Tony's Spelling Troubles
Describe in their own words the situation represented in a bar chart and tally chart
Use a bar chart and tally chart to make sensible predictions.
Interpret information and results in context
This problem is about using statistical data displays to examine a situation and make reasonable statements about it. The students need to understand how to read bar charts and tally charts. They need to see that the information given in the bar chart effects the information shown on the tally chart. From looking at these charts the students should be able to think logically about the situation and draw reasonable conclusions. This problem encourages students to use everyday language to respond to mathematical ideas. Because it is set in a familiar context, students should be able to relate to it and come up with sensible predictions about the data given.
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Tony wanted to become a better speller so he kept a record of the time he spent learning his words each night. He also asked his mum to test him every day and keep a record of the words he got correct.
Tony’s Test Scores
Pretend you are Tony’s ‘Homework Doctor,’ and examine his charts for the last two weeks. What do they tell you about Tony’s homework patterns? Can you think of any advice to give him so he gets all words correct?
- Introduce the problem to the class by having a discussion about their own homework patterns. How they learn their spelling words, what days they do more homework than others. Do they do spelling homework over the weekends etc?
- Hand out copies of the problem with the graphs. Have the students underline any information or words in the problem they think might be important or interesting.
- Have a discussion about what we can find out about Tony from the charts. Questions or statements to use might include:
Look at the bar chart. What days did Tony do the most homework?
Why do you think he did more homework on Thursday nights?
Why do you think he didn’t do homework on Monday nights or in the weekend?
Look at the tally chart. What information is recorded on it?
How well did Tony do on Friday’s spelling tests?
Why do you think he did better on Fridays than on Tuesdays?
Did doing more homework in the second week make any difference to Tony’s test marks?
What advice could you give Tony about doing homework?
- The aim of this discussion time is to get the students to be familiar with the charts and to become fluent in how to read them. They should be able to predict that the more homework he does the more words he gets correct.
- Have the students decide how much homework they think Tony should do each night to get all his words correct on Friday. They may want to show this on another bar chart.
- Have students write a letter to Tony telling him what they have discovered about his homework and giving him advice on how to do better.
Extension to the Problem
Have students keep a record of their own homework patterns.
Have students continue the charts showing Tony’s improvement after following their advice.
Other Contexts for the Problem
Any other type of homework: e.g. multiplication tables.
Time spent reading books and the number of books read.
Time spent practicing music and number of songs able to play.
Tony got high marks when he practised the night before. Each night he did homework he got more words correct. If Tony wants to get all his spelling words correct he needs to practice every night, not just on Thursdays. There may be a number of reasons why Tony didn’t do homework on Monday or Tuesday nights. Perhaps he forgot about it or perhaps he was given a new list on Mondays so he didn’t have anything to learn over the weekends.
A sample of a letter could be:
Write Tony a letter giving your prescription for better spelling.
I have examined your homework charts and have noticed some things that might improve your test results.
You leave your homework till Thursday nights, which doesn’t give you enough time to learn all the words. I think if you did about 5 minutes homework every night, starting on Monday you would not have to panic on Thursdays and you would get all your words correct.