Collecting and analyzing data, along with graphing are some of those real life skills that students can truly grasp when we bring it to life! If you ever thought teaching kids to master this skill was a hard task, you’re in the RIGHT PLACE! In this post, you are going to learn a lot of great, easy to implement ideas and strategies to help your students learn about data and graphing in a FUN and organic way.
Setting the Stage
While teaching any skill to students, I think of two things- how do I differentiate and how can I let them play to learn this? For differentiation, I always turn to the CRA Model because I want students to start off with the concept concretely- somehow allow students to touch and manipulate what we’re working with. If students are touching and manipulating things, chances are we can make it some sort of game to play. Learn about why playing in the classroom is so important HERE!
So first things first, we set the stage for students. One of the best and most ORGANIC ways to teach about data and graphing is to collect and graph REAL data about THEM! On our first day of our graphing unit, I hang a large pocket chart with three categories at the bottom to stir up some curiosity. Instant Engagement! I love using THIS unit because it includes student labels they can decorate and it covers just about any category or type of data and graphing situation you can think of. I love having students decorate their own student label to get ready for their very first VOTE for our pocket chart graph! Talk about excitement. I typically start with topics such as their favorite specials class, food, or season. Students LOVE voting, placing their student label on the pocket chart for their corresponding answer, and seeing what their friends choose.
After everyone has had the chance to vote, then we can discuss the data and the graph. This is where the real power comes in. Having conversations can help dismiss the misconceptions students have or clear up any confusing concepts. Here we can discuss challenging questions students will face while learning about data such as “Which category had the least?” Or “How many more did ____ have than ____?” This is where the concrete learning magic comes in. When physical things to touch and manipulate are provided, like their name cards, they can take and move the cards to help them answer the questions. It is a serious GAME CHANGER when students began navigating these types of questions on their own.
Our daily routine during our graphing unit is a huge part of building mastery in being able to collect and represent our data, notice things about the data, ask and answer questions about it, and eventually formulate their own questions about the data. The daily routine looks like this:
-each day students use their name card to graph their choice from the category provided
-after everyone has been represented, we discuss what we notice about our graph
-a mini lesson is provided with lots of modeling for the skill of the day, as well how to find the most, least, how many more and less
-we ask and answer questions about the graph, where students can come up and manipulate the cards to solve them
-students ask their own questions while we discuss and then students break into centers for practice
See a picture below of a graph we completed together for our daily routine.
Sorting and Organizing
This is SUCH an important skill and the great thing for us is that children already NATURALLY sort. However, when you add in extra pieces to the data, labeling, organizing and representing things on a graph, it can sometimes seem to students a challenging skill. There are a few ways I love making it concrete for students to gain a true deep understanding.
The first is by using dot markers, color coding, or stickers to help students visually AND concretely keep track of the items they have already marked, sorted, and represented on their graph. Grab THIS resource, pick up some stickers or markers, and let your kiddos enjoy! There is also a digital graphing version where students can use their fingers which still allows for the concrete piece to be there! Love this idea and want it for free? Subscribe to get this resource, along with access to an exclusive video of me teaching this and other challenging graphing skills!!
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Another fun way is by creating a simple digital graph template and allowing students to choose their own emojis to sort and organize. They LOVE it! For students who need a little more scaffolding, prep their graphs already with a set of emojis to sort and organize! Seesaw is a great tool for this that allows for easy differentiation. See ways I’ve differentiated below.
Questions and Answers
Formulating questions can be really tricky for students. This is the PERFECT time to teach or review what a question is and how we use them. Our daily routine, with our own personal data, REALLY helps students formulate their own questions about data, as well as answer them. In our mini lessons throughout the unit, I tend to focus A LOT on those tough comparison questions: how many more and less. I model A LOT how to answer those questions and ways to solve them. It truly helps students begin to be independent with this skill. When you subscribe, you’ll gain access to a video of me teaching this tough skill!
So What About the Games?
Well you know I couldn’t have a FUN graphing unit without games to practice all the skills! Not only do these games help students understand these concepts… but they are also SO fun! They are perfect for center activities and allow for students to practice asking and answering questions, sorting, organizing, and representing data. Look below at some of the engaging ways students get practice with these skills. From board games to spin and graph activities, your students are sure to learn a lot AND have a blast doing it!
Connecting the Real World
For our culminating activity, turn your kiddos into Data Collection Detectives! With this resource, students are provided their very own OFFICIAL Data Collection Folder that allows them to begin their own investigation and practice ALL the data and graphing skills they learned in a FUN real life way. They get to formulate their own driving question, collect their own data, graph their collected data, and ask and answer questions about this data. They LOVE this activity and have such a blast collecting data from their friends. Their questions are always hilarious and love learning more about each other. See this activity pictured below. Be sure to grab the engaging graphing bundle HERE!
Digital Graphing Activity
Looking for something digital? You’ll love this interactive digital resource for Google Slides and Seesaw. It is a fun and engaging way for your students to practice these crucial skills digitally.
Below you’ll see the jam packed graphing bundle that includes ALL these engaging activities… with a FREEBIE of course! This bundle will help you have an engaging, fun, and hands on graphing unit that your students are sure to love and remember!
I hope you enjoyed learning some fun ways to help students become MASTER data collectors and graphers. This is a CRUCIAL life skill for students and the deeper the understanding of these skills, the better! Let’s help students not only be successful but have FUN doing it! I really hope you enjoyed learning more about how to teach graphing in the classroom! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including The Graphing Printables FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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