Harry Potter Research Project

Activity Overview: 

The main goal of this project is to allow the students to form a question of interest to them, write a survey to find the answer, interpret the results of the data, and find ways to share their results with others. Their subject area is about the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

Students will decide on their own research question, write a  survey to gather the data they decide they need, decide on an audience for their survey, find ways to send out the survey, find ways to sort through the returned data, find ways to analyze the data, find ways to display the data, interpret results of the survey, and find ways of sharing results with others.

·To understand the concept of random sampling

·To prepare graphics which depict our survey results

·To draw predictions and conclusions from our graphics and

·To share our findings with others

·To become familiar with spreadsheets

·To become familiar with Tom Snyder Production's The Graph Club

·To use word processing software

·To use e-mail

·To work cooperatively to solve a research problem

·To be quality producers


NCTM Standards:

·Systematically collect, organize, and describe data

·Construct, read, and interpret tables, charts, and graphs

·Make inferences and convincing arguments that are based on data analysis

·Develop an appreciation for statistical methods as powerful means for decision making

·Evaluate arguments that are based on data analysis

·Investigate relationships among fractions, decimals, and percents

·Describe and represent relationships with tables, graphs, and rules Waverly-Shell Rock Content Standards and Benchmarks:

·To read, construct, and interpret graphs and charts

·To collect, organize, and analyze data and make reasonable predictions

·To compute averages

·To collect, organize, and analyze data to make reasonable predictions

·To find the mean, median, and mode of a set of data

·To explore concepts of percents

·To recognize relationships among fractions, decimals, and percents Waverly-Shell Rock Essential Learnings

·An effective communicator:

·Demonstrates competency in:





·Demonstrates awareness of audience through:

·Social awareness

·Sensitivity to others

·Impact of non-verbal communication.


·A self-directed learner:

· Prioritizes and sets realistic goals

·Demonstrates planning

·Is resourceful

·Shows initiative

·Manages time well

·Can see a task through to completion


·A critical thinker/problem solver

·Identifies and analyzes problems

·Displays problem-solving skills, gathers and applies information from a variety of sources, sees the interconnectedness of ideas, uses successes and failures as opportunities to learn


·A knowledgeable person:

·Possesses a wide background of knowledge and experience in academic areas, social situations, life, and work skills

·Accesses, processes, and applies information

·Is inquisitive

·Knows when and where to seek assistance


·A collaborative worker:

·Understands the function and dynamics of the group

·Participates as a positive group member

·Provides input

·Accepts multiple points of view

·Gives and accepts criticism

·Sees ways to resolve conflict

·Brings out the best in others

·Supports group decisions


·A quality producer:

·Displays a strong work ethic

·Works efficiently

·Demonstrates integrity

·Is reliable

·Demonstrates self-discipline

·Follows directions and procedures

·Meets or exceeds expectations


·Is goal-oriented

·Shows pride in work

·Leads a healthy lifestyle

·Manages stress

·Displays a positive attitude


Fourth/Fifth Multi-Age Project Goals:

·To reach a consensus on a project goal for the school year

·To write a survey which will give us the data needed to answer our research question

·To decide on methods of collection of the data

·To identify the range of data

·To identify the average of data

·To understand the concepts of fractions, decimals, and percents

·To organize data to show trends

·To make generalizations based upon data results

·To use technology as a learning tool

·To interpret data shown on a chart or graph; and draw conclusions based on such interpretation

·To practice making many different kinds of graphs and other graphics to illustrate statistics

·To compare different ways of displaying statistics, seeing that some ways are better in certain situations

·To see that a given set of statistics may be shown in multiple ways without a change in the data

·To analyze data collected to see if we have a fair sampling of population; or, if we do not have a fair sampling, to be able to identify the population upon which we are basing our findings

·To understand the concept of random sampling

·To prepare graphics which depict our survey results

·To draw predictions and conclusions from our graphics and

·To share our findings with others

·To become familiar with spreadsheets

·To become familiar with Tom Snyder Production's The Graph Club

·To use word processing

·To use e-mail

·To work cooperatively to solve a research problem

·To be quality producers



This project’s main goal was to allow the student the opportunity of forming a question of interest to them, writing a survey to find the answer, interpreting the results of the data, and finding ways to share their results with others. Many goals from the language arts, math, and technology areas were met through this project. The project also met many of the district's Essential Learnings. At the beginning, each cooperative group took responsibility for their own project and the entire project evolved as students met and solved challenges. The stages of the unit were:

  1. deciding on what they wanted to know

  2. planning questions

  3. preparing surveys

  4. distributing surveys

  5. collecting surveys

  6. analyzing surveys

  7. displaying results of surveys

  8. reflecting on the project.


(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video  clips used.)



Standards http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/content/cont.html

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators http://cnets.iste.org/sfors.htm

Students brainstorm ideas for a data collection/research project.  (In a letter that went home to them before school, they were asked to be thinking of something they would like to research as a class project.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


English Language Arts: 7


Students generate a list of research ideas and vote for the final research project for the current school term.  (This year, the class voted to find out what type of person reads the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.)

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Students discuss what information concerning the Harry Potter readers they want to know.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Students make a list of things they want to know about the topic chosen.

English Language Arts: 7


Students work in their cooperative groups and use the Alpha Smarts to generate a survey, which will collect the information they need, to answer their questions about their research project.

Math 5: Grades 3-5

Grades 3-5: 1, 8, 9

Students share their cooperative groups’ surveys, and the class generates one composite survey for the project.


Grades 3-5: 1

Students brainstorm on ways to collect data.

Math: 4, 5 Grades 3-5


English Language Arts: 7

Grades 3-5: 6

Students collect data.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


English Language Arts: 7

Grades 3-5: 6, 7

Students decide on way to organize the data.

Math 5: Grades 3-5



Students look at data collected on a question, which was not in the survey.  (What is your favorite character from Harry Potter books?) Teacher had prepared a pie chart and a bar graph showing the results of our class compared with the results found in American Miss magazine. Students compared results using rational number concepts. They discussed how the sampling of the survey would change the results.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Students in cooperative groups decide on their group’s specific questions they want to answer, organize their data, and find ways to display it.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Students in cooperative groups write summaries of their results to present. They make decisions as to what generalizations they can and cannot make.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Students present graphics showing their results in their cooperative groups.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Class brainstorms as a whole as to the strengths and weaknesses of the surveys.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Class looks at generalizations that were made and decides on the validity of each.

Math 5: Grades 3-5


Cooperative groups use technology to present findings to others and explain their results.




Web site:
Yahoo.com (students went to this source and then clicked on Education....)

The Graph Club. Tom Snyder Productions.

Available: http://www.tomsnyder.com.



The assessment of this project will be prepared and conducted by the students and teacher.  Each cooperative group will present their findings to the whole class.  For example, a presentation will be made by the group who asked the questions, "What is the average age of the people who responded to our survey?" and "What is the average age of those who responded who have actually read the Harry Potter books?"  After each presentation, the class will give input to the presenting group in terms of what was good, as well as what they didn't understand.  When each group has finished presenting, we will make a rubric of what elements went into a quality production.  After this, each group will have a final opportunity to edit their presentations before presenting their findings for others outside our classroom. Because this project is for the purpose of allowing students to take ownership of their own learning and for them to work cooperatively for a commonly defined goal, assessment is not for the purpose of grading students.  Self-assessment, group assessment, and whole project assessment will be part of the project.



Myrna Bertheau, Shell Rock Elementary School, Shell Rock, Iowa





· Students are asked to be thinking of a data collection idea for the upcoming year in the introductory letter sent to them.

·Students write their ideas on a post-it note and post it on a white board.

·Teacher discussed the goals of the data collection project in terms of presenting a final presentation to others showing the results of our project.

·Teacher discusses with students the Essential Learnings for the district that would be addressed through the project.

·Students brainstorm about each idea listed and discuss some of the ways data could be collected to answer each potential question.

·Students vote on 3 topics they feel would be the best topics for our project.

·Class discussed the 3 projects that received the most votes and students who felt strongly about any one of them campaigned for it.

·Class voted on the project for this school year.

·Class made predictions about what the typical reader of the Harry Potter books was like.


· In cooperative groups, students decided on the questions they wanted answered through the data collection project.  They prepared a transparency showing what they wanted to find from the surveys.  They shared their transparencies with the whole class.

·The unit recorders then compiled a final list of what students wanted to learn as a result of the project. (They used the computer lab and typed up a list of questions.


·Each cooperative group decided on one or two of the questions they wanted to take responsibility for

·Each cooperative group wrote a survey that we could send out to find the answers for our questions.

·The cooperative groups gave their sample survey to other class members who compared it to their own and assessed it as to whether it would give them the data they needed to answer their questions.


·Students in cooperative groups make a list of places we would want to send our surveys.

·Students in cooperative groups make a list of ways to get our surveys into the hands of others.

·Cooperative groups shared their ideas with the whole class.

·The whole class decided on which cooperative groups would contact each different target group listed.

·Surveys were sent.

·Letters were written to libraries and radio stations asking for their help in making our survey known. Each group took responsibility for faxing their letter to a different source.

·Each group also sent surveys via the Internet to other schools throughout the United States.


·As surveys came back, students in their groups looked at the results, which affected their research questions.

·Students were given a demonstration on how to use “The Graph Club” (Tom Snyder Productions).

·Each group used “The Graph Club” and kept tract of the data that pertained to their question(s) from the survey.

February and March

·The class continued to work on rational number concepts in math class. We discussed and found many examples of ways to use fractions, percents, and decimals in our data collection projects.

·New data was entered as surveys continued to be returned.

·Students worked on the concept of generalizations and overgeneralizations that could be made based on results they had obtained.

·Students looked at a magazine graph (November/December 2000 issue of American Girl-page 5) that showed the favorite Harry Potter characters of those who had responded to this magazine’s poll.  The magazine asked its readers to name their favorite Harry Potter character.  The students were not told the name of the magazine at this point. The results were that Hermione was the favorite character.  The class brainstormed as to which population of people might select her as their favorite character.  

·Students then named other magazines they were aware of and predicted which population of people would be the most likely to read that particular magazine.  They then predicted which character that group of people might be most likely to select.

·The difference between random sampling and selected sampling was discussed.

·Students learned about sampling groups and tried to decide which groups were not being included in their survey results.

·Each group made an attempt to include people who represented a group not included at this point. (The group decided that the two groups least represented were the college age group and the elderly.)

·Our class was selected by the person in charge of the hot lunch program to complete a survey about school lunches.  Students had a discussion about being honest in filling out surveys so the people can get honest results. A discussion of why people conduct surveys followed.


·Students were shown how to use Microsoft PowerPoint to share results of their surveys with others.

·Students in cooperative groups made a PowerPoint presentation showing the results of the survey with their classmates.

·Students gave other groups suggestions as to how they could make their PowerPoint presentations easier to understand.


·Students wrote final reports on their project.

·Students shared their PowerPoint presentations with others outside our classroom.

· Students discussed the survey in terms of which questions on it were the most and least helpful to them in gathering the necessary data to answer their questions.

·Students brainstormed about who would be interested in the results of our surveys and why.

·Students discussed the frustrations of not being able to get the survey out and back from as many different groups of people as they had wanted to.


Each year, the class selects a research project that enables them to put into practice the Waverly-Shell Rock Essential Learnings. The project also allows for students to take ownership of their own learning. Many of our basic language arts skills and math goals are incorporated into these projects as practical applications. Each year, the project takes on a life of its own once the students get involved. This makes it a little hard to predict or plan. However, this type of a student-centered project pays off with so many dividends for the learners. It is their project and they put themselves into it with gusto.

Technology Resources:

The technology evolved out of the project as opposed to the project evolving from the technology. Students had goals in mind and found technology that would help them meet those goals. Students have had experience using e-mail, fax, and computer software, so these elements were brought into the project as natural solutions to problems encountered. This is the first time we have used Tom Snyder Productions’ The Graph Club. Usually, we a use spreadsheet, but this piece of software caught the interest of the students and seemed to be effective. The other technology used in the project were what we normally have available to us as a part of the Waverly-Shell Rock Schools. Our classroom has 3 networked with Internet access. We have a color printer available in our classroom. We also have a computer lab of 24 computers that are all hooked up to the Internet.

School Background Information:
The population of Shell Rock is around 1300 people.  The majority of parents are blue-collar workers. Shell Rock Elementary School has about 168 students (we are a part of the Waverly-Shell Rock School System which has an enrollment of 2,011).  None of the students  have limited English fluency. As a school and as a district we have less than 1% who are non white.

Teaching Strategy:

I selected this project because technology is such an important element in it. Students have ownership of the project from the very beginning stages right through to the end productions.  After deciding on a research question, students write their own survey, they decide how to send the survey out, collect and analyze the results, and decide how to display and share their results. They use language skills, math skills, and technology as tools for their project. They have a desire and a need to know how to do things. The technology enables students to reach a wider range of people for their survey. It also allows them to send the results of their survey electronically.  Using the Internet, e-mail, fax machines,and computer word processing allows the students to see real world applications for these tools. The main goal of the project is for students to become more independent problem solvers.


Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education ModelComponents Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html

Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

During the taped lesson, the students worked on several components of the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model. When they were discussing the results of the magazine survey showing Hermonie as the favorite character of those who had responded to the magazine's survey, they were assessing the usefulness of the information by inferring, filtering information,reflecting, evaluating information, and comparing and contrasting it with the information from their own surveys. When the students went to the computer lab to process data from the returned surveys, they were using the Information Processing phase of Communication. They were organizing information for presentation, selecting an appropriate Communication format, applying information to answer a question they had proposed, and finding ways to share their new knowledge through selected formats. The entire lesson reflected the principle of Active Involvement. The students were actively involved in all phases of the project. They had to come up with their own solutions and find heir own ways to interpret and present their findings. The lesson was a series of events that enabled the students to process and communicate information dealing with their research questions. The MathLanguage ArtsEssential Learnings and Technology goals were intertwined in the process of data interpretation and analysis.

Student Characteristics:

This project was carried out by the fourth/fifth grade multi-age classroom. Because this is the second year for the fifth graders, they were able to draw upon their research experiences from the previous year. They had already had success with a project researching left/right handedness. They were able to assist their fourth grade learning partners. Each cooperative group has both fourth and fifth graders in it.

Evolution of the Activity:

In August, each student came to school with a research question in mind. These were shared and a class research question was decided upon. The students started out small with one question. "What is the average reader of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling like?"  They then made plans to find out the answer to this question. The project has evolved since then and will continue to grow and change till their final presentations sometime in April, 2001.

(Learning activity format adapted from National EducationalTechnology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)