Strand: Data Management and Probability
Overall Expectation: Collect and organize discrete or continuous primary data and secondary data and display the data using charts and graphs, including continuous line graphs
This task is intended to be given towards the end of a Data Management inquiry, as students will be utilizing knowledge learned throughout the inquiry to complete the task. Students were asked to work within a group of their peers to develop a research question, design and implement a survey to gather data, and conduct analysis on the information collected. The research questions were based on the topic of improving the school environment, either by suggesting a physical change to the school or challenging the pre-existing routines and structures. The surveys were used to collect sample data from the students to show whether or not this change would be supported by all students in the school. Students were provided with a template throughout most of the task. This helped to ensure that students completed and worked through all four steps of the Problem-Solving Model. It also worked as a valuable graphic organizer for students of all ability levels, including those identified with an Individualized Education Plan.
Problem-Solving Model Stage
Corresponding Task Stage
Understand the Problem
Problem – What data to collect, from who, and why is it important?
Make a Plan
Plan – What do you need to conduct this research?
Carry Out the Plan
Data – How do we manage the collected data and organize it?
Look Back at the Solution
Analysis and Conclusion – What does the data tell us and did we find an answer our research question?
Hailey and Vortex chose the following research question:
They made some predictions about what the outcome of their survey would be and shared their rationale behind choosing this research question. They touched on school procedures with a focus on school rules and academic achievement.
A second pairing of students, Brayden and Mohammed, chose a different research question focusing on the physical school yard.
Both boys believed that the hockey rink would make the school yard more fun, especially when the snow hinders other sports (soccer, basketball, etc.).
Hailey and Vortex developed the following 5 research questions:
Their questions targeted many important aspects of their research question, including asking about the positive aspects (extra time on school work, having the option to choose) and negative implications (being silly, coming up with excuses) of being able to stay inside for recess. Some of the wording of their questions could have been tweaked to be less bias or leading to their predicted outcome. Their multiple choice options were detailed and for the most part went above and beyond the typical “yes” or “no” responses.
Brayden and Mohammed presented the following 5 survey questions:
Both students are on Math and Language IEPs, with one of the students currently at an ESL stage 4. They required some extra prompting above and beyond the structure provided to create the survey questions. I asked them what some potential downfalls might be to having a hockey rink and challenged them to think of their idea from all viewpoints, including that of the principal. From this conversation, they came up with some questions about safety and downfalls. Some of their wording still induced some bias into their survey, such as “everybody wants a hockey rink” in question 2. We had talked about bias before this task, however, it might have been beneficial to revisit this concept right before students wrote their survey questions (or even as a written note at the top of the graphic organizer).
During this phase of the task, students collected their completed surveys and organized their results using tally charts in the graphic organizer provided. Hailey and Vortex did very well at organizing their work, restating the question/responses, and using frequency charts to visually display the data.
They then took this data and displayed it in a graph. They created a key, labeled their axis, and included a title. They chose to display the data from the survey question that most directly correlated to their research question, clearly displaying that the students wished to have the option to stay indoors during recess.
Brayden and Mohammed’s frequency charts showed that their responses were most definitely not unanimous. Due to their results being fairly mixed for each of their questions, they found the frequency charts a little difficult to read. Therefore, they included the overall number for each response on the right hand side. This was an easy adaptation that allowed them to more clearly view their findings.
Their survey results for their initial research question proved to be very surprising, as it was opposite from what they had predicted the outcome to be. Brayden and Mohammed needed some extra guidance, in the form of a conference, to construct the following bar graph:
Students were guided through the “Look Back at the Solution” process by answering some conclusion questions related to their findings. Hailey and Vortex found their research question and findings to be in line with their predictions. Their sample focused on the intermediate classes, which after a check-in discussion, they agree that the age of the students may have swayed their results. Had their survey been handed out in a grade 2 class of students that love their recess time, their results may have drastically changed.
They had some very enlightening learning takeaways from this task.
I truly believe that the success of their learning was in part due to their awareness and use of the problem-solving model. The model helped to focus their learning and efficiently work through the task at hand (which was by no means a small task).
Brayden and Mohammed were fairly upset that they did not receive the results they were looking for. They thought that everyone would want an ice rink in the school yard. When asked about why they think they did not get the results they were looking for, they looked back at the wording of their questions and found a potential cause for error:
They realized that their wording gave the impression that the rink would only be used for hockey. Brayden and Mohammed thought students would want the ice rink to go skating on, but their focus on hockey skewed the results. I prompted them to think about how they could change the research question to be more inviting of all students’ interests:
It wasn’t until after they conducted their survey and analyzed the results that Brayden and Mohammed came to realize that a hockey rink may not be the best change to the school environment. The more they thought about it, they more things they realized they had to consider when making this decision. Through their analysis and conclusion, they listed more reasons why the hockey rink may not be the best option, such as it taking up too much space of the school yard.
Through further analysis, they dug deeper and started exploring concepts of costs versus gains. Although they were still fairly upset that their initial idea did not receive a positive consensus, they were able to learn from this lesson and apply it to future learning.
I firmly believe that the 4 step problem-solving model was a positive framework for the students to use when completing this task. Many times, the problem presented overwhelms students to a point where they do not know where to start, especially when the problem has multiple components and asks the student to complete multiple tasks. The problem-solving model took the students through the task step-by-step and helped them to understand the problem before beginning. This also helped the students to avoid starting the task, realizing they did something incorrectly, and starting over; they were able to understand the question, make a plan, and go ahead with the task.
The problem-solving model also helped students of all ability levels to be successful within a guided structure. High achieving students, like Hailey and Vortex, were able to work through the process and extend their learning within the structure provided. Students with different accommodations and modifications, such as Brayden and Mohammed, used the structure to stay focused and motivated, being able to “work ahead” while the teacher was working with a different group.
I found the overall number of questions throughout the process was reduced due to the use of the problem-solving model. The students were able to dissect the problem and thoroughly understand the task before even making a plan to solve the problem. This allowed more time for myself as the educator to check-in with various groups and challenge/extend their learning rather than only working to get students to a position where they can complete the task.
The problem itself proved to be fairly open in regards to what they could conduct their research on. The task encouraged student voice, which is especially valuable in the context that it was presented (improving the school learning environment). This, in turn, created a real-life application of their learning which gave students a sense of agency. Perhaps the task could have been more open if the problem-solving model was discussed and displayed in an anchor chart and presented less in the form of graphic organizers.
There were many learning goals that were achieved throughout the task. Students achieved multiple curriculum expectations, while also working on many learning skills. Many of the 6 C’s were incorporated into this task, such as citizenship (being an active and contributing member of the school community), communication (conducting surveys and consolidating learning), critical thinking and problem solving (deciphering what does the school needs and creating a research question) and collaboration (working within a group to achieve a common goal)(The Learning Exchange).
There are many possible extensions to this activity that would further the students’ problem-solving learning. Students could calculate percentages and ratios of their findings and display them next to their collected data. Within the Language subject area, students could orally present their research findings to their classmates and have an open discussion (perhaps even a vote) about which suggestion was most representative of the student population. Students could also create a written report summarizing their findings and submit them to the principal for review/feedback.
"The 6 C’s." The Learning Exchange. N.p., 2011. Web. 6 July 2017.
The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics. Toronto: Ministry of Education, 2005. 95.