My year 4 (8-9 year old children) are working on data collection this week, so to add a little variation to our discussions and some ‘real world’ data, I used Google Drive to make a form to collect answers to a survey and published the form on our class blog. This is quite quick and easy to do from a Google account, and what is more it automatically updates a summary of the responses! See some quick instructions on the Google support pages or Ian’s handy under ten minutes video on using Google forms.
Having observed other teachers doing this (for example, Tom Barrett, David Mitchell and Ian Addison – I’m sure there are many more I’ve magpie from too!) I used my twitter network to ask for help completing the survey. I asked people to tell us how many cups of tea they drank a day and where in the world they were answering the survey from.
The survey was created with the children following our discussion of different types questions you can ask in survey and they thought about the categories of answers we might use, including the ‘more than 6 cups’ and ‘0 cups/ I don’t drink tea’ options. Google forms automatically records responses on an online spread sheet and allows you to manipulate the results to automatically count frequencies and produce charts. The children were amazed that we had had so many results (over 460 after 2 days) and this allowed us to talk about real data collection in a meaningful way as well as start a discussion about pie charts and how to interpret them. The real power came from the children’s fascination at the places that the responses had come from. I hadn’t realised that Google charts will also plot locations on a world map, so will try to get that to work in the future, but just the list of place names displayed on the summary of responses was thrilling enough for a good discussion!
We went on to think about other ways to represent the data and Google spreadsheet allowed us to play around with this. I created a bar chart, but the axes are not always automatically labelled, so we could add an appropriate title and axes labels together.
We have Google Apps for our school, so the next step may be to think having children creating their own surveys rather than doing this as a class starter and plenary activity to a data handling lesson.