So, What's the Plot of this Box?

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SWBAT display data using a box plot as well as use box plot to analyze data.

Big Idea

Box Plots: The gist of the story behind the data.

Curriculum Reinforcer

10 minutes

Students will complete 3 questions to review previous concepts taught in units 1 through 5. The curriculum reinforcer, is a daily practice piece that is incorporated into almost every lesson to help my students to retain skills and conceptual understanding from earlier lessons. My strategy is to use Spiraled Review to help my students retain what they learned during the earlier part of the year. This will help me to keep mathematical concepts fresh in the students mind so that the knowledge of these concepts become a part of students' long term memories.


10 minutes

Students will complete the first section of the box plot task that is attached to this section of this lesson using cubes and sticky notes.

This task has students grab as many unifix cubes as they can and then record that number. The students get to stand up and move around according to the number of cubes they were able to grab. They will have to line up in order and then figure out which students make up the five number summary.

This is a great way for students to conceptualize the idea of box plots. While completing this task the students should be introduced to or review the following:

  • Median
  • 1st Quartile
  • 3rd Quartile
  • Maximum (Upper Extreme)
  • Minimum (Lower Extreme)
  • 50% of the data
  • Interquartile range
  • Data quadrants
  • 25%- 25% - 25% - 25%
  • Range

 There are other parts to this task that can be used at later dates or be incorporated into this lesson. Click on the attachment and take a look. It is a great task.

Instruction & Teacher Modeling

10 minutes

The opening exercise will be used to provide instruction as to how to create a box plot and, as to how a box plot compares to a dot plot/line plot, as well as, to teach the vocabulary necessary to understand this concept (i.e. upper extreme, lower extreme, median, 1st quartile, and 3rd quartile).

During the instructional portion of this lesson, the students will learn how to create a box plot and they will also learn how to calculate to figure out the interquartile range of a data set. Furthermore, I will teach my students the significance of the interquartile range. By the end of this lesson, they will understand that the interquartile range tells us where the middle 50% of the data lies on the number line. They will also understand that a box plot provide us with knowledge as to the overall shape of the data. It gives us an indication as to where data cluster might be as well as possible outliers. 

Attached to this portion of this lesson there is a picture of a box plot being compared to a dot plot. This picture displays the box plot while labeling and explaining all of its different parts. During this time, I will display this picture on the digital projector but, I will also provide each of my students with a handout of this picture so that they can use it for study purposes. It is very important that the student know and understand the different parts of the box plot.

Also attached to this portion of this lesson is a video that describes how to create dot plots, histograms, and box plots. This video also highlights the characteristics of these three data displays. It is a resource that helps to determine those elements of the data display that students should definitely know.

Try It Out

5 minutes

To try out this concept, students will be guided through the process of creating a box plot as well as what each part of the box plot tells them, using the following data sets:


Data Set #1

8, 13, 9, 4, 1, 6, 2, 2, 14, 6, 9, 11


Data Set #2

45, 38, 53, 29, 28, 31, 44, 40, 25


I will guide the students through data set #1 and then, the students will try data set #2 on their own.

I will be checking to see which students are struggling with this concept so that I can pull them into a small group that I will lead, in order to ensure that they fully understand this concept before they leave for the day.

Independent Exploration

20 minutes

Students will complete two short worksheets during the independent exploration part of this lesson. Successful completion of these worksheets show that students know how to create a box plot when given a set of data. That they understand the different parts of a box plot. Successful completion will also show that the students understand how box plots apply to real world context.

Closing Summary

15 minutes

Students will exchange and grade papers.  As a group we will discuss the most commonly missed problems. Students will analyze why those problems were missed the most and discuss their thinking pertaining to their analysis with the entire class.


TOTD: As a ticket out the door, students will need to write down the different parts to a box plot and describe what the different parts tell us about the data.