Math Background

Mean, Median, and Mode: When Students Ask

  • Why do we display data sets in graphs?
    Students will discover the answer to this question when you show them the data set and graph below. Say: The data in the table is displayed in the line graph. Which is easier to use to answer this question: Between which two consecutive times did the temperature decrease the most?
    data set and graph
  • How can I display different kinds of data?
    Use the graphs from the bulletin board described in Tips and Tricks to demonstrate how to decide which type of graph is best for displaying a data set. Explain to students that when you want to show change over time, you display data in a line graph. When you want to compare data, use a bar graph. When you want to show how individual items of data relate to one another, you use a line plot.
  • Why do I need to know about mean, median, and mode?
    Provide students with real-life examples that show how we use these indicators to communicate. For example: “Suppose you are a member of the safety patrol and are trying to convince the traffic department that a stoplight is needed in front of your school. You may succeed in persuading the department to comply with your request if you tell them the mean number of cars per day that fail to stop at the crosswalk in front of the school.”

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 4