Lesson 5 Sam and the newspaper

Sam and the newspaper

Overview Resources
Pupils explore the hypothesis that ‘the older you are the longer the words you normally read’ by collecting real-life data on lengths of words and handle issues of the representative sample.
pupils reconsider the original hypothesis for revision or recasting. Potentials (optional)
and limits of viewing the world mathematically are discussed.
Worksheets 1-4
Newspaper article
Aims Curriculum links
  • Promote a coherent practical approach to data handling in real-life settings,
  • Promote a critical view of the appropriateness of statistics.
  • Deciding on a representative sample,
  • Collecting and organising data,
  • Analysing data,
  • Reviewing the original hypothesis.
    Collecting data for comparison
    Starting with a discussion about ‘long’ and ‘short’ words, the class should decide to test the hypothesis that ‘the older you are, the longer the words you read! Agreeing on what ‘length of word’ means, they compare two texts, one for 6-year-olds, the other from an adult newspaper.

    The teacher records data generated by pupils for a 20-word sample on one side of a two-sided tally table. This models how tallying is done with equal spacing to show the profile, so that the patterns, e.g.the spread and the mode, are visible. The pupils then make predictions about the sample from a newspaper and work on their own to record the newspaper data on the second side of the table. They make comparisons, recognising that there may be unexpected results.
    Looking at sample size
    The class considers possible reasons for the results, and realises they need to have other or larger samples from the two texts, They work collaboratively on 80 words from each text, split amongst the class. They then discuss their findings, recognising differences and similarities between samples, both as visible distribution on the tally tables and as number values for the mode and spread or range.
    Comparing and combining samples
    The pupils now methodically compare their three samples in a table of values for mode, spread and other features (e.g. extreme cases and double modes). They combine the three samples into one 100-word sample and look at the visual features of that, looking at the advantage of each mode of representation.

    They end with wide-scope reflection on the appropriateness of the hypothesis, the test, and the samples.


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