We began our introduction of data analysis by me asking the students what they knew about "graphs". I showed them some examples in the classroom and from a newspaper and that helped them make connections to some work they had done with graphs in previous years. I model the data collection and representation process with them by asking the "survey question": How many boys and girls are in our class? The students came up and completed a tally graph (data collection and representation in one) and then we did what I called "analysis and interpretation" of the graph with students describing what the graph told them about our class. I tried to remember to use the correct mathematical terminology throughout to model this language for the students.

The next day, we investigated the the survey question: How many letters are in your first name? I collected the students' "data" on a chart by writing down their names in groups depending how many letters were in their first names. I then asked the students to take the data and create their own graphs in their math notebooks. I wanted to see what they could do and what kinds of graphs they knew about. After about 20 minutes, we came to a sharing circle on the carpet and each student shared one of their graphs. We had tally graphs, circle graphs, name charts and bar graphs. We then chose three of these that we could make as larger class graphs.

I realized I needed to name and model the different parts of a graph (title, x and y-axes, labels, etc) so we read math big book about graphs as well as the book The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy which the class really enjoyed. The last book gave us lots of opportunities for describing and discussing different graphs.

The final graph project for this introductory study (we will come back to graphing many times throughout the year in math and science) was for the students to decide on their own survey question to ask all their classmates. I got a class set of clipboards from the dollar store which the children were so excited to use! I think it made them feel very official going around with their class list of names and asking each student their questions and then recording their answers or "data". We had the typical questions like What is your favourite colour? animal? but also How many brothers and sisters do you have? and How many teeth have you lost? The girl who was doing the teeth graph was surprised how many of her classmates didn't know how many teeth they had lost! She added a "don't know" column to her graph! When they were finished their data collection, the students created a draft bar graph in their math notebooks and we reviewed all the components of a graph they should be including.

The students were then asked to create a "good copy" of their graph, knowing that they were going to be posted around the classroom. I provided them with grid paper if they wanted to use it and left them to complete this relatively independently as a performance assessment task.

We posted the graphs around the classroom and the students enjoyed walking around and reading each others' graphs. I added some terminology labels to the graphs on display just because we need to continue to work on these and now they are on display so I can refer to them as examples.

The students really enjoyed these introductory graphing experiences. I'm waiting to seize the moment the next time a graphable something or another comes up and we can pull out the clipboards again!

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