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Case Summary

Second graders learn how to take surveys, input their data into a spreadsheet in order to produce graphs of their data.

Setting the Scene

  • Applicable Grade Level(s): grade 2;
  • Applicable Subject/Unit(s): Math;
  • Technologies Used in Lesson: spreadsheets;
  • Kind of School: primary (K-3);
  • School Location: suburban(other);
  • Connectivity: link to world (WWW);
  • Location of Technology Resources: located in media labs and distributed to classrooms;
  • Social Economical Situation of Student: mixed lower middle and middle class;

Teacher Information

  • Teaching Experience: 20 years
  • Teacher Technology Experience/Skill Level: used consistently at home and in classroom;worked in computer related business;

Other Case Details

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Whole Story



This was done with second grade students. One of the things in our district curriculum is they have to write a survey question. They have to understand how to survey people and how you get information and put it into different graphs. I gave them some examples of different survey questions. We looked at USA Today. I collected some of the [polls] over the week. You know on the front page, they always have those [polls]. How many Americans like to do what sport? So we looked at some of those to see what are some real life applications of doing a survey. Then the students wrote their own survey questions. They had to come up with four or five choices to go along with their survey. Most of the kids did things like what is your favorite television program? What is your favorite ice cream? What is your favorite candy? Who is your favorite NFL football team? Those types of things. Then, we have clipboards in our classroom so that everybody can have their own clipboard. So I taught them how to do the tally method. You know one, two, three, four, and then you do the diagonal for five. They went outside during lunch recess and there are a lot of different kids outside during that time. A lot of different grades. So they were allowed to go around and survey kids on the playground. So they had their clipboard and their pencil and their piece of paper with their choices on it. So they went around and some kids choose to just ask anybody. Some kids just asked only the second graders that they knew. I said that you could ask as many or as few as you want. We have twenty minutes. "I know it’s your recess time, but you’re going to do this." They didn’t care. They were excited. They were going around. Some kids would end up with the clipboard and this line of people waiting to answer the survey, because they were excited. Once they had that data, they went ahead and tabulated it on their paper. If it is “what is your favorite ice cream”, for the chocolate, they would count up their little tallies and then put the number. You know, twenty-three. They tabulated the data on their paper. Then we went to the computer lab. Every student had his/her own computer and we go there for forty-five minutes every day. We went to the spreadsheet program. Remember these are second graders. So I showed them very quickly how you make the spreadsheet – the cells bigger – and how to change the font to a bigger size. I really didn’t worry about limiting how many cells that we would see on the page. It was just – if you click in this upper corner – then it would highlight the whole spreadsheet. We were using AppleWorks and then, here’s how you change the font, the size, and if you put your little tool in between like the A and the B column. It will change into a ruler. You hold your mouse down and you can drag it out make it bigger. That part of the lesson I did as a whole group. You run around as a teacher. You have the demo computer that shows them what they are supposed to do. All right, everybody open AppleWorks. Everybody go to the spreadsheet. Everybody click here. Check your partners, your spreadsheet should be highlighted. You walk them through how to fix and change all of those things and then save it as the name of their survey. Then, because they had it ready to go, then all they had to do was use their piece of paper and type in the words in the first column. Then their totals in the second column. That took about a day. We spell checked it so that that was in good shape. Then the next day, when we went back, they had to make a graph out of that data. Something that I do in my classroom with them already. We talk about – we only go into bar graphs, pie graphs, and line graphs. I have a poster up that we created together that we use that says pie graphs are parts of a whole. So the information would be part of a whole something. Bar graphs compare things. Line graphs show growth over time. On the second day, when we went back to the computer, we talked. Let’s think about the information that we have. Which graph would it fit? Are we showing growth over time? Well, okay, no – nobody is going to use a line graph. Then our only two choices are bar graphs and pie graphs. We talked about well – it could be, if you asked one person’s class – it could be part of a whole for that class. Or you could say part of all the children at recess. You could use a bar graph. Either one really would fit. Then the students went in and we did it again… I was instructing. Teacher demo up. They were going through the steps. All right everybody you have to highlight that information that you have in your graph. Go to Options. Make a Chart. You can decide, pie graph or bar graph. Then we talked about click on the labels. Let’s type in the title. If you want the numbers in, you can click show the numbers. We walked through all of those types of things. Then they made their graph. So we put it on the page a little bit over. Not on top of their words and their numbers. Then just printed that out. When they went to print, they had to [print just] page one. So it wouldn’t print eons of this document with just blank cells. So they all had their spreadsheet and then their graph to go along with it. I wanted to teach them spreadsheets and the survey part of it was a part of our curriculum. I just tied the two together.

How did you assess it? Did you do things to assess their work?

I assessed it on whether they actually had the information in the right cells and whether they made the graph. They had to have the title on it. Then when we went back to the classroom, they all shared. We sat in a circle and they had their little piece of paper. So we shared each one of their surveys. So also to see, could they make comparisons about their information, their data. Could some of them say, well more third graders like chocolate than vanilla? The totals for the Rams and the Bears equal the total for the Bulls. I probably used teams that aren’t even in the same league. I don’t know my teams. That is how I assessed it. Then we hung it up on the bulletin board for a while and then we took them home.

Sounds like what you expected them to learn, they learned in the way of the spreadsheet. How do you feel the project went over all?

It’s exhausting when you work with younger students on the computer because they need a lot of help. They need you to walk them through it step by step. So there is probably more down time than I would really like to see. But if you are the only person in there with them… I didn’t have any help. Maybe having a couple of parents or some older students might make things go a little smoother and quicker. It was still a good project and actually we ended up doing some other things with spreadsheets later. So that initial lesson was well spent.

So your role was much more involved.

Right. It was, okay everyone click on this. Make sure they all did it. Everyone do this. It was step by step directions. A walk through basically.

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