Statistics Gone Bad

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Students will be able to determine whether a statistical statement or graph is accurate.

Big Idea

No one likes to be tricked. Students explore the methods used in statistics to trick people.

Warm Up

5 minutes

I include warm ups with a rubric as part of my daily routine. My goal is to allow students to work on Math Practice 3 each day. Grouping students into homogeneous pairs provides an opportunity for appropriately differentiated math conversations. This lesson’s Warm Up- Statistics Gone Bad, asks students to evaluate the accuracy of a statistical chart. This problem sets the tone for the day's lesson by getting students writing and talking about inaccuracies in statistics.

Class Discussion

15 minutes

Today's goal is to set the stage for this statistics unit by focusing on thoughtful interpretation and analysis of statistical information.  We will begin by analyzing five graphs or statements for misleading or inaccurate information (Math Practice 3).  For each slide, I do a think pair share. 

I think one of the most engaging topics in this lesson is "The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) shows arrests of juvenile females for assaults and violent crime from 1980 through 2003 rose from 20 percent to more than 30 percent of the total".  This seems scary and dramatic until you look at the addition facts related to this information which can be found at the live science website.

So often, people are presented with statistics that misrepresent the truth by not representing all of it.  What a powerful lesson for students to learn and a perfect introduction into our statistics unit.  Uncovering misleading statistics will be an ongoing theme throughout the remainder of this unit.    

Group Activity

25 minutes

Now that the students have had some experience looking at some misleading statistics, they will work with their partner to find the errors in 15 additional charts and statements.  My students are already placed into partners that are rearranged each unit.  I ask that they write down the mistake or error as well as a potential solution if there is one.  The goal of this activity is to re-access some of their prior knowledge of statistics as well as get them thinking critically (Math Practice 2).  

While they work, I pass out a note card on which they write their own and their partner's names.  After 15 minutes, we come back together as a class.  I collect the note cards and use them to randomly pick pairs to share their analysis of each graph or statement (Math Practice 3). Depending on the motivation of the class, I may attach points to this share out.  After each group shares their problem, I open the class for questions.  I ask my students to keep strictly to questions rather than just sharing their own opinion.  This requires a bit more thinking on the part both the presenters and the listeners, as well as reveals multiple ideas for each problem.  For example, rather than saying, " I think ____ is happening," they would need to say "What do you think about _______?"

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

I use an exit ticket each day to provide a quick formative assessment to judge the success of the lesson.  

Today's Exit Ticket asks the students to list the methods that are used to mislead people with statistics.  This lets me know how well students understood some of these issues.