Posted by: degarcia | November 24, 2008

Data Analysis

What is Data Analysis?

“Data analysis is a body of methods that help to describe facts, detect patterns,
develop explanations, and test hypotheses. It is used in all of the sciences. It
is used in business, in administration, and in policy” (Levine, Joel H., 1997).

What does Data Analysis include?

  • Sorting and Classifying Data: We can sort and classify data according to one or more attributes (color, shape, texture, etc.)
  • Collecting Data: Find and collect data to answer a question.
  • Organizing and Presenting Data: Data can be presented in different ways.


  1. “Post-it Graphs” Students will choose their favorite color of Post-it note. The teacher will draw and label the x and y axis of the bar graph on the board. Students will come to the board and put their Post-it note in the color category that it belongs. When doing this, they will form a vertical bar. This will form a bar graph. This activity can be used to develop understanding of the units that are represented in bar graphs in a more concrete way. (Variations and extensions of this activity can be made)
  2. Graph Mole”: Learning how to plot data points on an x & y axis.
  3. Looking For the Top Quark: A coordinate grid game like “Battleship.”
  4. You can graph ANYTHING that you are learning in ANY subject. You can use any of these following websites to help your students to make graphs:

Inquiry Lesson Plans:
(Taken from Elementary Mathematics is Anything but Elementary by Damon L. Bahr and Lisa Ann de Garcia, p. 477.)

1. Attribute Sort (younger grades)

Launch: The teacher provides each partnership with a pile of attribute shapes.
Explore: The teacher asks students to come up with their own way to sort the shapes and to explain their sort to a partner using specific vocabulary of size, color, or thickness.
Summarize: As a class, students discuss the different ways they sorted their shapes.

2. Interpreting Graphs

Launch cycle 1: The teacher displays a bar graph without a title or any supporting labels except for numbers. The teacher asks the students what this graph could be telling them.
Explore cycle 1: Partnerships come up with titles and labels to add to the graph.
Summarize cycle 1: Students discuss their ideas, including which ones would most likely and why.

Launch cycle 2: The teacher displays data in 3 different graphs. Students are asked to determine which graph is the best representation of the data and why.
Explore cycle 2: Students use previously collected data from surveys and as a small group determine how to best display their data.
Summarize cycle 2: Students discuss which types of graphs they chose for displaying their data and why.


Bahr, Damon L. & de Garcia, Lisa A. (2010) Elementary Mathematics is Anything but Elementary: Content and Methods from a Developmental Perspective. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Levine, Joel H. (1997) Introduction to Data Analysis. Retrieved April 17, 2009.



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