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    Median
    By Elaine

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    With my 4th graders, whenever possible we begin a math investigations by doing something concrete -- hands-on. For finding median, we use interlocking cubes (but you could use stacks of non-interlocking as well) to show how many of something we have.
    For example make a stack of cubes to represent:
    how many people in your family
    how many pencils in your desk
    how many pets you have
    how many blocks you live from school, etc.
    Then in order to find the median we line up in order from least to greatest (left to right) and find the exact middle person. We talk about how the middle person gives us information about what is typical for whichever numerical data we are investigating. Be sure to demonstrate examples using an even number of pieces of data and an odd number of pieces of data so students can see how that works.

    After doing several of these types of lining up, counting to the middle, discussing that median shows us what's typical, then you can move to a paper and pencil method for finding median, always emphasizing the importance of putting the data in order from least to greatest before finding the exact middle.

    As far as connecting median to something relevant, think of some things that we make decisions about based on what we've come to believe is typical for certain situations.
    For example:
    vacation plans may be based on typical weather patterns, temperature or rainfall, etc.
    expectations for sporting event outcomes may determine whether fans turn out (or bet on a game! I am stretching here!)
    after collecting and analyzing data to determine what's typical about an athlete, coaches can make decisions on where to place a play, when to send a player in or take one out, etc.
    Hopefully you are getting the idea because I'm running out of things that make sense.

    One thing to remember is that median is just one kind of average -- just one way to look at what's typical. It may not give as good a picture of what usually happens as mean or mode but it is still worth considering. I hope some of this makes sense to you. Need anything more -- just post. Good luck and have fun!

    Do math, and you can do anything!
    Elaine




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