Before the lesson begins, ask another teacher to have his or her
students write their first names on index cards so your students can
use the data to make graphs. If the other teacher wishes, arrange for a
time for your class to share the graphs and statistics with that
To begin the lesson, ask your students to write their first
names on index cards. Then help them to collect the cards, sort them by
the number of letters in the name, and make a line plot with the actual
cards. Ask a volunteer to draw the line plot on the board using Xs.
Then ask the class what the line plot should be labeled [for example,
"The Length of Our First Names"]. Call on a volunteer to tell what the
mode is. Call on other volunteers to name the range and to find the
median and the mean. Ask them which "average" best describes the
data—the mean, the median, or the mode.
Now tell the class they will use the data from the other class to
make another line plot. Distribute the cards to the students and have
each student count the number of letters in the names on the index
card(s) he or she has been given. After the students have done so, draw
a line on the board for the model line plot, and distribute copies of
the Line Plot Format to the students.
Call on each student in turn to tell how many letters is on his
or her card(s). As each number is called, place an X in the correct
place on the line plot. Encourage your students to simultaneously
complete their individual line plots. Now ask the students to find the
range and mode of the data. Then ask them to determine the mean. Ask
the students to report the statistics that they calculated.
Now display the line plot from your class and the line plot from the
other class, side by side. Ask them to compare the line plots in as
many ways as they can. Call on volunteers to describe any similarities
and differences they see. [If they do not mention the range, mean,
median, and mode, prompt these responses.]
Next, ask the students to go to their computers, or use the
projection feature from your own computer (depending on the setup of
Go to the National Library of Virtual Manipulative's Pie Chart.
Call on a volunteer to enter the data for the class name lengths, and
another to sketch the pie chart on the board. Then print the electronic
chart. Repeat the procedure for the data from the other class. Now ask
students to compare the two pie charts and then to compare the pie
charts with the line plots.
It would also be appropriate to tell students that another name for
a pie chart is a circle graph, so they are familiar with the
Conclusion of Lesson
To conclude the lesson, ask the students to write in their math
journals or on a piece of paper two similarities and two differences
they found between the data from the two classes. Encourage them to
share their findings with the others in the class. Then collect the
papers for the students' unit portfolios. (If the teacher of the other
class requested that the data be shared, discuss a time when the class
can show the graphs and describe what they found with that class.)