Data Investigation Week 1 Reflections

a. Considering the readings, your thoughts on data, and the activity, what are important skills and understandings for students to develop around data? Why are they important?
b. Which of these are students working on in your class? And which of these would you like them to work on?
c. Can you see working with an interdisciplinary partner to make this data investigation an interdisciplinary effort? If so, what would that look like? If not, what resources and supports would you need to make it possible?
d. What are you excited to get out of the next few weeks?


Based on my experience this year, using the Graph Choice Chart with my students, I think I need to target the relationship between the research question or experiment, the type of data collected, and the best way to represent that data in a graph. Over the course of the year, I've noticed that my students (high-school junior and seniors) will default to a bar graph when given the task of choosing, even after reviewing the Graph Choice Chart. There is also a desire to link the data to the question on the thinnest of premises, likely because the students aren't used to thinking about this question.

I think it's very important for students to learn how to select what data to collect based on the question asked; how to develop good questions, and how to sort out data that is unnecessary or irrelevant to the question asked. In talking with individual students, I learned that they remembered creating dot plots and histograms in middle school, but hadn't really used them since.

I'm eager to find ways to model with students the more abstract concepts of variability, diversity, etc., and to clarify the connection between how and what and why we sample.

I'm curious if after week 2 activities you think some of those activities might help your students think about variability and how to visualize a distribution of data.

One thing I have heard many times and read in some of the research is that students are quick to try to discount variability in the data as coming from human error instead of recognizing that (in addition to human error) there is natural variability which can help us think about what is really happening in a system. Do you find that as well?


I was pleasantly surprised after the readings and videos I watched that I will be able to use a lot of the material with my class of 3rd grade students. In particular, I loved watching the video from the teacher in Wells, ME who did the missions on finding Native Species in Maine with his 3rd and 4th graders. This seems like a good place for me to start, and I will aim to upload data on yellow birch and a couple of other natives in our forests.

I also really enjoyed watching the Biodiversity video by Bill Nye- I had never heard of him before, what a great resource for science students of any age! I am excited to do the Jenga activity with my students- they have been building a background in ecology, and this will push their thinking even further.

Always a kid pleaser and many of his videos out there have worksheets/quizzes or activities that someone has made to go with the videos. Gross Science is also a hit with my 6th graders.

I am glad you saw so many opportunities for VS in your 3rd grade classroom! I look forward to hearing more about how you plan on bringing data to your students; it is so important that they have these positive and empowering experiences early on.

Students should be able to gather, organize, analyze, and interpret data. I find that my students are very adept at gathering data and even organizing data in tables and graphs but often they stop there. The analysis and interpretation of the data is limited and often directly given to my students. I want my students to be able to find their own answers based on solid evidence.

I am hoping to be able to have students begin to delve into the analysis over data beyond just yes or no answers. We just completed a climate change investigation and my students were able to make a line of best fit and say that a particular indicator has changed over time but they struggled with a numerical analysis even one as simple as Seas Surface Temps have increased by 1.5 F since 1900. My kids say SST have risen... They also are not able to extrapolate the data which is one of the things I would really like my students to learn to do effectively to help predict future changes.

I am excited to have hands on experiences with my students. Kids need to connections to their lives and this is a great way to do this!

I agree with your comment that students need to move beyond yes or no answers around data analysis. I've also noticed the trend I think you're describing in that students aren't able to take the analysis very deep or to a very specific level. I think that skill takes deliberate structure and training. I think that next year, I will use resources from the Data Literacy Project to expose students to these type of questions more often, and to develop better analysis skills.

Adding on to your hope of students being able to extrapolate data, I would say that I hope students will also see scientific data as probabilistic rather than black and white and understand variability. I look forward to seeing how this curriculum works towards these goals. Thank you for sharing.

Wow! I am excited to see how far Vital Signs has come since I last looked at it. I have always believed that kids learn best when they see purpose and authenticity to concepts learned in class. In my mind math, science and languages arts are interwoven into every aspect of life and am excited to see a new way to make statistics real and meaningful to my students. Students need to be wise consumers of data instead of passively accepting things at face value. I am excited for another way to get kids curious and asking questions. They need to be able to recognize when data presented has true meaning and when there are flaws or shortcomings. The lessons presented in Vital signs will help students evaluate data in other areas so they can make informed decisions.

In my classroom students are still struggling with going past really surface level analysis of texts they read, charts they see and making arguments and claims based on data presented or result of experiments. They are just beginning to truly observe when performing experiments or describing attributes of items. It's truly been baby steps to sparking their curiosity. With the exception of about a fourth of my student, the rest are very passive learners and see little reason for connecting or retaining information. In reviewing NGSS and GAISE my student fall into the grade 3-5 skills set as they have very little experience with data and analysis prior to grade 6. That is changing in my school but it is a slow process and will take a few years before sixth graders are ready to hit the ground running with level B entry skills.

I am looking forward to getting prepared and familiar with Vital Signs curriculum and planning for a mission come May. Not sure how in depth I can get with all the year end grade six interruptions, but I will get my feet wet and can plan for th start of next school year. My hope is to at least get data collected and have it available for further analysis in the Fall.

I agree with you! Math, science, and language arts are most definitely part of all we do, they are not meant to be done on their own or with no overlap. I think that this curriculum will be useful in getting your students to go beyond the surface. I also think that you will find that some of the activities will be able to help your students expand their abilities around statistical knowledge and data analysis. I look forward to hearing more about how this data investigation works for you and your students.

Statistics was placed on the math curriculum for tail end of the year in our curriculum a few years ago. Other than bare bones of calculating measures of center and range with a quick beginning of year activity, my students have little exposure.

a. In consideration of the readings, statistical question and thoughts on data, one of the important skills students learn through our grade 7 math probability target is how to organize data by creating a sample space using a table.

b. The students use dice, colored tiles in a bag and coin toss experiments to explore different questions that can be answered with unlikely, likely and most likely when thinking of the probability of different events. These simple probability experiments lead then to learning how a sample space is a way to organize data which leads to conclusions. This teaches students a method for the collection and organization of data which can be used in their science research of various species populations.

c. I am excited to begin my probability target and consult the science teacher on my team,Pat Parent, on the connections that could be made for math and science targets as I teach the students about sample spaces and how they are used in math and science.

I'm excited to see how this curriculum fits into what you already do and also (hopefully) how it adds to your "toolbelt".

a. I am guilty of often seeing the connection between math and science in this context: science investigations generate data and math is needed to sort/interpret/quantify/qualify the data, which then needs to be interpreted in a scientific way. If that makes sense, I have been viewing science and math as "related" but not as integrated as they really are. Students need to see these two disciplines as seamless. I really appreciated the reading that explained the differene between statistics and mathematics. Understanding how to investigate problems and what types of data need to be collected is more than just a "math thing" or a "science thing" takes both.

b. Framework practices 1-8 are becoming more and more relevant in my daily teaching. My students are currently in the final stages of science fair projects. Interpreting and making sense of their data is always the hardest part for them. We spend a lot of time evaluating the best way to communicate their results and for middle schoolers, even after the project is "complete", many don't truly understand what some of their data means. We are also spending a lot of time in Practice 7- Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Using data or evidence to support an idea or to make a claim is a lifelong skill that I try to instill in my students, as it will lead to acceptance of ideas and will make their arguments stronger.

c. I am looking forward to truly integrating with my math partner. I am excited to collaborate on a project that our students will find engaging from both disciplines, which will make data and data collection more meaningful and engaging.

Hi clewey,

I think we all can be guilty of seeing science and math as these two separate things. I am excited to see how you and your colleague integrate these two subjects while doing Vital Signs with your students.

a. I have looked over the Next Gen. Standards many times for several years now. I've always glanced over practices 4 (analyzing and interpreting data) and 5 (using mathematical and computational thinking) feeling that they were "a math thing". They are, after all included in the Next Gen. SCIENCE Standards and they are essential in answering questions (science) and solving problems (engineering). I've got to spend more time with those. I also noticed it is suggested that all 8 practices should be used each year (4 and 5 included).

b. I tend to involve students with many opportunities to collect data but don't always take the time to make sense of it or use data in a more meaningful ways (math thing). With this background I look forward to finding more meaningful data to help answer questions Sometimes this data can be used to generating good science questions in the first place.

c. Looking forward to learning how to answering questions with collected data and incorporating more math in my science class. Also looking forward to working closely with my team math teacher to find ways to use data students are familiar with to make more meaning of it all.

Have your students done data collection from home? If so what technology did they have access to? My students aren't in middle school and my district has not provided sixth graders with personal laptops. I am wondering if it would be possible to get reliable data from home. I know for a fact many of my students live in areas with lots of the Japanese knotweed/bamboo and loosestrife but I don't think there is any on school grounds and we have no sidewalks to safely get to areas that are close by the school.

They certainly can collect data from home. As 7th graders, my kids have iPads that they can use. but to gather evidence to back up their claims, all they really need is a camera of some sort and some idea of where they found the species. They can find the exact locations by looking at Google Earth later when they get ready to submit their finds on Vital Signs. To submit their off campus findings they will need to have home accounts though. There is an age requirement of 13, I think.



In order to post from home they will need a citizen scientist account rather than a student account. If the students are under 13 then they will need a valid parent email to use for their account.

The alternative is that the teacher has to create a unique trip for individual student team accounts (assigned to individual students) for each home investigation. That's pretty daunting.

The value in getting parent permission, and a parent email address for students to have their own, home citizen scientist accounts (or why not a shared family citizen science account) is that it both lets the parents know what is going, and also enables students to continue to collect data long after the unit is over. Pparent has his students graduate to citizen scientist accounts and it results in some pretty amazing contributions over time. I just noticed that Massabesic student 65AL56H is up to is up to 17 observations - across many species and many Maine towns. That's pretty cool!

I think we had a draft permission form that you could use as a starting place to send to parents. I can look into it if people are interested.

To get over the tech hurdle for in school investigations, we can potentially lend you more cameras for shorter chunks of time. Let us know what your equipment needs are and we can see what we have and how we can help.

-Sniffly aka Christine

Thanks for clarifying HeronThere.

This is so exciting, Pat!! You and your students alone have collected so much data over time, that I think you will uncover much that you and your team math teacher can do. In fact, you might notice in week 3 that the dataset that we pretending is our class dataset is actually largely data collected by your students! :)

I also love your comment about how data can be used to generate an interesting scientific question to begin with. So true!!

As always, I'm excited to hear your ideas, and to see what next new thing you and your students do.