Montana County Population Project
Shawn Harris, Grade 7, Math
The content concepts:
The content concepts highlighted here are data collection, spatial design, graphing, using
Microsoft Excel for graph design, evaluation of graphs and raw data
ability to use Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator; ability to interpret raw population data; ability to evaluate raw data and graphs; ability to write a short expository paper that compares the information found on the graphs of different groups of students.
Assessment will take place in the following ways:
See included rubric for formal evaluation of the project, graph, writing, county outline; informal evaluation will be through observation of student skills and thinking as they discuss work with each other and teacher
Students will need to have the following background skills for completion of this project:
The students will need to have an understanding of bar and line graphs, and the uses for each. They need to have an understanding of the fact that Montana has 56 counties, and they differ significantly in size, population, and natural resources. They will need to have a beginning understanding of how population is effected by natural resources and location. This curriculum unit will take place at Ronan Middle School in the math room and computer lab in the library.
This activity will allow for whole group instruction during the modeling of the processes to be used and then small group as the students do their actual project. In addition, the teacher lead activities will be the demonstration of the processes and those mini-lessons needed by groups to continue on their project. The student lead activities will be the remainder of the process as they gather information, create graphs and county maps, and evaluate the information they have gained.
Students will be grouped based on their interest in different parts of the state. The teacher will look at the groups formed and make final decisions so that groups have students in them that are a good balance of artistic ability, writing ability, and mathematical ability. This has been a successful method as the student interest in the county chosen has been very motivating for the students involved. For this project, a group of two or three has been best.
Internet research sites Include:
The teacher will use the Proxima Lightbook computer projector to project the desktop for demonstration to teach the students how to use Microsoft Internet Explorer/Netscape Navigator and it's "favorites/bookmarks" feature. The teacher will show the students the highlighted folder of Montana county population sites and what information is contained in each. The teacher will show the students how to cut and paste only the information they need for the county that they are working on.
Prior to the demonstration, the teacher will hand out the student page (see below) to the students so that they are clear on the information they are looking for on the computer. After the demonstration, the teacher will also pass out the assessment rubric (see below) and discuss with students. In addition, the teacher will present exemplars of student products.
Days 2, 3, and 4:
The students will have time to practice the demonstrated skills while finding the information on the county that they chose to work on. There will be several stations open for the students to work on. They may choose between working on the overhead tracing their county outline or working on the computer gathering information on their county. During these three days, the students will also illustrate their maps to show the county seat and other important cities and towns. They also need to include any major rivers or other bodies of water as well as any major mountain ranges or other geographical features.
Days 5, 6, and 7:
The students will graph the information they have found from the Internet regarding county population. They will find their county's minimum and maximum populations and decide on appropriate minimums and maximums for their graph. They will also decide on the type of graph they want to make and the interval that would be appropriate based on the materials they are using and the numbers they have. During this time, the teacher will take small groups of children and teach them Microsoft Excel.
The students will finish their graphs. They will color their counties by deciding whether their county has increased, decreased, or stayed stable (within 100) on population and coloring the county the appropriate color from the student instruction sheet. (Colored pencils are best, as they do not cover over all the other work the student has done on the map.)
The students will present their information for the group and will put their county up on the large state map made earlier in the lesson by the teacher. They will also put their graph up on the wall around the state map. They will use a piece of yarn to attach the graph to the county so viewers can more easily connect the two.
The student groups will, after looking at the graphs and the map, write their short paper comparing their county to several others as far as population, the resources available there, and the businesses found there. This is to be turned in to the teacher by the period's end.
Using the student assessment rubric given to them at the beginning of the unit, the students will assess their own work. They will circle on the rubric the attributes of the project that they see in their work and give themselves a numerical score based on the attributes they saw.
Examples of Student Work:
(to be given to students as a direction page)
For this project, you will need to do the following:
Major cities or towns
Major geographical landmarks
Labels for each axis
Title and Names of members of your group
Appropriate maximums, minimums, and intervals for the axes
Red: for counties that are decreasing in population
Yellow: for counties that are stable in population
Green: for counties that are increasing in population
Math Formal Assessment Rubric:
Lemonade Stand, good for kids to use
The AIMS Puzzle Corner, another good "kid" page
MathMagic!, good for both kids and teachers
Math.com, good for everyone