Sunday, January 23, 2011

Adding Meaning to Mean

I had the opportunity to observe a 6th grade math teacher add relevance and meaning to the study of mean, median, mode, and range. She compiled formative assessment data from her four math sections to determine specific concepts to focus on prior to the summative assessment. She used the results to design further instruction, but she also presented and discussed the results with the classes, which helped them better understand the meaning and uses of what they were learning. It also allowed them to analyze the data. The assessment contained twelve questions - three for each concept. The data was organized by listing the percentage of students who correctly answered each question under the concept heading. The class discussed their interpretations of what they saw and were able to accurately infer which questions in each section resulted in the lower scores. For example, they decided that the question involving median that had the most incorrect answers involved an even quantity of numbers in the list. Following the lesson, the teacher displayed business websites containing statistical data and talked about how they use statistics to make business decisions.

This was one great way to answer the most often asked question in math classes - "When am I ever going to use this stuff outside of school?"

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