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e-Learning for Educators
Course Information

Using Real Data in the Math Classroom*
Course Description

Real-world data are a glimpse into a complex story that involves much more detail than the numbers would suggest. We want students to look "behind the scenes" by organizing, representing and analyzing these data. Technology is central to this task, both as a source of data and as a tool for data analysis. Technology tools and web-based materials provide important ways for math educators to meet key NCTM and ISTE standards that emphasize problem solving and making connections between mathematics, other disciplines and the real world. These standards include a significant emphasis on representing and analyzing data, including a focus on being able to evaluate the sources of data and the effectiveness of different representations that students will encounter both inside and out of school. This workshop will explore a range of web-based resources and exemplary projects which utilize technology to support these goals. Participants will learn how to find sources of real data on the Web and explore how technology tools such as spreadsheets can help students analyze, visualize and make sense of these data. Participants will complete the workshop with a collection of resources and beginning project ideas that serve their curricular goals.

This course is open to all certificed teachers of mathematics through grade 8 who are or have taught in the middle grades mathematics classroom.

Course Syllabus


This is an introductory workshop for teachers, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, professional development specialists, or other school personnel.  Participants are expected to have regular access to computers, and proficiency with email and current web-browsers.


This workshop will enable participants to:

  1. Learn how NCTM Math and ISTE standards can be met with real world data, supported by appropriate technology
  2. Learn how to find mathematical data on the Web and download it into a spreadsheet
  3. Learn how to find and evaluate projects that include analysis of real data
  4. Learn to evaluate the appropriateness of varied data sets for specific pedagogical goals
  5. Learn about a variety of data analysis tools appropriate for classroom use
  6. Develop a personal collection of web-based resources for curricular use
  7. Develop preliminary plans for a technology-enhanced classroom activity that uses real data

Assessment and Course Requirements

Each session includes readings, an activity, and a discussion assignment, which participants are required to complete.


Course Products

As a final product, participants will develop a sample technology-enhanced lesson that uses real data for their classroom.


Discussion Participation

Participants will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their discussion board participation.  Participants are required to post a minimum of two substantial postings each session, including one that begins a new thread and one that responds to an existing thread.  Postings that begin new threads will be reviewed based on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited, and overall quality.  Postings that respond to other participants will be evaluated on relevance, degree to which they extend the discussion, and tone.


Required Readings, Activities and Assignments

Session One: What Can We Learn from Data? How Can Technology Support Telling the Story of Data?

Students will read

In the activities session students will start explore through the Exploring Data website and analyze the data from the Challenger disaster.


Session Two: Understanding Patterns and Making Predictions

Students will read

In the activities section they will explore and analyze the unusual incident data and the shoe size vs. height data.


Session Three: Developing a Statistical Analysis

Students will read

In the activities section, students will analyze two sets of data using a spreadsheet program and will look for trends in the data.


Session Four: Telling the Story of Data using Graphs and Technology

Students will read

In the activities section, students will examine an activity from NCTM’s E-Examples series, a number of statistical applets available at Project Interactivate, and an online source of interesting graphs.


Session Five: Exploring Sources of Real Data on the Web

Students will read

In the activities section, students will investigate some WebQuests and online sources of real data for their own classroom projects.


Session Six: Developing Preliminary Plans for a Technology-Enhanced Classroom Project That Uses Real Data

Students will read an excerpt from

In the activities section, they will finalize their lesson plan and use the discussion board to share what they learned in the workshop.