Teaching Children Mathematics, January 1996 | Go to article overview
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Student Activity Goals

Students will -

* collect, classify, and sort data;

* create a visual representation of collected data;

* interpret data presented in a graphical form; and

* explore real-life applications of mathematics.


The materials needed are -

* a set of blank notecards and

* a copy of the reproducible page for each student.

Planning for Instruction

Begin by encouraging children to share examples of popular advertising slogans, such as McDonald's "Have you had your break today?" and Nike's "Just do it." Ask where they typically see or hear these slogans. Discuss why some products have advertising slogans, whereas others do not. Explain that they will explore the content and scheduling of television advertising.

Structuring the Investigation

1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of specific products frequently advertised on television. Record each product name on an individual notecard, which should be displayed randomly on the chalk tray or board. Students should generate a sufficient number of diverse product names to allow for sorting into different product categories in step 2.

2. Ask, "How could we group some of these products into categories?" Students might, for example, put Mountain Dew, Hawaiian Punch, and 7-Up into a "drinks" category or McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King into a "fast food" category. Physically move the cards into groups on the basis of the suggested categories. Assist students in generating four to six categories. Be sure to include a category that allows for public service "commercials," such as community-service announcements that promote recycling.

3. Distribute one copy of the reproducible page to each child. Ask students to fill in the "Product Category" column with the groupings generated in step 2. Have the students leave a few lines blank to list specific product names that do not fit any category readily.

4. Divide students into groups of three or four. Assign different groups the time periods "weekdays after school," "weekday evenings," "weekend mornings," or "weekend evenings." Ask students to record by tally the first ten commercials they see during that time period, using the product categories created in step 2.

5. When they return to class the next week, have each student share his or her collected data in the small groups. Discuss how data can be visually displayed. Each group should determine a reasonable manner in which to display its combined data on commercial categories then describe or draw this representation on the reproducible page. For example, one group might elect to use a bar graph, another might choose a pictograph, and still another might describe a creative model that incorporates a classroom manipulative, such as linking cubes.

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