Module 1: Categorical Data Sort & Analysis

At a glance over the names provided, the most noticeable thing was that most of the names were people who had made some sort of impact within the United States. It took me a moment to research each of the names, because there were a few that I was unsure of their significance. I was also very surprised by the variety of people that had been chosen! I was unsure about how I was going to sort them into similar groups.



Dr. Seuss

Maya Angelou

Patricia Polacco

E.E Cummings

Anne Sexton

Ellen Douglass Belamy


Louis Zamperini

John Lennon

Malala Yousafzai



Ellen DeGeneres

Jimmy Fallon


Mark in History:

Albert Einstin

Thomas Jefferson

Albert Einstein

I must say that sorting this data was rather difficult as there were several ways that could have worked and several people that could fall under more than one category. Most importantly this data says one major thing about our class and that is how we let people impact us. However, this also boiled down to what ways my peers are impacted. Some of my classmates enjoy reading hence the writer’s section; through history could be reading or listening, through the media and through music.

To continue this survey, I think I would like to ask my classmates to choose a different person from the list. If we were to this we could then really narrow down the way our class may be inspired. It would be interesting to see what the list would look like from the class’ new choices.

What do you think?

 What other things can we learn about people by the choices they make?

What ways could we work a survey like this into an elementary classroom?


After reading Statistics in the Elementary Grades: Exploring Distribution of Data, I found myself revisiting my experiences with data. When I was in elementary school, I can remember sorting items such as shapes, colors, and “favorite” things with my classmates. When we were finished I can recall making a bar graph with colored pencils. This was a scenario that was very similar to the material in the article.  However, on the other side of what Franklin & Mewborn stated I do not remember being taught that what we were doing was categorical data. In my young mind, I thought that this was just our way of learning to use a bar graph.  I also can not remember ever working with quantitative data until middle school.   The article stated that elementary school students should be exposed to both categorical and discrete quantitative data.  The biggest take away from Franklin & Mewborn was that the statistical problem- solving process should be outline with the following four steps:

  1. Formulate a question that can be addressed with data.
  2. Collect data to address the question.
  3. Analyze the data
  4. Interpret the results.

When using these four steps, I see it fit best with real life scenarios in the classroom. Students could gather information through their personal life such as what they had for breakfast and follow the steps to interpret what the most common breakfast food is for “Mrs.Moore’s” class.

In what ways could we apply the four steps to our project?

My personal Observations:

Over the weekend naturally I found myself in Petsmart. As I walked around the store I decided to test my categorical data skills and observe both pets and people. I thought I might be able to put people in categories such as Shopping with Pet, Shopping for dog food, Shopping for cat food, Shopping for small animals, and Waiting for pet hospital.  I think this would yield the most interesting information because we could interpret the results and answer the question “What are most people shopping for in Jacksonville’s Petsmart?”


The most important feature that I noticed in the “How many Pockets?” video was that the teacher was using this lesson to actively engage her students. These students were not just sitting in their desks doing worksheets, this was crucial to this lesson. The environment provided for the students allowed for them to move about and count their pockets actively. I noticed the teacher use another student as an example of counting and determining what would count for their data, this makes students feel included.  I also noticed that when the students were prompted to explain their data that they faced some challenges. They understood that the most common amount was “5 pockets” but could not see it any further than this. It was interesting to watch the teacher repeat student responses to in order to help them think further on what they were saying. Overall, the students were learning both how to interrupt data and how it is represented through graphs.


2 thoughts on “Module 1: Categorical Data Sort & Analysis

  1. Amy,

    I felt that sorting was difficult as well because some of the people could be placed in two groups, but I had to place them in what they were considered the most. After seeing everyone’s choice, I feel that our class is very intelligent and always looking to learn something! Everyone that was chosen has or will keep on making an impact on the world just like we as teachers will do. I think that we can learn a lot from the choices people make. We can learn what their hobbies are, what they enjoy, their profession, their personality, and the list can go on and on. Now in the classroom, I think that surveys like this can be done everyday! Students can create surveys about favorite things, sports, subjects, foods, anything can be used for a survey. I think using a survey like this in the beginning of the school year could be a great way to break the ice. Students will be able to see who they have things in common with and could create friendships! What do you think you would use surveys like this for in the classroom?


    1. Using surveys similar to this in the classroom would be a great way for a new class to get to know one another! Of coarse while at the same time practicing math! I can agree with you on using this as an icebreaker. I would also love to incorporate this into an everyday norm for my classroom such as having the students answer a categorical question when they enter the class in the morning. In this scenario students can move write their answers in a small bar graph on the board. I could see this being implemented in lower level elementary.


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