Generating Data and Stats Practice

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Students will complete a survey that generates some great data for upcoming lessons. They will also practice solving equations, interpreting box plots, creating histograms, and developing a conceptual understanding of mean.

Big Idea

Studying statistics is so engaging when the stats are real, so at the start of today's class, students provide some data that will be used in several upcoming lessons.

Opener: Survey

10 minutes

For today's class we're back in the computer lab, and the first task is for everyone to complete a survey.  The purpose of the survey is to generate data that we'll use over the next couple weeks as the statistics unit proceeds.  You can see the survey by clicking here.  Feel free to enter your answers so you can scroll through it.

In this video narrative, I provide a tour of the survey and I share my thinking behind it.  What's most important to consider is the distinction between real-world data and relevant data.  Over the course of my teaching career, I've often been inclined to stress the real-world application of mathematics because I'd assumed that such application would show students the relevance of math and therefore increase engagement.  The problem is that a great deal of the real world is irrelevant to a high school freshman.  Plenty of what I find fascinating can lay an egg with my kids.  But relevance, whether real-world relevance or otherwise, can be a powerful motivator.  That's why I'm collecting this data today.  In the next few lessons, we'll take a look at the results of these survey questions and use them to learn practice some stats concepts.  Because the data belongs to the kids, it's immediately relevant.

Some of the questions are silly and others really pique the curiosity of my students, which further serves to build some anticipation for checking out these survey results.

Work Time on Delta Math: Choose Your Exercises

30 minutes

When students are done with the survey, they can return to Delta Math, where I've posted four assignments.  Students can choose between:

  • Practice solving linear equations 
  • Practice working with box plots
  • Practice creating frequency tables and histograms
  • Exploring a nifty way to think about mean

For a description of Delta Math, take a look at my introductory lesson from last week.

I love teaching with this tool because it allows me to be useful where the students need me.  Kids don't need me to just tell them if they're right or wrong, because the computer takes care of that.  They don't need me to show them how to do a problem, at least no at first, because they see a work-out solution to every problem they try.  On the other hand, students do need to me to explain how or why a solution strategy works, or why a particular answer was wrong, and these are a particularly useful sort of conversation to have.  

Debrief: What Can Practice Mean?

3 minutes

With a few minutes left in class, I ask for everyone's attention and I make the sales pitch.  There are many reasons that homework can be hit or miss with my kids.  I work steadily to get them to see its value.  Delta Math provides an alternative to paper-and-pencil homework, and I want kids to think about what would happen if they put in some practice time every day, online or not.

"Raise your hand if you feel like you learned something today," I say, and as hands shoot up I ask for kids to shout out what they've learned.  A week ago, a lot kids were frustrated by this site.  Today, they love it.

"Just imagine what would happen if you could spend 20 minutes working on Delta Math every day," I say.  I don't want to sound like an infomercial, but I don't mind if I do, either.  I say that I know it can be difficult to access a computer, but there are steps that everyone can take.  The school library is open before and after school, and city libraries are open afternoons and weekends.  There are computers available in some study halls, and different arrangements can be made with me and resource teachers after school.

"And remember, I'm not asking you to live and breathe math 24/7," I say.  "But just think about what 20 minutes of this sort of practice could do!"