In December, Dan Meyer asked during his keynote address at CMC North, “What’s Your Question?” He went on to highlight how math, science, and literacy all converge in the practice of critiquing reasoning. Given the rise of fake news and alternative facts we have a responsibility to educate children to be critical consumers of information and data.
Dan Meyer’s talk, along with insights from “playing” with the integration of science, math, literacy, and technology with my amazing colleagues Jennifer Wilson and Vanessa Scarlett, has lead me to my driving question, How do we teach data literacy through the context of science inquiry? From that, additional questions have surfaced. Can we completely remove data standards out of the math program and completely teach them in the context of science? Are there technology standards that support the work we are trying to do with data in science? Do the expectations of data literacy in NGSS and Common Core Math align? Do teachers have the content knowledge to effectively teach data literacy?
As we go down this road over the next several years, here are some of my initial thoughts and findings:
· The data standards in the mathematics standards are designed to be taught and developed in the mathematics classroom. The math standards at any specific grade level are not sufficient to get to the depth of science understanding and thinking that we are looking for. For example, bivariate data is placed in 8th grade so that students have the ability to calculate the equation of a line, slope, and have experience with coordinate grids. Students can and need to use a scatter plot to see patterns in bivariate data as early as third grade. Although calculating the line of best fit, slope, or equation for the line adds value and precision to the conversation, it does not warrant waiting until 8th grade. Our first hand experience with students validates this.
· The data standards are typically taught in the context of a math book and not involving real experiments and student generated data. We have observed what we have intrinsically known, data taught within context is much more accessible to all learners. “Because raw data as such have little meaning, a major practice of scientists is to organize and interpret data through tabulating, graphing, or statistical analysis. Such analysis can bring out the meaning of data—and their relevance—so that they may be used as evidence.” NGSS
· Some standards such as mean are not introduced until 6th grade due to the need for students to be able to divide using decimals. By utilizing technology (Google Sheets or Excel) students in 3rd grade can easily calculate the mean and have an understanding of what is being done, without having the mathematical skills to hand calculate it.
Keep in mind that we do not believe in teaching standards early because a student is high. We have spent a significant amount of time educating our teachers and parents about our philosophy of going deeper, not ahead. We believe the shifting of some of the data standards allows us to go deeper in our science understanding and depth of thinking and that these shifts do not undermine this philosophy.
Here is our first draft at creating a scope and sequence to teach data literacy in the context of hands-on science inquiry. We would love your feedback and suggestions.