I begin class by asking the students to take out their histograms from last night. We immediately make a list of Know’s/N2K’s on the board to drive our instruction for the period (actually, the next several periods). Students (as previously instructed) have likely left a few of the lines on the chart blank such as standard deviation, 1st Quartile, and 3rd Quartile. We place these under our N2K heading. The students likely did not have any issues with the mean, median, mode, or sample size rows on the data chart.
To prompt students further in this discussion, I ask them what they notice about the shape of their histograms? Ultimately, the students should arrive at the conclusion that they are shaped similar to a bell curve. I then ask the students: “What does this mean?” Usually, they can piece together that there are a few people who finished really early or really late (our outliers) and A LOT of people who finished in the middle.
As I look to take this discussion a step further, I ask the students if they can think of any other real life scenarios that might fit the bell curve. The students usually do really well with this and it is neat to watch them come up with idea after idea! Drawing a bell curve on the board can help the students think critically about the question.
Once we begin to wrap up our discussion, I ask the students if they know what the bell curve SOUNDS like? This leads me to the microwave at the front of the room! (Make sure the principal is ok with you cooking in your classroom!) As we transition to the activity, I hand out the What does the Bell Curve SOUND like? Worksheet.