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Organize categorical data | Students Compute like Computers to Solve Real Problems (Lesson 1 of 7) | K-2

Student Objective

Student will be able to:
1. Identify relevant data for a real-world situation
2. Organize categorical data into a table of numerical values using google slides (a digital tool)


Materials Needed:

  1. Students will each require a computer
  2. Interactive Google Slides Activity
  3. Teacher review of how to make interactive activities in google slides
  4. Students will need a separate mini-lesson on how to manipulate objects in google slides.
  5. You can increase the rigor in this lesson by using larger numbers with more place values or add more categories of marble colors.

Step 1: Introduce the Essential Question that students will work to answer over the course of the week’s lessons split into 5 parts.

Say: “This week, scholars, we will answer the question, ‘What steps do computers take to analyze numerical information and find problems that we can solve?'”

Say: “Today, we will learn the first step computers take: collect and organize numerical information about a situation.”

Step 2: Define key terms.

  1. Numerical – made up of numbers only
  2. Situation – an event
  3. Data – information that is usually made up of numbers only (numerical)
  4. Bar Graph – a picture that represents our numerical data

Step 3: Introduce students to and provide students with a raw (non-organized) dataset that represents what type of marble students.

  • Whatever data you select, it must be a “raw” dataset that has not yet been organized or aggregated (summed, averaged, etc).  In this example, we want students to think of counting marbles by different colors.
  • Say: “Last year, I collected some data from my students.  I wanted to know what color marble they wanted for an activity at the end of the year.  They had the option to choose 4 different colors: Blue, Red, Purple, and Green.  I wrote their name on a list and beside their name, I wrote down what color marble they wanted.  Here’s my data that I collected.”

For example:

Student Name

Color of Marble Wanted
Marvin Blue
Devon Red
Savannah Green
Ahmed Red
Dorrian Red
Joe Green

Step 4: Have students organize the information in a table by marble color and quantity of marble color wanted

Say: “Now, when a computer gets data without any numbers, it turns it into numerical data–data with numbers.  This is called, organizing data.  I need your help to turn our data into numerical data, in other words, to organize my data.”

  • Have students open this activity on google slides (slide 1)
  • Have them independently move the marbles to the “organize” section of the google slide
    • You will need to model this for students first, how to move the objects

Say: [After the rounds, do a check for understanding:] “What does it mean to organize my data?”

  • How do I know when I have organized data?
  • What did the data look like before we organized it?
  • What does the data look like after I organized it?

Model for students:

  • how to type in the number of marbles for each color in the “Organized Data” section of the google slide activity by counting the marbles by within a color type in section “Organize” in the google slide activity with the following results:
Student Name

Color of Marbles Wanted


Green 2
Red 3
Purple 1


  • Say: “Now that we have organized our data numerically, I can see how many students wanted blue marbles, how many wanted green marbles, how many wanted red marbles, and how many wanted purple marbles.”

[Ask comprehension questions at this point about number of marbles in specific categories.  Ask how we got that number.”

  • Exemplar answer:
    • I moved the marble next to each name and put them in a group by color
    • I counted how many marbles were in each group of the same color
    • I put that number in the box next to a color of marble

Step 5: Visualize data using educational technology website for simple bar graphs

  • Say: “Now that we have organized our data, we have to turn it into a bar graph.  That helps computers understand the data better!”
  • Model for students how to grab colored rectangles in google slide #3 and change their size
  • Have students independently:
    • drag and manipulate the rectangles to match the data from the organizing activity (look at exemplar on google slide #2)

Step 6: Provide students with sample raw datasets and walk through another exercise with them.  Then allow them independent practice time organizing their data.

  • [Students should be stopping at the point before they visually represent their organized data]
  • Make more copies of google slide #1 and change it to different colors and quantities of color for more practice for students

Step 7: Stamp and summarize what students did today in class

  • Say: “Today we introduced the question, ‘What steps do computers take to analyze numerical information and find problems that we can solve?’
    • We took the first step that computers take by
      • 1) collecting our data
      • 2) organizing our data
  • Say: “Tomorrow, we will take the next step!  You will make a bar graph out of our marble data to understand it better!”


EdTech used in this activity:

Google Slides

Alternative Ed Tech you could use:

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