Five Number Summary

When I was in college I remember doing a handful of very interactive pre-algebra and algebra lessons. The professors took us through activities as if we were kids to help students grasp the concept.  These professors included the likes of Dr. Dan Canada and Dr. Diane Dowd (and to an extent my master's professor Dr. Bob Drake -though it was online courses).

The education I received was an undergraduate in education; far different than the common place in getting a masters in teaching. In fact only two schools on the west coast have these four year programs - Eastern Washington University and University of Portland.  These programs have a strong focus on how to teach as well as the content vs. learning content then quickly going through a student teaching experience to receive a masters.  If I was an admin. I would automatically place anyone with a 4 year teaching degree into my interview pile purely based on the differences in how the programs are run.

Anyway back to math. An activity we completed was the human 5 number summary.  We arranged ourselves by height then found the Maximum, Minimum, Median, Quartile 1, and Quartile 3.  Here you can quickly see that a 5 number summary divides the data into 25% groupings and the power of the report for representing all facts of the data.

I have done this activity with my students since then.  The first time I tried it on my own I was baffled by whether or not students learned anything, but quickly realized they did when it showed in their explanations of their work. It also was one of their favorite activities at the end of year summary students would state I liked the five number summary because I got to be the maximum because I was the tallest, etc.

I completed the activity again today 4 years since the first time I tried, and though much better organized my math support kiddos quickly worked through the problem.  Pre-teaching these concepts to these students builds their confidence for regular math and the activities we do it math boost they frequently ask if we can do them in regular math. That alone is an attention "getter" for me that shows they enjoyed the activity and were engaged.


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