Thursday, May 4, 2017

Adding Movement to Math

The 6th grade is diving into the statistics math unit, which is both challenging and exciting for the students. They are given more advanced math vocabulary and concepts that they might not have had any interaction with before this year. The beginning of statistics involves analyzing graphs and describing their spread, center, and shape. At times it may feel like students need to be chained a their desks staring at pictures of graphs and discussing them with their peers. Because this is the base from which these students will launch from once they begin middle school and high school statistics, I felt I needed to make sure that students were making meaningful connections that they could use throughout the rest of their math lives.

We have been working on describing data distributions based on their shape, spread, and center. So I asked the students to pose a statistical question that they wondered about the class. They asked the class,

"How long does it take you to get to school in the morning?"

They decided the time started when you leave your house to when you get to school. They also decided that they would round their answers to the nearest 5 minutes. Then we added movement. Students created a human dot plot on the floor of the classroom. From here they were able to visualize and move to discover information about the distribution of their data.
They were able to:

  • Calculate the median by "crossing off" high and low values until they found the center number 
  • Add their values together and double check their work as they calculated the mean
  • Visualize the shape and spread of the data they had collected
  • Find their absolute deviation from both the mean and the median. 
Human Dot Plot
My original plan was simply to give students and opportunity to visualize these concepts by moving around, but in the end it turned out to be equally about working together, communicating, and problem solving.

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