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Real-Time Traffic Data: A Vehicle for Statistical Exploration

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience
FOY 2007-2008 Data Analysis & Probability

 

Title: 
Authors:
Journal:
Issue:
Real-Time Traffic Data: A Vehicle for Statistical Exploration
Dr. Matthew Winsor, Dr. Lawrence Lesser, Dr. Lucy Payne, Dr. Douglas Grouws
On-Math
2006, volume 4, issue 1 


Rationale/Suggestions for Use

This article provides mathematics teachers with an opportunity to reflect on practice by exploring tasks that allow students to develop an understanding of measures of central tendencies. The internet based activities ask students to collect, organize, represent, and analyze real-time data.

Procedures/Discussion Questions

The following is a suggested approach to using the article in professional development sessions with middle or high school teachers. It is assumed that teachers will have access to computers and the Internet.

  1. Begin the professional development with a brief whole group discussion of the types of data teachers use in their classrooms to teach statistical concepts related to measures of central tendency. Have them categorize the types of data as discrete, or continuous.
  2. Introduce the concept of “real-time” data by asking the participants to identify which types of data listed are considered “real-time.”
  3. Have teachers read the first two sections (Introduction, and A closer look at the traffic internet site). Allow time for teachers to explore the internet site used in Traffic.
  4. In small groups, have teachers discuss the following questions:
    • What are some other real-time data sets that can be used in classroom instruction?
    • What are some of the advantages of using real data and real-time data to enhance students’ learning and understanding of collecting, organizing, representing, and analyzing data?
    • How do you think the use of real-time data will impact students’ understanding of measures of central tendency?
  5. Have teachers read sections 3 and 4, Managing Real-Time data with spreadsheet programs and Using real-time data in a meaningful manner.
  6. Allow time for small groups to briefly revisit the following questions:
    • What are some of the advantages of using real data and real-time data to enhance students’ learning and understanding of collecting, organizing, representing, and analyzing data?
    • How do you think the use of real-time data will impact students’ understanding of measures of central tendency?
  7. Conclude the session by asking participants to share their small group responses to the previous questions. How does the use of real-time data and spreadsheets support the development of conceptual understanding?

Additional Discussion Questions

  • Were there new insights gained by the use of technology?
  • How did the group discussion contribute to your learning? What challenges might be encountered in having students work through the tasks as outlined?  

Extensions

  • If there is another scheduled session with the participants, ask them to try the tasks of collecting, organizing, and representing real-time data with their own students. Have them bring samples of students’ work. Analyze students’ work in small groups and discuss as a whole group.  
  • Have participants identify additional web sites where they can collect real-time data.

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