Thanks for stopping back for the conclusion of our book study of Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, and Bay-Williams. To read past posts, you can visit our book study archive.
Chapter 17 – Helping Children Use Data
The authors start chapter 17 by emphasizing the importance of statistical literacy in the world around us–it’s everywhere. Therefore, it’s important to help children develop an early understanding of basic statistical concepts.
Students should be involved in the full process of doing statistics, and this involves much more than creating graphs. The process begins with formulating questions.
Formulating Questions – The purpose of collecting data is to answer a question. Allowing students to generate their own questions makes the process of collecting, displaying, and interpreting data more meaningful. At times, questions naturally arise in the course of learning, and these are perfect opportunities to help students understand that the process of statistics begins with a need.
The authors give some great suggestions for questions that can be answered by collecting a piece of data from each student:
- Questions about “Me or My Classmates” – These types of questions relate to students’ favorites, the number of, and measures. These types of questions are of high interest to students because they are about themselves. Examples include favorite foods, number of family members, and foot length.
- Questions beyond Self and Classmates – These include content area questions and comparisons. Content area questions might involve answering a question that arises during science explorations–Do all liquids take the same amount of time to freeze? A comparison might involve comparing the number of at-home reading minutes the second graders read compared to the first graders.
Data Collection – Involve students in deciding how data will be collected in an organized way. Errors can be made when gathering data, so eliminating error is important. Data can be collected through a survey but can also be gathered through observations. Students can also use data that has already been collected such as that found in almanacs and newspapers. I love how the authors suggest using children’s literature to collect data–for example, tallying the number of words in a repeating verse. I can see this being done when exploring poetry as well. Data can also be found on the Internet to answer a wide array of student questions that arise.
Data Analysis – Organizing data collected in an organized way is where data analysis begins. The students are able to determine how the data collected answers their question. The following are aspects of data analysis:
- Classification – Students must make decisions about how to categorize information gathered. Classification is especially important for PreK-K children, and the authors suggest the use of activities that require students to classify attribute materials such as attribute cards and blocks. Content area classification can also be done when sorting activities are tied to a particular exploration. Many examples are given.
- Graphic Representations – Visual images are created to show the data. The authors remind us that how the data is organized must tied specifically to the question. The authors share some wonderful activities for creating various types of graphs.
Interpreting Results – The authors suggest beginning the step of interpretation by asking general questions about what the graph shows. They also suggest comparing and contrasting two graphs of the same type. I especially like how the authors encourage us to move beyond asking mathematical questions (such as how many) toward asking statistical questions as well. They give a list of suggested questions. A couple of my favorites include, If we asked another class the same questions, how would that data look? and What does the graph not tell us? I asked more statistical questions when teaching fifth grade, so this serves as an excellent remind of how young students should be asked, and are able to answer, the same types of questions.
Well, our book study has come to an end. 🙁 What a wonderful experience it has been! We hope that those that have the text feel they have been affirmed and inspired. If you just arrived today, or have been following along without the text, we cannot recommend the this text enough. If I could recommend ONLY ONE text to a PreK-2 teacher, it would be this one!
With that said, it’s time for another giveaway! Yep–we are giving away a copy of Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics PreK-2 by Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, and Bay-Williams! There are many ways to enter, so check out the giveaway below! Good luck!
We thank you for taking the time to join us each week, and we wish you the best as you begin another school year!