Friday, August 28, 2009

Data Collection: What's in a Name?

Chrysanthemum is a great math-literature connection for the beginning of a new school year. Teachers naturally include introductory activities so that students get to know each other and, in the lower grades, become familiar with the different names.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes presents an excellent opportunity for a data collection activity as students collect data on the lengths of their names, comparing them to the length of Chrysanthemum's name. Some primary teachers use this as an introductory reading activity in the beginning of the year as students learn to "read" their classmates' names. A video of this book is also available as a possible culminating activity.

Extending the Mathematical Activity:
  • Teachers may also extend the book to include more formal data anaylsis through line plots, graphing and identifying statistical landmarks (median, mode, range) of the collected data.
  • Students might also analyze the difference in lengths of first names versus last names.
  • Download Mathwire's How Much Is Your Name Worth which asks students to find the cost of their name, then show two different ways they could pay for their name with money.
  • Investigate letter symmetry. How many letters have line symmetry? Younger students should be given Ellison punched letters so that they can fold them to check for line symmetry. Older students might collect data on the number of symmetrical letters in students' names.

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