Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

Data collection method

This discussion is part of a collection:Great Sites for Real Data

I’ve used this method with older students and can see it would be workable in upper elementary classes. I collect 3 or 4 data sets in the first class meeting.

Teachers often have students fill out info cards (3x5 or 4x6), or they just have students put their name on a card for purposes of learning new names or assigning seats. I do that and ask the students to leave room in each corner of the card for a measurement. Here are some we’ve collected:

1. Grip size. I have two or three tin cans that have a place for the thumb and half-cm markings going around from there. One student checks thumb placement and another reads the grip length.

2. Cubit. Students line up and place their forearms on a window sill equipped with a meter stick. They record their forearm length. This goes very quickly.

3. Rising time, or travel time. Have students write the typical time they are out of bed, or the number of minutes it takes them to travel to school.

4. The fourth corner? If you think of a good one, please reply to this post...

and thanks!


Has anyone tried using to collect data from students? It analyzes the data and can provide quick results to a few quick questions.

I'm out of the classroom now, but can tell you I've used it in local orgs for registrations and eval surveys. It works well, easy to use. One caution: re: collecting data fr stus. be sure you are in compliance w/ school policies.

Thanks for those ideas, Beth. I suppose any number of categorical sets could be collected easily too. I may have to use 4x6 or 5x8 cards next time!

You could also have them measure the length of their armspan, this is great too because it requires them to work with a peer during that awkward first day! You could also use the front and the back of the card so you can collect more data!

You could always have students throw a paper airplane to see the distance that the airplane goes. You would need to have a premade airplane and have measurements already marked off on the floor, then this could also go rather quickly and smoothly. Another option with the same set up (although possibly outside and therefore more time consuming) would be to measure the length of a standing jump.

As a followup to the data collection on index cards, I usually would key the sets onto my graphing calculator's lists and share them electronically through patch cords. I think that having 30 stus each keying in is a waste of time. Nowadays I might be tempted to post the data in web page tables and try the Google spreadsheet import feature – more details at ML discussion thread entitled "Importing Data and Google Spreadsheet."