The middle school was doing some shuffling around of classes, including my 8th grade class. At the end of the year last year, we had mostly decided that my tech class should prepare students for their science classes. I was perfectly okay with this since I’d struggled so much in hitting the right note with my 8th graders. I hadn’t figured out quite what to do by the end of the summer. I’d focused on my upper school classes, which meet more often and have more material to cover. After another shuffle, it was decided that I didn’t need to focus on prepping students for 9th grade science, so i was free to cover what i wanted. I liked the idea, though, of a math/science focus, but I also wanted to cover some computing things. I was struggling with what to do last week. I’d search for some things online and most of what came use was keyboarding and word processing. Bleh.*
A shout out to Twitter gave me a few suggestions, but nothing very concrete. Finally, in the shower one day, I came up with the whole thing. I’m doing data visualization in my CS class, so I decided it might be fun to do the same in 8th grade. I have only 10 weeks with each group of 8th graders, and I only see them once a week. Basically I’ve broken the time down into 3 chunks. The students will work in pairs/groups, which I find works especially well for this age group. Here’s the breakdown:
- First third: What is data? Presenting data in infographics vs. pie/bar charts. Create your own infographic.
- Second third: Data tells a story. What story does your data tell? Create a newscast based on your data.
- Final third: Manipulating data. Using graphics and other methods to distort data. How to recognize poorly presented data. Correcting bad representations.
I’m actually quite excited about this. We’ll be using spreadsheets and image editing software. We’ll get to use our new multimedia project room with its video camera and green screen. All the while, the students will be learning something valuable. This is why I love my job!