Statistics and the connected classroom

Every primary classroom studies statistics several times a year and when it comes to graphs you go through the process:  surveys, tally charts, pictograms, bar graphs,

This Pie Chart was a truly enjoyable lesson, as the students used protractors and their knowledge of degrees to draw the graph.
This Pie Chart was a truly enjoyable lesson, as the students used protractors and their knowledge of degrees to draw the graph.

column graphs, line graphs, stem & blah, blah…

I am one of those who gets their students to make pretty graphs based on a a survey (favourite pet or book or blah..) and I have known for years that it is just going through the motions. The students learn skills (using a ruler, counting hands up in the classroom and colouring in a chart), but do they make any understandings? Maybe you integrate ICT and have a play with Excel, but do they make any connection to the real world or see statistics outside their classroom?


NOTE: Every class I have ever taught has loved making graphs – ruling them, colouring them and presenting them with a couple of comments on what they think the graph is telling them – and I love the lesson as well.  I am just being a bit of a devils advocate with the previous paragraphs, not slandering every amazing teacher who gets their class to make a graph.


So, how do we take a classes questions and ask them to the world? How to we make a survey or questionnaire that has a sample size more than the number of students in your class? The answer is a Google form with some assistance from Twitter, Facebook, Email and a few forceful requests for friends to share the form and off you go.

We created the form from a whole lot of ‘random questions’ (this is how they have been described by many of those who have answered the form) and when the students went to get on the bus at the end of the day I began the sharing process. It did take begging in some cases, but only a few times and by the morning we had almost 200 responses and by our Numeracy lesson we had 250 responses.

The first 30-40 minutes of the Numeracy lesson began an animated discussion full of predictions on what we thought each questions results would be and then pondering why we were so wrong on almost every question. Additionally, as we reviewed the results 10 more people somewhere in the world answered the survey.


They said things like…

Why are the amount of Arabic speakers the same as the amount of Maori Speakers?
-I think Facebook might be banned in a lot of Arabic speaking countries.
-There are Maori speakers because Mr Dyer is from New Zealand.
-I just think that not many people who speak Arabic have seen the survey…
…and maybe if they did the could not read it because it was in English?

Why do over 60% the people answering our survey wear glasses or contacts when less than 10% of our class do?

Why are most of the people who answered Women? Is it because they use more social media or because they take more time to help people?

Why do only a few people like Orange… it’s my favourite colour?

66% of people take a car to work or school – that is two out of three people… That is bad for the environment.

Wow, a lot of people believe in Aliens!


Unknown
Yellow indicates the spread of our survey within the first 24 hours. I wonder how much yellow there will be after a week?

We then looked at different types of questions and discussed how we normally write closed questions, but by giving an open question like “What is your favourite food?” we get to see how truly different everyones choices are, but when we asked closed questions with a yes or no answer or only a few options it does not always give the person taking the survey the option of answering as they would like.

At the end of the first 24 hours my tech savvy and like minded teaching assistant took the data and turned it into a visual world map. Places in yellow are where we have reached already.

So now, after 3 days of the form being online we have reached just over 500 participants and we see the statistics beginning to even out to what we originally predicted. Hopefully over the weekend we will get more participants and as it spreads we may reach across to more parts of Africa or South America. So, next time you are studying statistics and want your class to get a better understanding of analyzing data give a Google Form a try and use all those social media contacts you have to see how far  you can spread your questions.

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Student Created Tutorials in Numeracy

Holiday is over and back in class and this is my first post of the school year. I think it is a nice cross of Numeracy and ICT skills.

Each group has been working on mastering a different strategy in Maths and then developing the ability to explain what they are doing verbally. What is an easy way for the teacher to assess and for the students to show mastery… in pairs create a Kahn Academy style tutorial.

One student records the other working through a problem (this reduces the camera shakiness) then they swap over so each has a problem recorded. Import the clip to iMovie, turn off the videos sound to remove the white noise from the classroom then find a quiet space and record a voice over and publish the movie. The first time that I did it they recorded audio as they worked through the problem, but this distracted them from the equation and made them a bit nervous, but by separating the explanation and the problem it allowed students to focus on the task.

The video below if from a student who is not too confident in Maths, and did record the voice over three times, but by the finished product he was able to clearly explain what he was doing, why he was doing it and had a huge smile on his face – success!

My only wish now is that I was not in China and my students had access to a blog to publish their work on.