Organizing Data (Owl Pellets Day 2)

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SWBAT organize data into a line plot.

Big Idea

This culminating project allows students to dissect owl pellets, collect data about the owl pellets and the bones inside, then graph this data.


15 minutes

After students have collected data about their owl pellets.  The data must be organized.  To introduce this lesson, I briefly review line plots with the whole class.  To prompt their thinking and start a class discussion, I ask:

• What is a line plot?

• What is it used for?

Line plots are used for organizing data, they are important because it helps us read the information more easily.  Once data is organized, mathematicians and scientists can determine the results and also ask questions.

The next part of the assignment is to organize data into a line plot, then use that line plot to make statements about our discoveries and ask questions about things that we are curious about.

I ask students to use their data collection sheet (from day 1) as a resource to determine the types of data that were collected. As students share, I write all categorical data in one color on the board and all numerical data in a different color.  Then ask the students to consider why some data is listed in one color and other data in another color.  Students think-pair-share their ideas.  I pull most of their suggestions together to explain that data can be in word form (categorical) or number form (numerical). 

All line plots (with categorical or numerical data) have essential components.  Next, I ask students to list the parts of all line plots: title, label, key (if x doesn't equal 1), even spacing, and all x's are the same size.  I emphasize the importance of precision.  

Today, all students will make a categorical line plot about the types of bones found in their own owl pellet.  The results will differ, but the set up will be the same, so students can provide one another with support in the process.

Independent Practice

30 minutes

After reviewing the parts of a line plot and the importance of precision, students work on creating their own line plot.  Each student uses the data they collected when dissecting their owl pellet.  

Students are provided with graph paper (small and medium sized grids) to choose from.  

I let the students get to work without too much prompting, because they will learn most about the importance of planning ahead if they make mistakes along the way.

While students are working I have a progress conference with each student to monitor their paper orientation, placement of the x-axis, and precision because these are common errors that students make in the process of creating a line plot. 

Students also support each other as needed.  

When students complete their line plots, they write 5 - 10 statements about the data they have collected.  


5 minutes

As a wrap up, students gather on the carpet to share their experience of creating a line plot.  They are encouraged to share any challenges they faced or help given to a peer.

Then, they turn and talk to a partner to share some of the statements they made about the data they were working with.  

Finally, I ask students to share some questions they would ask if they could survey the class about owl pellets.  These are recorded on the board and will be used to introduce the next part of the project.