the end of our unit of inquiry on forces and machines.
As the students arrive each morning they know that they have to examine my graph and see what it is about. They then have to take a post-it note, write their name on it and describe something about my data or graph. Once everyone has arrived and we're beginning the day I take some time to go through some of the observations with the whole class and we discuss the elements of the graph and what it is describing. This is also an opportunity for me to ask questions for specific students, or the whole class, to take the learning further. Eventually I will hand over the reigns to the students and they will each be in charge of creating Graph of The Day on a rotational basis. I think the responsibility of creating their own work for the class to look will produce some interesting graphs.
I keep all of the graphs folded over on a bulletin board so we can use them again and again. By having the students post their notes I have ready-made formative assessment data that I can use to plan future learning engagements and I can also offer feedback directly to specific comments and students, or as a collective if there is something that the whole class requires. I can also choose how much to scaffold the graph by removing elements (to ask more of the students' interpretive skills) or adding elements (to model certain types of graphs).
So far it's been successful and is something that I can carry on throughout the year. Here's a few examples from this week: