Groundhog Day Delights: Surveys, Graphing and Tally Marks

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Students will be able to represent survey results on a graph with tally marks.

Big Idea

The students have been working with graphing and tally marks. This lesson allows them to practice these concepts while learning about Groundhog Day.


10 minutes

This lesson is taught on the day before Groundhog's Day.  For the opening of this lesson, you will need  The Groundhog Day Book included as a PDF with this lesson. This story helps to build background knowledge for the lesson.   I print the book on a colored printer and laminate the pages for durability.  I use a comb binder, but book rings or stapling would also work well.

I gather the students around my big chair and I tell them that February 2nd is an important day. Some of the students know what day it is.  Others are very curious.  I tell them that February 2nd is Groundhog Day.  Some of the students are sharing their knowledge of this day.  I tell the class, "I have a book that will help all of us understand what Groundhog's Day is.  It is called The Groundhog Day Book.  Let's read it now."  

Page 1:  Groundhog Day is February 2nd

Page 2:  On this day, a famous groundhog in Pennsylvania, named Punxsutawney Phil, comes out of his burrow. I show the students where Pennsylvania is in relationship to our state on the map.

Page 3: If he sees his shadow, there will 6 more weeks of winter.  (I have a flashlight ready to show the students what a shadow is.  This is not a familiar word for my EL students.)  

Page 4:  If he doesn’t, spring will come early.

Page 5:  What do you want?  I ask the students who want 6 more weeks of winter to raise their hands and then the students who want spring to come to raise their hands.  I then say to the class, This might be a good survey!  Let's move over to the SMARTBoard for some more Groundhog fun!

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the Groundhog Tally Marks Smart Notebook file.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a PDF file you can use to recreate this part of the lesson.

It is important to remember that the students have had instruction about tally marks prior to this lesson.  This lesson provides an opportunity for the students to apply what they know about tally marks to surveys.

I gather my students in front of the SMARTBoard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMARTBoard.

I open the first slide (SMART Board Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can use and read tally marks to complete a survey.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend the results of a survey that uses tally marks.

We then continue with the rest of the slides.

Slide 2:  I heard that while I've been napping in my burrow, you have been learning about tally marks.

Slide 3:  Let's practice reading some tally marks.

Slide 4-7:  Continue as above.

Slide 8:  Great...let's talk about Groundhog's Day now.  If I don't see my shadow, we will have an early spring. 

Slide 9:  But...if I see my shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. 

Slide 10:  Now, let's use tally marks to do a survey. Do you think the Groundhog will see his shadow?

Slide 11:  It is now Turn and Talk time.  During Turn and Talk, my students, especially my English Language Learners, get the opportunity to expand their language skills and practice academic vocabulary.   Every child is partnered up with another student in the class who is their Turn and Talk partner.  They hold hands with their partner and hold them up in the air so I can check to see that everyone has a partner.  I then ask them the question, "What can you say about the results of this survey?"  The students quickly begin talking and when they are done with their discussion, I can tell they are very excited to share their responses.  I repeat the question for the class and then I call on a student to share their discussion.  The student says, It is equal.  I expand on the student's response, saying, "The number of children who want winter and the number of children who want spring is the same or equal."  This expansion of the student's response helps to build vocabulary and syntax.  This is very important for EL students. 

The students now move back to their seats for independent practice.  

Independent Practice & Informal Assessment

15 minutes

Since the students have had several days of experience conducting surveys with tally marks and we had limited time, I made the decision to move directly into independent practice. For the independent practice section you will need the Groundhog Weather Survey with Tallies

I distribute the survey sheet to the students and I tell them, "You will be surveying your classmates today to see what they like best, summer or winter.  Make sure you ask the survey question in a complete sentence, giving the choices.  You want to say, "What do you like best, summer or winter?"  Record the answer on the recording sheet with tally marks.  Make sure you cross whenever you have a group of 5 tallies."

The students begin the survey and circulate around the room, asking their friends the survey question.  I remind them to ask the question in a complete sentence.  I watch to make sure they are recording the tally marks correctly.

After the students are done conducting their survey, I have them total their responses.  They then circle the choice that has more votes and the choice that has fewer votes.  I check their work and they put it in their mailboxes.