What's the Frequency Kenneth? Summarizing Data with Frequency Tables

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SWBAT interpret and create frequency tables in context, including joint, marginal and conditional relative frequencies.

Big Idea

Students will answer REM’s question by creating and interpreting frequency tables as another tool to organize and understand data!

Entry Ticket

10 minutes

Student will complete an entry ticket where they have to complete a free write (Entry Ticket: What's the Frequency (Table) Kenneth?) to elicit their understanding of the term “frequency.”

I will play REM’s song "What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” during the entry ticket. (I find that playing music in my classroom at a low level during independent work tends to help students focus.)

After a few minutes of independent work, I have students Turn and Talk  with a partner and then have each pair share their ideas with the class.

This entry ticket provides a good opportunity for all students to engage and participate in the conversation as it asks for their perspective on a vocabulary term and they can bring in different representations of the word that may help their peers better understand the term and main idea of the lesson.

Academic Vocabulary:


Relative frequency

Marginal frequency

Joint frequency

Conditional frequency

*Note: place academic vocabulary on word wall as a strategy to assist students in learning academic vocabulary. 



Explicit Instruction and Active Note-Taking

30 minutes

After the entry ticket, I will review a Powerpoint presentation on frequency tables (PowerPoint: Frequency Tables). After completing examples with students, I ask my students to complete a number of Turn and Talks  (see strategy folder for more information).

During this time students are actively engaged in the discussion, taking Two Column Notes and interacting with the material through the language domains of listening, reading, speaking and writing. 



Collaborative Work and/or Exit Ticket: Frequency Tables

15 minutes

After reviewing examples, I have students complete the Collaborative Work and/or Exit Ticket: What's the Frequency (Table) Kenneth? independently to assess their understanding of the day’s lesson.

Alternatively, the assignment can be utilized as group work. This provides students with another opportunity to work collaboratively in a small group setting on the day's learning objectives.

This particular ticket to leave asks students to differentiate and identify the appropriate type of relative frequency used to create the table/survey on Pepsi and Coca-Cola and focuses on the Math Practice standard MP.6 as students must tend to precision in order to interpret the table correctly.

In addition, students are asked to organize their ideas and write a well developed paragraph. See the strategy folder for more information on the Idea Organizer and Writing in Math.

Our City Statistics Project + Homework - Creating Frequency Tables

40 minutes

To conclude today's lesson I have students work in groups on their collaborative project: Our City Statistics Project Overview

For more information on the project assignment and expectations, see the Project: Our City Statistics Assignment Sheet.


For this particular working session of the project, I recommend that students work on creating a frequency table that is part of the requirements of the group project. To facilitate this process, I ask students to think about their data and decide what type of frequency table would best communicate their research findings to other people. I give each group about 5 minutes to discuss this. Each group then identifies what type of frequency table they are going to create and, more importantly why. Having each group share focuses on MP.3 as students are asked to navigate a group setting and work collaboratively to create and critique mathematical decisions and arguments. It would be helpful to be bale to let each group use one computer to create the frequency table.

As an alternative each group can make a table by hand and them assign one person in the group to type up the table at home (and that person could get a homework pass for the night’s homework in exchange for the group work). In this way, students are offered an opportunity to independently practice the day’s concepts in a meaningful context (group project).

For homework, students create a frequency table and respond to the following prompt: 1. Create a raw and relative frequency table for the vowels and consonants (and total letters) in your name and for the letters in the name of a friend or family member. 2. Identify the marginal, joint and conditional frequencies in the tables. This homework assignment makes the concept relevant to each student, provides some flexibility and also assesses student understanding of the material. For the relative frequency I look to see if students include an explanation of what the frequencies are relative to (type of letter, person, or total). The assignment also ties nicely into Math Practice standard MP.8 as the homework asks students to look for regularity in repeated reasoning when working with frequency tables.