Information Dots

I was late to the party for International Dot Day in September. Getting an initiative like that off the ground the first two weeks of school is tricky and I just wasn’t prepared. I have it on my calendar for next year so that I’ll be ready.

I thought I would test out some ideas between now and then because there’s no reason to wait on a good lesson. Matthew Winner, the Busy Librarian, has a great post with dot day ideas for each grade level. I really connected with one for first grade about using survey data. It fit in well with a unit I had in mind for 2nd grade about displaying information. 

Lesson 1:
We read The Dot using TumbleBooks. I displayed a variety of Celebridots for students to study. We talked about what makes a ‘good dot.’ Students used supplies to make a dot showing something representing their unique self and added it to a class banner.

Lesson 2:
Students brainstormed a list of survey questions they could ask that would share something unique about their classroom. Because I knew time would be a challenge, we discussed how phrasing the question in a specific way manipulated the results. There is a difference between asking “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” and leaving the question open-ended and asking, “What is your favorite ice cream flavor: chocolate or vanilla?” Students quickly said, “but what if your favorite flavor is mint?” They decided that if the question were multiple choice then “other” should be an option. We also asked yes/no questions such as “Do you have a dog?” or “Do you like to play video games?”

I collected data in two ways. In hindsight, I would only do it one way in the future. I lined all of the students up. The first student stood up with her clipboard and asked her question to the student on her left. After she moved down the line asking a few students her question, the next student in line stood up and followed her, asking his questions. As the students made it to the end of the line they went back to the beginning and sat in their seat. Those in the middle asked questions of every student at the end of the line and every student at the beginning of the line before taking their seats. I kept the students moving and they were usually asking or answering a question, but it was a bit crazy.

One of my classes was cut short on time because I was at an inservice and didn’t feel like writing a complex lesson plan explaining the collection of survey data. Instead I squished two weeks into one and I wrote the questions for the students. This is the lesson I seem to have pictures from. Instead of each student asking all of the others their question I laid questions out on a table and then sent the students around with a marker to add a tally mark to each paper. I read each of the questions aloud with the choices so they had a bit of thinking time before getting up to mark their answers. Students traveled in a large circle around the tables and quickly answered each question. I would do it this way in the future.

If you had a fun tech tool that would allow students to collect survey data, then this would be another option.

Lesson 3:
On each student’s work page I left them room to tabulate data and write final results. After a few minutes of counting tallies and interpreting data I demonstrated how to turn information into dots. We talked about how the dots should fill the page (because I didn’t want them using just 3 inches of the paper they were given) and should be proportional.  I required that each paper have a student name, title, large colorful dots showing size, and labels. Students used crayons to draw and label their dots.

Results:
I love that they could show information about themselves and about their class with the same concept. I am looking forward to refining the process for next fall and working more with our art teacher. I’m also wondering how I could incorporate music into the project. I have some ideas that involve using Poster Sound Recorders….

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