Monday, 5 October 2015

Bringing Data Handling to Life

It's important for children to discover real life implications for the mathematical learning they do. 

When it comes to data handling, too often children know HOW to calculate the range, mode, median and mean (average) simply because they have done it so often in their schooling history.

But, when we ask WHY would we ever need or want to calculate them, the sound of crickets can often be heard chirping in the classroom. 

Then ask, what does the average actually mean and the tumbleweed can easily be envisioned blowing across the room. 

Maths learning needs to revolve around the WHYs instead of the dominating HOWS. 

To help us bring data handling to real life and to discover what it really means when we calculate the average (mean, range, mode and median) we took our learning outside.   In groups of 5, we timed ourselves sprinting across the football pitch and then again but this time running backwards. 

After collecting the times of all our classmates, groups brainstormed what things we could do with the data and then made the calculations. 

Some groups decided to analyse the data for each group's recorded times and some took their thinking further by also analysing the data for the entire class.

We then grouped together and used the think-pair-share strategy to determine what the average (mean) actually does mean.   Varied responses and quite a few light bulb moments flashed as kids gained a real understanding of what the average tells us.

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