Before students headed off for their 11 day winter break, I gave them this assignment (among others):
Nicholas Felton knows a lot about his life, because he keeps track of everything to write an annual report at the end of each year. This year will be his seventh reporting on topics from how many types of nuts he ate (7) to types of transportation used (23) to iTunes songs played (16,682). If you have a chance, check out Feltron.com for lots more statistics.
We will be reviewing data analysis next semester, and vacation is a great time to collect data. Ms. Cardone will be recording two things: # of cookies consumed and # of people spoken to. It is up to you what you want to keep track of, but it needs to be some information that 1. You can keep track of with a number per day 2. You don’t mind sharing 3. Will be more interesting than all 0’s.
I was really excited going into vacation, because it was vacation (obviously), I would be eating lots of cookies and hardly talking to any people- peace and quiet! I had no idea how many students would buy in to this part of their vacation packet, but I figured we could just share data if need be. Upon return from break I was pleasantly surprised to discover that most students had actually tracked something! Those that hadn't could usually come up with something from memory or looking in their phones and we had an awesome variety of topics. The tallies ranged from sirens heard to video game stats to text messages to hugs.
I collected all the data immediately and then a few weeks later I managed to get the laptops reserved to do our analysis. My school is having a literacy initiative where students complete the writing process at least once a quarter in all their classes. The prompt was "Analyze one aspect of your vacation using data" and we started 'brainstorming' by computing all the M's (mean, median, maximum etc.). Then they began their paragraphs with a thesis statement (I spoke to relatively few people over vacation.) and supported it with evidence (Most days I only spoke to 3 people, my immediate family members). The end results were a lot of fun to read. It was much easier for students to analyze something they had experienced than random data; plus I got some insight into what their vacation and daily life experiences are. Thanks to Radio Lab, 99% Invisible and Nicholas Felton for a great activity reviewing data analysis!