While the end of the school year can be a tricky time to keep students engaged, teacher Charles Coleman developed a fun and productive project to drive learning. A combination of technology and personal choice led to high student engagement even as the school year came to an end.
Education That Makes a Difference
As a ninth-grade math teacher at Palmer Secondary School in British Columbia, Canada, Coleman was looking for a project that would help students to review their math skills through practical application. To engage students at the end of the school year, though, would require more than just a textbook exercise.
“I feel that it’s important to give students an opportunity to work with systems that may provide them an edge in the job market.”
To meet this goal, Coleman searched online for tools that might suit his purpose. With a background in computer science and some experience with online surveys, he started searching for a user-friendly online survey tool that students could use to conduct research and practice their statistics skills. Considering that one-third of students in the class spoke English as a second language, the chosen platform needed to be intuitive without too much explanation required.
Feedback That Counts
First, he built a quick sample survey to collect feedback about the school cafe — a clear model that demonstrated the basics of data collection. With the limited amount of time available to conduct the entire project, the survey template provided a good foundation to get students started. Each project needed to include at least six questions, and students could choose their own topics and branding.
Next, students created and conducted their surveys. “They came up with some interesting stuff,” said Coleman. Shoes, fashion, sports teams, video games, and favorite bands were popular topics. Most students shared their surveys through multi-use links to collect as many responses as possible, although some used offline options as a more accessible accommodation.
Finally, when the results were in, students created their own graphs and charts to demonstrate their findings. The only drawback, Coleman noted, was that they didn’t have enough time to gather sufficient “real data” and ended up completing their own surveys a few extra times for “dummy data”. As a result, the reports might have been a bit artificial, but the calculations were real enough to allow plenty of practice.
Reflections on Learning
Despite the shortened project window and the late point in the year when the project was carried out, the work got done. Said Coleman, “They did complete the task, they were engaged, and they all turned it in.” Describing the students as “media savvy” (“They just click away until they get what they want!”) he was both pleased and surprised at their capabilities.
“It’s important for students to understand statistics, and how they’re created,” said Coleman. For students to be successful now and in the future, they also need to be engaged and motivated, and this creative project helped to build the right connections for success.
Many thanks to Charles Coleman for sharing his story! Have a SoGoStory you’d like to share? Let’s connect!