What's in a name?

25th June 2004 at 01:00
I had used ICT with key stage 1 classes to compare a Victorian classroom with one today using Microsoft Digital Image Suite and wanted to incorporate data handling to fit in with our numeracy unit.

For our school visit, the children took a Victorian name for the day: this made me think about using names in a data-handling context. We used Counter, a simple program to create a bar chart of the most popular Victorian names. The children worked from the school's log books with each pair working from one page over successive years until the end of the Victorian period.

They worked in mixed-ability pairs. The more able first modelled the inputting of boys' names, after deciding how many children to represent with one unit on the chart. Their partner then repeated this for girls'

names. One read out the information while the other entered the data.

The children ended up with simple bar charts that showed the most popular names spanning 12 years. We talked about why we needed to collect and look at data to find out about the past. This took two lessons and ended with a plenary, during which the children were able to say that some names remained popular while others declined. We considered why some names, for example, Victoria and Florence, may have been used during this period. The children became familiar with the names used during these times and how fashions changed.

We also repeated this for names in current register lists to compare past and present. These activities provided a meaningful context for handling data that encouraged pupils' persistence and enthusiasm and taught them some of the skills used by the historian.

Elaine Dawe

Class teacher, Pucklechurch Primary School, Gloucestershire

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