Having only worked with numerical data thus far, we sought to deepen our understanding by graphing the data. This particular group of fifth graders had a knack for drawing nice graphs and really enjoyed this aspect of the project. With little direction, the students set to work drawing graphs of the area of fifth and sixth grade classrooms. Classmates worked in pairs while drawing these graphs. We weren't sure how team graphing would turn out, but we found the children had few problems sharing tasks. In fact, we were amazed how easy and productive it was for two children to work on one graph simultaneously.
Most of the students chose to draw a line graph, since we had drawn these types of graphs earlier in the year. For the data we were now working with, however, a bar graph seemed more appropriate, since it more clearly showed the differences among classrooms, so we asked the students to convert their line graphs to bar graphs, which they did without much trouble. The next day we put up a transparency of a carefully drawn bar graph of the area of fifth and sixth grade classrooms (see Figure 3). This gave us another opportunity to discuss the apparent differences across classrooms, and to speculate as to what might be done to compensate for these differences. Room 112, for instance, was obviously larger than the other classrooms and should be able to hold more students.
Figure 3: Area in Square Meters
The previous discussion led us to consider another variable, namely the number of students in fifth and sixth grade classrooms. We repeated the above lessons for this new variable (see Figure 4) and compared the area to the number of students by overlaying the two transparencies. The class found this composite view of the data especially enlightening.
Figure 4: Number of Students
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