Welcome back math geeks!
I love teaching young students about data and statistics. And I enjoy finding ways to make data and statistics matter more to young students. There are two curriculum practices that trouble me about how we teach students to think about data and statistics, especially at the K-6 level. In this post, I’ll outline one of these troubling practices and my attempt to help to teachers work around this obstacle.
I worked with a team of amazing 2nd grade teachers this week as a part of an ongoing lesson study. They were in the latter chapters of their curriculum where the Measurement and Data content is often stuffed away as an afterthought because they aren’t “Focus Standards.”
And it’s a drag too because there’s so many rich opportunities for meaningful student discourse about data. That is, if it’s done right. Most textbooks suck all the life out of the content. Students need to understand that data tells a story; it has contextual meaning that is both cohesive and incomplete. Students need to learn how to ask questions about data and to learn to identify information gaps. In other words, students need to learn to be active mathematical agents rather than passive mathematical consumers.
We’d like to share with you what we learned about using Numberless Data Problems and crafting an open investigation into bar graphs that is engaging for all students. As always, feedback welcome. Let’s get better together.
Have you seen the amazing visuals over at Number Talk Images? These pictures are ideal for any teacher looking to get all students talking about numbers and mathematical reasoning, regardless of ability levels. We used this image as a number talk to launch a lesson that focused on first grade students making statements about a data display. Inspired by the work by Brian Bushart and Regina Payne, we used a numberless word problem approach to build and structure discourse about a data display.
I hope that there are other 1st (and 2nd) grade teachers out there that might find this analysis useful if they are looking for strategies to get students talking about their mathematical thinking. We wanted students to produce mathematical thinking, not just consume it. Here’s what we created.