The famous quote, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” best describes the themes of this unit. The pictures that this unit will focus specifically on graphical displays of student collected data. As an important text feature, a graph can often provide a substantial amount of information more clearly and concisely than written word. Graphs can be seen daily in the real world, such as in newspapers, in school textbooks, and on television. Graphical representations are essential to understanding research, trends, and survey results. In this unit students will both read graphs for understanding and create numerous types of graphs.
The graphs students will create will be based on health issues and trends of students their age. Through my experience I have learned that students at the middle school level like to learn about themselves and compare themselves to other kids their age. As a result, in this unit, students will use health logs to track their own health data, such as hours of sleep, time spent using media, types of food being consumed, and levels of exercise. Students will also be provided with the opportunity to select their survey topics. They will make personal connections, as well as make connections to their peers. Guiding instruction based on student interests makes the ideas more meaningful and appealing to students.
Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, located in New Haven Connecticut, is a diverse fifth grade through eight grade middle school. Approximately 500 students attend; fifty percent are from New Haven while the remaining fifty percent come from 25 surrounding towns. The diversity of the school is relevant to the make up of the two fifth grade classes that will be participating in this unit. While intended for fifth grade, this unit can accommodate any grade level that studies data and statistics as part of their curriculum. Each of the classes participating follows the same science curriculum based on the New Haven Public Schools Fifth Grade Science curriculum. This curriculum was derived from the State of Connecticut’s Core Science Curriculum Framework. One of the participating classes does however utilize the school system’s sixth grade mathematics curriculum. The students in this class, known as Math Course 1, scored at or above the fifth grade level at the time of entering the school. Their academic level is based on scores they received on their fourth grade Connecticut Mastery Test and the STAR Math program administered during the first few days of school. The other class, Math 2, scored at or below the fifth grade level on the same measures. As a result, the expectations, content, and assessment tools may vary depending on the class. Both class’s grade level expectations are derived from the Connecticut PreK - 8 Mathematics Curriculum Standards distributed by the Connecticut State Department of Education.