NOTE: These videos were prepared when the Census at School Project was managed by Statistics Canada. Most of the information is still relevant.
Duration: 7:28 min.
This episode will show you two places on the Census at School website where you can find ideas for interesting activities with your students.
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Hi, I am Angela McCanny and I’m a resource teacher with Statistics Canada.
This episode will show you two places on the Census at School website where you can find ideas for interesting activities with your students. First, the Learning activities section of the website, then the Data and results section, where you can compare your class results with students from across Canada.
So, let’s begin at www.censusatschool.ca and click Learning activities in the left menu bar.
Under the headings Grades 4 to 8 and Grades 9 to 12, you will find lesson ideas sorted by grade level. These lessons were developed by a group of teachers from across Canada to support provincial curriculum. So I am sure you will find something suitable for your grade level and need.
If we look under Grades 4 to 8, we can see that some of the lessons are based on the various types of graphs. For example, the first lesson, What a zoo!, examines how varying the scale of a bar graph changes the information communicated by the graph. The third lesson, Travel to school, has students create stem and leaf plots, using the data about how long it takes them to get to school. Then it uses the data about their mode of transportation to create pie charts or circle graphs.
You will see a large variety of topics covered, from considering the effects of bias on survey results in Bias or no bias, to lessons investigating mean, median and mode in How many people live in a Canadian household? and Are you a “modal” student? In How tall will you be?, students use their heights and percentages to predict their adult height.
Notice that several of the lessons have both elementary and secondary versions of the lesson. Role models and heroes, The Vitruvian theory – does it apply to you?, and Canada recycles! Do you? all have both Grades 4 to 8 and Grades 9 to 12 versions.
Many activities in the Grades 9 to 12 section allow students to explore correlations, lines of best fit and scatter plots. Check out Do you have big feet?, Talking feet and The Vitruvian theory for these concepts. Both Math=GAMES? and Investigating sampling and confidence intervals teach histograms and standard deviation.
All the lessons can be downloaded and printed for handing out to your students.
Some of the lessons such as The Vitruvian Theory, in which students create scatter plots using their height and arm span data, contain student pages, on which students can complete the lesson, and teacher pages with ideas for introducing and teaching the lesson as well as possible follow-up enrichment activities.
Some of the lessons are designed to link with other subject areas besides math. Role models and heroes examines who the students look up to and what constitutes a role model or Canadian hero. This lesson can be used as part of a thematic unit in language arts, history or social studies.
The lesson Canada recycles, Do you? fits nicely with the environmental science curriculum at various grade levels. It compares the students’ responses to the environmental questions on their survey, with Canadian responses to the Households and the Environment Survey and has students create comparative bar graphs.
If we go back to the main Learning activities page, you will see that you have the option to view the lessons sorted by math concept, at both the elementary and secondary level, which can make it easier to find activities for the concepts you wish to cover in your unit.
Also, on the Learning activities page, there are some samples of actual student projects that were created using the You are the researcher lesson from the Grades 4 to 8 section. This project can make a fine alternative to an end of unit test and the samples can be used to give your students a model for their work. Students generally are very proud of their investigations. Why not post them around the school to interest other teachers in the Census at School project?
On the Learning activities page, you can also find Tips for using your class data with ideas for creating your own follow-up activities. There is a link to the resource Teacher’s Guide to Data Discovery, which can be used as a primer for data concepts and vocabulary for you as a teacher.
There is also a link to the United Kingdom Census at School site, with many curriculum activities that could also be useful for your classroom.
Just a note here before we leave the Learning activities page. Most of the activities here can be done either using a computer or by students in the classroom, with paper and pencil. If you decide to use the computers, make sure you reserve them well in advance.
One of the most interesting things to do with your class dataset is to compare it with other Census at School data collected across Canada. It’s fun to see how similar or different your class might be.
One way to do this is to use the results from previous years of students who have done the Census at School survey. In each school year, the results from all the students who have completed the Census at School survey are combined in one database and averages are taken for various questions from the survey. These averages make up the Canadian summary results for Census at School.
So, let’s take a look at these. From anywhere on the Census at School website, click Data and results in the left menu bar. In the middle of the page, click Canadian summary results.
Let’s look at the Summary results from the 2007/2008 school year and click Canada
Notice that you also have the option of looking at the data broken down by provinces and territories, but let’s click on Canada this time. Here, you have a choice of 34 questions taken from the elementary and secondary questionnaires.
Click on table 3 – Average height, by age. Here we have all the students from the 2007/2008 school year, broken down by age, and the average height for the girls and for the boys has been found. Can you find an age at which the girls are taller than the boys? Up to age 12, the heights for girls and boys are pretty similar. Now, look at age 12. For just that one year, the average height of the girls is .1 cm taller than the boys, and then the boys pull out in front and the height difference increases for the rest of the teen years.
Doesn’t it make you wonder how similar the average heights for your students are to other students at the same age level? And wouldn’t it be fun to compare your students for some of the other questions on the survey?
For example, table 22 – Which method do you use most often to communicate with your friends? At both the elementary and secondary level, students communicate most in person. Is this the same for your class?
Or how about tables 11 and 34: the Average reaction time and the Average time to complete the memory game. Who is faster on average: girls or boys? Does this change with age? Who is faster in your class? And the exploration could go on…
I hope this introduction to the Learning activities and the Canadian summary results is beginning to give you some interesting ideas about ways that you can use your class data. I think you will find it easy to use the data to cover your curriculum.
Have fun and start exploring!