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Minutes from ME

JUMPING BARS!

GROUP GRAPHING

The instant creation of graphs and charts from spreadsheets in various styles reduces the tedium of drawing and coloring and lets us get right to the exercise of selecting, interpreting and querying data. (We use the Microsoft WORKS program in our computer lab for this activity.)

DATA COLLECTION, SPREADSHEET ENTRY

Third grade students discuss and choose a suitable subject in conducting a poll of their classmates; their choice is "Favorite Sports." Students are polled, the votes are counted and at each computer in the lab a child creates a spreadsheet listing the names of each sport and the votes received. These values are in Column B, the "Mrs. W" column, on the spreadsheet section shown here.

CREATING THE CHART, MAKING QUERIES

By highlighting columns A and B then clicking on "TOOLS," "CREATE A CHART" and the bar graphic, a bar graph, as shown at right, is made. Now that each student in the lab is looking at the same graph we develop such queries as, Which is most favorite? (swimming). Least favorite? (four sports). Are there equal favorites? (two sets). Alternatively, take the "JEOPARDY" approach such as asking "For what question is "baseball, soccer and one other" the correct answer?"

MAKING THINGS MORE INTERESTING..

This activity so far, using one series of results, is interesting but rather limited. Frequently the graph is superfluous, answers could just as easily be found from the table of numbers without using the graph. We decide to increase the complexity by getting more data. Off we go to the other third grade classes and tally their preferences. We record the new results in columns C and D of the spreadsheet and create the new bar graph showing all three classes - it's much more interesting!

The teacher can now ask more complicated questions, e.g.:
Whose class is the squash player in?
Whose class likes tennis least?
What is the total number of votes for soccer?
Which sport received a total of four votes?
In all of third grade is basketball more popular than hockey? ...and so on.

TURNING THE QUERIES OVER TO THE STUDENTS...

So far the teacher has been the one creating the questions. Now for a true group activity, have the students create questions for each other to answer while the teacher takes a rest.
I find that whereas teachers create friendly, "do-able" questions, the students are much tougher on each other when it's their turn to ask! Here are some examples:
"Which class likes tennis and squash the same and kind of likes basketball?"
"Which class likes swimming second best and tennis second best?"
"Do more kids like tennis and baseball or hockey and basketball?" (a tough trick question!)
(I strongly advise a rule that the student questioner must know the answer before asking a question!)

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS

Using birthdays find out which months will be most expensive in terms of buying birthday gifts.
Using colors, invite suggestions on which color a certain class will wear if the most favorite color is chosen.
We combined The World Wide Web with this activity during the Winter Olympic games in Nagano. Each student picked a country, checked the website daily for an updated Medals count (gold, silver and bronze) for that country, the chart created resembled that above with country names replacing sports and medal types replacing the three classes.
Now we look forward to charting the victories and the goals scored by our chosen national teams at the World Cup to be held in France this June and July.
In this graphing activity the spreadsheet does not include a final column showing total votes for each sport. Invite students to get maximums by mentally (or "paperly") totalling the values on the chart, then check their answers and add a spreadsheet skill by adding a final column to the spreadsheet which automatically calculates the totals and even provides a recalculated graph including this column.

CLOSING DISCUSSION

Easy creation of graphs from spreadsheets permits rapid comparisons of graphing style choices, "number pictures" which look so different yet all derive from the same numbers.
Discuss the suitability of different graphing styles to different situations. It is agreed the bar chart is best for the job at hand here but we can suggest situations where a pie chart or an area graph or a line graph would be more useful. We'll try those another time.

WORLD WIDE WEB

Interesting sports-related web sites for children:

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR KIDS.
USA TODAY Prep Sports Links.
PERSONAL TRAINER.
NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY OF LACROSSE.
THE SCIENCE OF HOCKEY
SCHNEID'S VOLLEYBALL PAGE
LPGA JUNIORS PAGE
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL.
SPORTS MEDIA FOR TEACHERS AND COACHES


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