Last month I shared this post about teaching data and graphing in upper elementary, but I didn’t touch on data sets and teaching mean, median, mode, and range. Mean, median, and mode are important data concepts for students to understand. Not only are these data skills so applicable in real life, but there are so many amazingly relevant activities you can do with them to engage students. Here’s a look at my anchor chart, hands-on practice activities, and a free assessment I use for this math unit.
We start our mean, median, and mode unit with an anchor chart created together as a class exploring the different types of data sets. Before I even start, we discuss why it’s important to organize data and create a small chart of ways that we can organize and interpret data. This is often a review for students, but it’s good to get them thinking about different data arrangements.
Instead of having students copy the anchor chart, I made these printable mean, median, and mode teaching posters and interactive notebook templates for students to use during our introductory lesson. These save a lot of time and still serve as valuable reference tools in our math notebooks.
Mean, Median, and Mode Math Notebooks
Recently, I’ve also been using flip books as an interactive notebook alternative. Instead of having students copy or glue the anchor chart into their notebooks, this mean, median, and mode flipbook acts as a mini interactive notebook. The left hand side of each page acts as a mini anchor chart that students interact with and complete to focus on learning the topic. On the right hand side, students engage in practicing finding mean, median, mode and range in multiple different ways using number sets and real-world scenarios. It’s a fun, new format that mixes things up and keeps students engaged instead of always doing things the same way!
Mean, Median, and Mode Center Activities
Next we move on to practice activities in our math rotations. If you’re new to math workshop, you can read more about how I set up our math rotations here.
If you’re allowed to use food items, then this oreo stacking contest is a fun (and often competitive!) way to collect data. Students stack Oreos to make a tower, collect data on how tall their towers get, and then use that data to practice data management like mean, median, mode, and range. For extra practice, you can also use the data to make a line graph! My students eat this one up (no pun intended)!
Differentiated Practice with a Gradebook
This real-world mean, median, mode and range activity puts students in charge of a math teacher's gradebook! Students will use mean, median, mode and range to help a teacher ‘fix' her gradebook which accidentally erased when her computer crashed! It includes two versions included for easy scaffolding or enrichment. Simply assign the most relevant version to each group of students in their weekly rotations! This is one of my favorites because it helps them truly understand how we are calculating their grades.
Even More Ideas
This mean, median, and mode bundle is full of more hands-on activities and task cards for your centers! In addition to the mini posters and gradebook activity above, it also has error analysis tasks, a real-world shopping activity, and practice with Skittles too (always a student favorite).
Free Mean, Median, and Mode Assessment
I end our data set unit with this free cumulative activity. You can use all of the pages or assign specific pages to groups of students for more differentiation. Skills covered:
- General mean, median, mode, and range review with whole numbers / whole number answers.
- Decimal calculations where several questions require students to divide by two to find the median.
- An enrichment or extension activity suitable for all ability levels