Little Data, Big Data
The ability to collect, manipulate, analyse and visualise data is an important literacy for the digital age, and has a strong emphasis in most modern curricula. This session will take you through a classroom-tested practical exercise that will help you see how data analysis might be used in your lessons. Bring a computer or Chromebook and prepare to get dirty with data.
- The Australian Curriculum mentions the use of data in several places
- New Zealand Standards mentions data collection too
- USA Common Core State Standards also references data collection and management
- The Ontario Curriculum has a Data and Probability strand that targets this understanding
In other words, being able to confidently collect, manage, analyse and work with data is a vitally important skill, no matter where you live in the world!
Part 1 - Collecting and organising data (Group task)
- Get into a group of no more than 6 people (4 to 6 is ideal)
- Nominate ONE person to be the group leader. Just one!
- The group leader needs to make a copy of this Google Sheet (this link will prompt you to make a copy)
- Group leader then shares their copy of the Sheet with the rest of their group.
- Find the shared Sheet in your Google Drive and open it. You're now all working as a team on the same Sheet.
- Roughly divide your coloured matchsticks between everyone in the group.
- Count your own little pile of matchsticks and enter your data into the shared Sheet. Don't forget to enter your names in Column B.
- Be careful not to change a cell that shouldn't be changed. (If you try to, you'll get a warning about it)
- Once the raw data is entered, you'll need to use Spreadsheet formulas to calculate the missing numbers. The formulas you'll need to use are SUM, AVERAGE, MAX, MIN. Remember that all formulas start with an = sign.
- Fill the formulas across and down so that every required cell has relevant data in it. (Rows 11, 12, 13, 14, and Column I)
Part 2 - Visualising and interpreting data (individual task)
- Once you've filled in the whole sheet as a team, you need to make your own copy of the data. Use the File > Make a Copy command.
- Now you're on your own! This new Sheet belongs to only you.
- Make at least one chart to visually show the data. Do this by selecting some or all of the data, and clicking the (Tip: depending what data you select you might get different kinds of charts. Just make sure the chart tells a story from the data)
- Tidy up your chart with appropriate labels, etc
- Check the colours in the chart. Do they match the correct colour names? How can you fix that?
- Once you're happy with the final chart, move it to its own sheet.
- Copy the Chart using the Copy Chart button
- Create a new Google Doc and a new Google Slides Presentation (Tip: you can just click these links)
- Paste the copied chart into the Doc and Slide, making sure to choose the Link to spreadsheet option
- What happens to the linked chart in the Doc and Slide if you change the data in the Sheet? Try it and see!
- Write a short paragraph below the chart in the Doc or Slide summarising the story that your chart is telling.
- Add a short reflection stating what you learned from doing this activity, and how you might use this idea with your students
Here's some examples of how your finished chart might look
Remember, the purpose of the chart is to visualise the data and clearly communicate its meaning. Different charts tell different stories about data (and they can sometimes be completely meaningless or misleading). All of the charts below were created from the same set of data... as you can see, some make the meaning fairly clear and easy to understand, and others not so much!
Make sure the story your chart tells is a meaningful one!