Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sifting through the data

As part of my thesis, I am giving a survey 70 third grade kids with 15 questions where they check a box for "A Lot" "Some" "A Little" or "Not At All."  There are also four short answer questions and an old Kliban cartoon with the question, "What is the cat dreaming about?"

One of the statements was "I think I could write a book some day."  The answer was surprising in that 44% of the kids said "A Lot" and 17% said some.  That's over half of this year's third graders think that they have a book in them.

What was also heartening for me was to see the large number of kids who like to write about non-fiction.  One third of the class like writing about Science and a quarter of them like writing about Social Studies.

This is at a time when the kids are just starting to really receive instruction in how to write.  I love that this is the age where the kids are moving from learning to read to reading to learn.  They took the survey a week after they started writer's workshop instructions, they'll take the same one again at the end of October and again at the end of November.  The big difference will be kids who choose to participate in National Novel Writers Month Young Writers Program.  My theory is that kids who are on the fence about writing and then participate in YWP don't fear the blank page the way kids who don't participate, even though they all have the same instruction.  I'm also curious to see what happens to the "I could write a book some day," numbers.

But I have to share some of my favorite cat dreams (so far).  As expected, a number of kids were rather literal.
Many of the kids observed the cat was "fat" and had the cat dreaming about chasing, catching and eating mice.  One kid  had the cat dreaming of a land where the grass is made of kibble and the rocks were made of turkey.

There were also a lot of answers about the cat feeling safe and secure.  Sometimes the cat was dreaming of chasing dogs or in a world where there were no dogs to chase them.

Another popular theme was the cat playing with or meeting new friends.  One kid had the cat trying to sleep before going on a cruise with lots of other cats that will stop in every country and be able to buy souvenirs to remind him of his trip.

Many of the kids mentioned flying carpets and had the cat flying over Egypt or referenced some form of the story of Aladdin.

There was even a "since this is a writing survey..." answer where the student determined the cat was dreaming about writing since he saw people writing in the house and figured he could too.  But there were some that made me laugh, some that made me sigh.  Among my favorite was a story about the cat being the first cat in space and how he was going to colonize Mars and create a new civilization.

One of my favorite comical answers included, "Bots!  A lot of Bots!  The stars.  The stars are beautiful!!!! Go stars!!!!!!!!"  From one of the most touching stories "...The cat thinks almost everything below is beautiful.  The cat observes its beauty and then moves on to the next thing.  Then eventually he looks at the stars and finds the beauty in them.  He is feeling the wind and think it is the intense version of leaping through the air....."

It will be interesting to see if the numbers do shift at all and, if so, how much and in which direction.  Right now I'm looking at my two sleeping cats and wondering if either of them are dreaming about colonizing Mars or cheering on the stars.

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