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Eye to Eye

  • Lesson
Data Analysis and Probability
Location: Unknown

Students learn to pose mathematical questions about themselves and their surroundings through class. They gather data about eye color from their classmates and another class within their school. They organize this data to answer questions.

The lesson consists of four segments: Launching the Lesson, Conducting the Lesson, Assessing Student Understanding of the Lesson, and Extending the Lesson. This is a two-day lesson. Activities each day should take approximately 45 minutes.

Launching the Lesson

This segment of the lesson can be used to capture students' interest and provide a preview of the main lesson. It is best conducted in a community area, such as the class rug. Start the lesson by displaying magazine photographs of people’s eyes. Ask students to share ways that eyes are different from person to person. Be prepared for students to share disabilities, such as blindness or a glass eye. Accept all appropriate responses. Emphasize that no two people’s eyes are the same and that eye color is one way eyes can differ. Ask if anyone knows what the colored part of the eye is called iris. Next, have the students brainstorm the different eye colors. Students may give answers other than blue, brown, and green, such as black or red. Explain that all eyes are a variant of blue, brown, or green although they may reflect other colors (i.e. red-eye in photographs). List the three colors on chart paper for student reference.

Tell the students that they will be collecting data on eye color. Encourage students to pose questions they might answer with this data. Record all the questions students generate. For example, questions may include:

  • What color is the most common among the class?
  • What is the most common color for boys?
  • What is the most common color for girls?

Day 1

overhead Eye Color Graph Overhead 

746 eye to eye

Place the Eye Color Graph in the front of the classroom with glue sticks. Inform students that they will use this graph to organize information about their eye color. Distribute the Eye Color Activity Sheet.

pdficon Eye Color Activity Sheet 

Instruct students to color in their eye color, cut out the eye, and paste it in the correct row on the Eye Color Graph when they are finished. Circulate around the classroom with the mirror so that students can determine their eye color.

Share data with the class. Discuss which of the student-generated questions can be answered with the data. Ask students if they could reorganize the data to answer other questions. For example, to answer the questions a)What is the most common color for boys? b)What is the most common color for girls? the class could have made one graph for boys and one graph for girls. Ask students if there are any other questions they could answer with the data. How many more students have brown eyes than green eyes? 

Day 2  

Explain that each student will be matched up with another student from a participating class of the same grade. They will be collecting data on the eye color of that student. They will repeat the data collection process used previously. Using the list of all the questions formulated the day before, the class should decide on one question that will be used to guide the collection of data. Solicit student input to create a graph that organizes the data to answer the selected question.

You will have made prior arrangements with another class from your grade to conduct this inquiry. Students will gather data on the eye color of their partner and return to the classroom to color in the eye color of the student they surveyed using the Eye Color Activity Sheet. After students color and cut out the eye representing their partner, they organize their data on the appropriate graph.

Assessing Student Understanding  

After everyone has had time to display the data collected, have the students join together in a circle and discuss the data gathered from the other class. Use the data to answer the question posed. Now you can compare the two data sets and ask additional questions. Which class had more blue eyes? How many more did they have? Is the same eye color most common in both classes? Ask students to summarize their findings to present, along with the graphs from each class, to the “buddy” classroom. Use chart paper to record the students’ summary in a class letter.

  • Several face shots from magazines (focusing on eyes)
  • Chart paper
  • Class-sized Eye Color Graph
  • 3 glue sticks
  • Blue, brown, and green crayons or markers
  • Scissors (1 per child)
  • Eye Color Activity Sheet 
  • Compact mirror
  • A "buddy" classroom with cooperating teacher

Assessment Option 

Assessment should be ongoing during each lesson. The questions you ask will help you determine if the students understand the concepts. Checking for understanding by recording students’ responses during class discussions onto chart paper. As you record student-generated questions and summary statements, use a pencil to discreetly write student names next to their contributions. Also, make a note of students’ use of data to respond to questions. You may want to tape record the class discussions first and write this information in your records at a later time.


  1. Look up a site that contains an illustrated picture of the human eye. Share different terms and research for more information about the parts of the eye.
  2. Have students look up the most common eye color.
  3. Give students blank bar graphs or circle graphs (with appropriate labels) and ask them to represent the data collected in the alternate format. Have students compare the different types of graphs.
746 eye color charts

Questions for Students 

During the first part of this lesson: 

1. What did we find out from our data?

The most common color for our class is blue.

2. What questions could we not answer with the data collected?

How many girls have green eyes?

After the data has been collected from the other class: 

3. Did the data collected match the question asked?

[Responses will depend upon the actual data.]

4. What color was the most common for their class?

[Responses will depend upon the actual data.]

5. Does the data from our partner class match the data collected for the most common color from our class?

[Responses will depend upon the actual data.]

6. If there are (#) students in our school, how many students do you think have (the most common color) eyes?

[Responses will depend upon the actual data.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Did students achieve the objectives for this lesson? What evidence supports this claim?
  • What additional experiences do students need to be successful with this activity?
  • Were students able to explain their reasoning in a clear and logical manner?
  • What new vocabulary did students use that might need to be reinforced in the next lesson?
  • Were directions in the lessons clear and usable by students? If not what adjustments would be appropriate for me to make?
  • What additional extensions/experiences would be appropriate?

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Formulate questions that can be addressed with data.
  • Collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer questions.
  • Analyze data to answer questions.
  • Develop an understanding of the purpose of data collection and the use of data.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Pose questions and gather data about themselves and their surroundings.
  • Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs.
  • Describe parts of the data and the set of data as a whole to determine what the data show.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

Grade 1, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4
    Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.