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Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts 2 - Human Graph

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 27 May 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 25 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts
A collection of memorable mathematics lessons that conference and colloquia delegates had observed or taught which they felt were successful.  Each account refers to one or more of the values and principles in the report.

Lesson Account 2 - Human Graph

Written by Alastair Findlayson
Organisation Northumberland LA
Age/Ability Range Yr 11 (15/16 year olds) Target Grades D – G

How was the session/task introduced?
Students were asked to fill in (measure if necessary) data on height, arm span, shoe size, hand span, distance they lived from school. We went outside and asked students to line up in order of height while I set up axes for a scatter diagram on the grass (written on back of till receipt from school kitchen). I explained that we were going to draw some scatter diagrams together and that all we needed to do was to make sure we stood in the right place! I had already got an IT technician to set up a video at the first floor window to look down on the square space of grass outside: note video needs to be filmed from above. (I had not told students this, but they noticed after a while). Quick revision of median and range while we are standing in line. (Could do box plot with other groups).

How was the session/task sustained?
I explained that the axes displayed height and arm span – and asked for a volunteer to find their position on the scatter diagram. A student stepped forward and walked up and down one axis looking for his height. He then walked up and down the other looking for his arm span. Finally, he walked perpendicular to the arm span axis and found his position. Once the class realised that one boy could do it, they all joined in and found their place. Everyone found their own place on the scatter diagram and we noticed that we were in a rough oval shape – no extremes/outliers.

Some questions were asked in order to develop students’ understanding of the structure of a scatter diagram –

  • “What would he be like if I moved him here?”
  • “What about if I moved her here?”
  • “Why are these 3 girls in a line?”
  • “What or who might go here?” (outliers)

We then changed one axis and repositioned the students as many times as we needed.

With other classes we also use the scatter diagrams to predict data for those students who didn’t manage to fill in all the information on initial sheets.

How was the session/task concluded?
We then went back into the classroom and the IT technician followed us with the video which we play immediately on the whiteboard to support the following learning…

  1. Process of drawing a scatter diagram is shown by one student walking up and down and related to what students need to do on graph paper.
  2. Understanding that one plot on a scatter diagram represents two pieces of data relating to one thing.
  3. Because the video was taken from above, correlation is evident. The video was paused and a line of best fit drawn over the top using the whiteboard software. Correlation is discussed.

Then students were given a matching activity to match scatter diagrams to a definition of correlation and add suggested titles to the axes.

What were the critical moments? 

  • Student getting it right so that others gained confidence.
  • Students’ willingness to partake.
  • Students’ willingness to continue once they realised they were being videoed.

What mathematics was learnt? (on plan and off plan) and what is the evidence of learning?
The process of how to draw scatter diagrams.

  • An understanding of one plot representing two pieces of data.
  • An understanding of correlation / line of best fit / using scatter diagrams to predict other data.
  • An understanding of a change in position on a scatter diagram relating to differences in data.

How was that mathematics learnt?
By actually creating a scatter diagram outside.
Visually through the use of video on the whiteboard. 

Other memorable outcomes
Students were able to apply what they had experienced outside to the process of drawing a scatter diagram on graph paper.

Video (and IT Technician if possible!), till receipts for axes, measuring apparatus for start of lesson.


Downloadable PDF

Click here to download this lesson account in PDF format.

Values & Principles

Conceptual understanding and interpretations for representations
Uses higher-order questions
Uses resources, including technology, in creative and appropriate ways

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Lesson Accounts Introduction

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