We’re about half-way through a basic stats unit in my 9th grade class, with a quiz tomorrow on standard deviation and the normal distribution. I need one last class example to have students compare and contrast data sets by looking at their centers and variability. A morning brainstorm turned into a fun exploration of my students’ personalities. 3 groupings were shown my back whiteboard:

- EXTROVERTS
- MIDDLE
- INTROVERTS

After a brief discussion of what it means to be introverted or extroverted, and doing my best to steer discussion away from any negative connotations, I asked students to self-identify and move to a corner of the room based on where they see themselves. To clean up things some, I told them to arrange themselves so that we had exactly 8 introverts and 8 extroverts, with everyone else in the middle. Some adjusting then took place, as we agreed on who belonged in which group.

Now for the data collection aspect. I had each student approach the back board and write their signature in the appropriate column. This is where the fun began – as my introverts calmly waited for their peers to write their names and move away, the extroverts fought over markers and board space. As students sat down after contrubiting their signature, some noticed immediately what was happening :

After all names were written, and we had a good laugh over the clear differences in the categories, we needed some data. Each student approached the board and measured the height of a name at its tallest point, recording to the nearest tenth of a centimeter. Tonight’s homework is then to compute the standard devation “by hand” for one of the groups, and comment on differences. My old friend the Nspire App is helpful here to show the clear difference between the introverts and the extroverts:

Using authentic data in class matters, as kids more readily discuss what they see and are generally more eager to dig deeper into a problem. This was a fun way to culminate the first half of our stats unit.

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