This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By Lindsey Lamm, North Allegheny School District
In my three years of participating in the CMU Fluency Project as a member of the original cohort, many of our discussions always end up back at one of the books about which we have spoken since June of 2016. I would even venture to label Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec as a mentor text for The Fluency Project. If you are unfamiliar, these two ladies wrote a book detailing postcards they sent back and forth to each other containing seemingly mundane data they collected each week. Some examples of data titles each week include A Week of Negative Thoughts, A Week of a Workspace, and A Week of New Things. These ladies represented their data in various forms, and they sent these postcards back and forth on the same topic each week for one year.
This book fascinates me because it truly shows just how immersed we are in data as a society. In many cases, we use data without even realizing it. I love how these ladies show just how easy it is to compare data on just about anything. I am hopeful about the implementation of two initiatives, focusing on data analyzing and data discussions, in the 2019-2020 school year. One initiative is for the students in the classroom, while a second initiative is focused on data from staff that students can use to analyze.
My hope is to showcase the project shared by West Liberty University with groups of teachers to hopefully have Data Portraits in their classrooms as a getting to know you activity in September. If we are able to teach the kids that data is more than numbers on charts and graphs all the time, we are well on our way to eventually having the more meaningful conversations about what data is being collected, by whom is the data being collected, how willingly are you as a consumer giving the data to these groups, and how comfortable are you with your data being given away (at times) by companies? Those conversations currently are not written into the resources for the math curriculum at the elementary school, that’s for sure. Students would take the data portrait display and find similarities, differences, new questions, and even figure out which data portrait matches which classmate. This could be done throughout the year, with frequent revisiting to the graphic.
My second hope is to have a teacher data wall on one of our new bulletin boards, as our school is currently being renovated. I would love to do a Dear Data Portrait activity with teachers, anonymously put the final projects up on the bulletin board, and then use the morning announcements to ask questions about the data addressed to the students. Students would come to the board, analyze the data, place their answer into an answer box, and one kid would be chosen each week as our Data Analyzer for the building.
In both of these projects, students would be analyzing data in forms that vary from just graphs and tables. Our kids would have a deeper understanding of data analysis, and, eventually, we would be having deeper conversations. I’m excited to bring this to the table in August with my principals and hopefully implement for this school year.