Probability and Data Analysis Lesson Plan: What Are the Chances?

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this probability and data analysis lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students review these skills throughout a unit of study. Students then create a paper-based or digital activity that challenges classmates to apply data analysis, graphing, and/or probability skills to fictitious or real-world situations.

Students will:

  1. Review probability skills learned throughout a unit of study.
  2. Select a real-world situation in which data analysis and/or probability skills can provide insight into a topic and help predict outcomes.
  3. Create a paper-based or digital activity that challenges classmates to apply data analysis, graphing, and/or probability skills to the selected real-world situation.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Materials for creating their activities (poster board, markers, graphing paper, or whatever other items you would like students to use)

Preparation:

Preview the movies in the Probability and Data Analysis units and select the ones that are appropriate for your students and the current unit of study. The activities below can serve as practice, review, and/or assessment.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show one of the movie topics in the Probability or Data Analysis unit that is most closely related to your current topic of study.
  2. Tell students that they will create a game for their classmates that encourages them to think deeply about probability and/or data analysis. They may want their classmates to research a topic and calculate the odds of a particular outcome. Ideas for topics include: election outcomes, hurricane or other natural disaster track prediction, the amount of money a movie/album/book will gross based on other sales in the genre, stock market predictions, and so on.
  3. Divide students into groups/pairs or allow them to self-select groups, and then use the BrainPOP topics in the Probability and Data Analysis Unit to research the skill or concept they chose. Encourage students to explore the FYI features to learn more and get ideas for their activity.
  4. Students should then create their activity proposal, explaining how the activity will work and the math skills it will incorporate.The activity should should challenge their classmates to apply data analysis, graphing, and/or probability skills to the fictitious or real-world situation they selected and solve an interesting problem. Encourage students to use graphing paper, calculators, websites, etc. to create their game.
  5. Have each group of students present their proposals to the class or to another group for feedback and assistance in refining their topic and activity.
  6. Ask students to turn in their final proposals to you for approval. Help students clarify their objectives and procedure as needed.
  7. Give students time in class to create their activity, test it out, and then turn their activity in for you to check.
  8. Allow students to try out one another's activities during upcoming class periods. Each group of students should complete an assessment form for the activity or write a comment summary giving constructive feedback on how well the activity worked, how enjoyable it was, and how much it helped them understand the topic and practice their math skills.
  9. After students have tried a variety of activities, allow each group of students to read the feedback they received about their own activity. Students should then self-reflect: What was successful about the activity? What would they improve?