This summer, workshops were offered to science, technology and social studies teachers from grades 5-12 to pilot this new Data Literacy Series. As a professional development program, it focuses on (1) the essential aspects of data literacy and (2) what trips up our students when they look at data. The first segment entailed exploring the different kinds of data, where to find data, and data visualizations. The second segment dove further into data variability. In communicating science, it is necessary for students to know the language of data variation, how to find patterns and how to speak to the confidence shown in these patterns. The third segment was spent exploring how to help students understand what they can and cannot say from data, and how best to accurately communicate results this way.
Using hands-on activities, interactive presentations and small group discussions, each of the key parts of data literacy was experienced by the teacher “students” so they could learn tips and tricks for helping their own students gain these skills. Each workshop reviewed multiple strategies for bringing data skills into the classroom, and culminated in a dedicated time to think about how to apply something from their current teaching into the data topics.
Teaching effectively with data in our current educational system is imperative for two reasons. First, we are surrounded by an ever-growing amount of data in our society being used to support ideas as well as build knowledge. In order to prepare our students for a wider range of career paths, they need a strong foundation in Data literacy in addition to Numeracy and traditional literacy. Secondly, working with Data as Evidence is a foundational component of 21st century science. Thus, if we are going to truly integrate science practices into our NGSS instruction, students and teachers both need the best possible sense and understanding of what makes data viable.
To learn more about the series, and see some of the materials, check out: https://tinyurl.com/dataliteracyseries. The next round of Data Literacy Series will be held on Wednesday evenings (5:30-8:30pm) at the Rutgers University, NJ from October 2017-January 2018.
Access the Dataspire blog to find more resources for integrating data into your teaching:
Four Dataspire workshops will be offered at the upcoming New Jersey Science Convention so that more teachers can dive into the power of understanding data. She hopes to see you there!
By Linda Burroughs
Vice President / Central Region NJSTA
Science Education Specialist