Play Games for REAL Data Analysis

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 12, 2014  in: data, Engagement, games, Greg Tang math, Kakooma, Math

data w greg tang math

This is an example of a game from Greg Tang’s website. It’s a great review of fractions and generates data.

Do you have lessons that give you a set of data for the kids to analyze?  The text we use has data sets about the length of last names and the percent of cats that have bad breath.  For some reason, my students don’t seem to care much about these lessons.  This data has no meaning to them. Data analysis is more than numbers from the book.   
So had an idea!  Why not use data that kids create themselves?  I know from our weekly Kakooma experience that kids truly care about these scores.  They have learned all about data analysis from “playing” this game every week.  I’ve seen the students engage in these games as they think they are playing.  (See my post, “If it’s Friday, it Must be Kakooma Challenge Day” for more information.)
The targets for these lessons are to create a box and whisker plot, identify median, lower quartile, and upper quartile of a data set.  Does that mean we have to study the data set in the book?  No!  It does not.  
Create an experience for your students.  Use data that kids create.  My class has used scores from playing any of the games on Greg Tang’s Math site.  They love the competition.  Analyzing this data gives them a real experience.  They have also created data sets by counting the number of jumping jacks they can do in one minute, or by analyzing the sugar content in different types of drinks. For an independent activity, they ask a survey question that will create a set of numerical data.  Then they truly own the learning as they draw the box and whisker plot and identify key concepts. My goal is to give them data analysis practice through out the year and not only during the “data unit.”
Literate math students can look at graphs and data sets and analyze the meaning.  They can interpret the meaning of graphs and write summary statements.  Make this come to life for your students.  Give them an experience instead of a lesson from the book.  You’ll be surprised how they learn to embrace these ideas!

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