Weasel's Big Idea: Surveys with Tally Marks

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Students will be able to record and interpret survey data with tally marks.

Big Idea

Combining tally marks and surveys, this lesson is a great way for students to practice important mathematical concepts.


10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need the book, Weasel's Big Idea, included as a PDF with this lesson.  I print this book on a colored printer, laminate the pages and bind it with comb binder.  You can also use book rings or simply staple the book.  You will need an erasable pen to make the book interactive. 

I gather the students around my big chair and show them the book.  The students immediately recognize the character on the front. I say, Do you remember our friend Weasel?  This book is called, Weasel's Big Idea.  If I remember right, Weasel likes to do surveys.  I am thinking this might be another book about surveys.  What do you think?  The students agree, pointing out that Weasel has a clipboard in the picture.  Well, let's read our story and find out what Weasel's Big Idea is all about.

Page 1:  This is Weasel.  He likes to take surveys, but Weasel has a problem.

Page 2:  I don’t have enough room on some of my surveys to record everyone’s answer.  I read the title of the survey for the students: Which one do you like better, cake or ice cream?  My graph is full, but I still have more data.

Page 3:  Then, Weasel came up with a great idea! I can use tally marks!

Page 4:  Tally marks will fit on my graph.  It will be easier to count too!  Can you help me count up the tally marks on my graph.  I invite a student to come up and count the tally marks in the first row on the graph.  I remind the student about counting each group of tally marks by 5.  The student records the answer.  Another student counts the other row.  We check their work, counting each tally.  I then invite a student to come up and circle the one that more children chose.

Page 5:  Can you help me count some tally marks on some more graphs?  Which one do you like better, pizza or spaghetti?  Again, students come up and count the tallies and record their answers. We check their work and another student circles the one that more children selected.

Page 6:  How about this one? Which one do you like better, swimming or biking?  We continue as above.  

Page 7:  Thanks for all your help!  Here’s a flower for you.

 We move over to the Smartboard for direct instruction at this time.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use the Surveys with Tally Marks Day 1 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 SMART Board.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMART Board.

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 do a survey using tally marks.

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

We then continue with the rest of the slides.

Slide 2:  Sometimes I have too many responses on a survey to fit on my graph.

Slide 3:  Tally marks are the perfect way to record survey answers.  They take up less room AND they are easier to count!

Slide 4:  So let's count up the results of my survey.  Together, we count up the tallies and I record the numbers. 

Slide 5:  Let's do the same survey with the class to see what we come up with!  I invite each student to come up and make a tally mark next to their preference on the survey.  When they are done, we count up the tally marks together and record the answers.  I help the students compare their answers and we circle the one that has more responses. 

Slide 6:   It is now Turn and Talk time.  My students get the opportunity to practice their math vocabulary, especially my ELL students.  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, I just did this survey.  Look at the data I collected.  What can you say about the data?  The students start talking and when they are done with their discussion, I can tell they are very excited to share with their partners.  In no time, they have their hands in the air, ready to share their response.  I ask a student to share with the class.  The student says, They are equal.  I restate the student's response to help expand the English skills.  That's right.  There are the same number of tallies for each choice, so we say that an equal number of children like pizza and spaghetti.  I have the students repeat after me, An equal number of children like pizza and spaghetti.

We move back to our tables for guided practices. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you need Surveys with Tallies Guided Practice included as a PDF with this lesson.  Make one copy per student. 

I pass out the survey and have the students put their names on it.  I tell the students, We are going to take a survey together.  I want to know what more children in our class like better, pizza or spaghetti.  When I call on you, you will tell us which one you like best.  Everyone will put a tally mark in the correct space.  When we are done, we will decide which one more children in our class like best, pizza or spaghetti.

I begin asking the students to share their choice.  To help the students expand their language skills, I have them say their responses as a complete sentence (I like pizza, etc.). See video. As the students share their responses, everyone records tallies.  I circulate around the room to make sure that everyone is putting the tallies in the correct spaces.  We also discuss when we need to cross a group of four tallies.

When the students are done with the survey, we talk about the data we gathered.  I ask the students to come up with a comparative sentence that shares the result of our survey.  The student says, more kids like pizza better than spaghetti.  The whole class repeats the sentence.  I then ask which one had the lesser number of vote.  We again repeat the sentence.  The students put their survey away and prepare for independent practice.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, the students will conduct their own surveys.  You will need a copies of Surveys with Tallies Independent Practice Day 1 included as a PDF with the lesson. 

I distribute copies of the survey sheet to the students and explain to them that they will be conducting their own survey.  I say the students, You will be surveying your friends to find out what they like better, swimming or biking.  You will go around the room and find people to survey.  Record the answers using tally marks.  Try to ask every student in the class.

The students begin their surveying.  I circulate around the room and observe them.  I watch to make sure they are placing the responses in the correct spot and correctly making tally marks.  At the end of the class, I have them stop asking and  I then have them summarize their results.  Because they may not have asked the same students, I check each sheet individually before they put them in their mailboxes.