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Interpreting Statistics: A Case of Muddying the Waters
  • Introduction: Mathematical Goals
    • This lesson unit is intended to help you assess how well students are able to:

      1. Interpret data and evaluate statistical summaries.
      2. Critique someone else's interpretations of data and evaluations of statistical summaries.

      The lesson also introduces students to the dangers of misapplying simple statistics in real-world contexts, and illustrates some of the common abuses of statistics and charts found in the media.

  • Formative Assessment Task : Muddying the Waters
    • Students are presented a scenario concerned with river pollution and its effect on the environment. They interpret a scatter chart that shows a relationship between the percentage of visitors at the River Center and the concentration of chemical in the river.

      Students take on roles in an inquiry into a pollution problem and explore the application, interpretation, communication, and possible misrepresentation of statistics and charts.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practices Common Core State Standards for Content

      This lesson involves a range of mathematical practices from the standards, with emphasis on:

      1. Construct viable arguments, and critique the reasoning of others.
      2. Model with mathematics.

      This lesson involves mathematical content in the standards from across the grades, with emphasis on the following Domain.Cluster:

      • S-ID: Summarize, represent, and interpret data on two categorical and quantitative variables.
      • S-ID: Interpret linear models.
      • S-IC: Make inferences and justify conclusions from sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies.
  • Lesson Structure
    • This lesson unit is structured in the following way:

      • Before the lesson, students work individually on a task that is designed to reveal their current understandings and difficulties. You review their work and create some questions that will help them to improve their solutions.
      • During the lesson,
        • At the start of the lesson, students role-play a scene that provides the background to the lesson task.
        • Next, students work in small groups on a collaborative discussion task. They extract information from evidence and critically assess how it was gathered and presented.
        • Whole class discussion.
      • After the lesson, students again work individually on a new task. This has similar content to the original task, allowing them to demonstrate the progress they have made during the lesson.
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