Beacon Unit Plan Library
Data, Detectives and Decisions
Lisa Ove Gibson
Beacon Learning Center (Bay District Schools)
Data, Detectives and Decisions involves students in mathematical problem-solving processes. Faced with the dilemma, “How much time should the average fifth-grade student spend on homework to make good grades?” students begin generating, collecting, organizing, and displaying data to show representative samples of male/female students, and teachers on the subject. Students determine the range and measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) from sets of data, and use these measures to identify patterns and relationships in the data. During the process, students face and answer questions such as, “Which types of graphs are appropriate for the different kinds of data?” and “How are the different statistical measures (range and measures of central tendency) used to interpret the data?” Students use the skills and processes learned during class in a simulated statistical journey called Collecting Clues and Analyzing Answers. Students' reflections are recorded in a Detective Diary. (An optional oral presentation is included with this unit with coordinating Language Arts extensions.)
1. How much time should the average fifth-grade student spend on homework to make good grades?
2. Which types of graphs are appropriate for the different kinds of data?
3. How are the different statistical measures (range and measures of central tendency) used to interpret the data?
The planned duration of this activity is 12 days.
Opening the Case
This is an introduction to the unit Data, Detectives and Decisions. Students are taught how to design an experiment and use graphs and statistics to help solve a problem. Observing the Evidence
Students discuss ways to choose a representative sample of a large group in order to answer a class question and learn how to collect the data.Looking for More Clues
Students review how to display collected data on bar and circle graphs.Using Statistics to Uncover More Evidence
Students use statistics to interpret data collected from a representative sample.Closing the Case
Students review the steps for data collection and how to prepare data displays using statistical information from a survey.
Students describe graphs in terms of range, measures of central tendency, and distribution.All That Data, Too!
Students use problem solving steps to find and use the range of a set of data to plan a party.
Arrange a Party
Students find and use the mode of a set of data.
The Party Mode
Students find and use the median of a set of data.
The Party Comedian
Students explore how to use pictographs to find the average for sets of data.
A Party in Review
Students use a calculator to find and use the average, or mean, of a set of data.
The Mean Green Machine
Students use range, mean, median, and mode.
All That Data!