When doing statistics units with grade 9's I used to assign them to conduct
a survey and bring in the results so the class could find mean, median and
mode, construct histograms and produce graphs. It was often frustrating if
the students didn't do their homework or collected such a small survey that
trends weren't noticeable. Using data from databases was one solution but
it usually didn't hold their attention.
The solution for me has been to collect data from class members as an in-class activity. This produces thirty-two answers (if there are two classes the data can be pooled) to assorted questions, carefuly chosen to ensure that some data will be categorical, some will provide integer results and some will offer continuous results. At the same time I include some questions that require students to get out of their seats and cooperate with others in groups, such as counting situps, timing pulses, and measuring jumps. This has made the activity a favorite with my students.
As you can see from the table below, I write three questions in 8 groups, A to H - one a categorical question such as "What's your favorite animal?", one such as "How many phones do you have?" that will produce integer answers, and one such as "How many centimeters can you jump?" that produces continuous data. I divide the class into eight groups of four and call them A, B, C, .... H. Each student answers all 24 questions. Group A is then given all the answers to the questions in section A, Group B gets the answers in B, and so forth.
This unit usually takes three classes to complete, and lends itself nicely to spreadsheet and group work. The first day we collect the data; the second day the students work in their groups on their graphs, charts and calculations; and the third day is for presentations.
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