Teaching Box-and-Whisker Plots
As with all math concepts, there are different approaches to teaching. What has worked in my classes is – I break down the box-and-whisker plot into 5 steps, in order to plot the 5 points needed to create the box and whiskers:
1) Order the data set from least to greatest.
2) Identify the smallest and largest values; place those points on the number line (above the number line).
3) Identify the median and place that point on the number line.
- Students need to understand and remember that if there’s an even number of numbers in the data set, the median will be the mean of the two middle numbers – even though they’ve found median in the past, many students tend to need this reminder.
This step can be tricky for students…I’ve found it to be the step that most often throws off their box.
- Here’s what I’ve noticed: when there’s an odd number of numbers in the data set, it’s a little easier for students – the median is not included in the upper and lower halves of the data, so they are ok with circling the halves on either side of the median and then finding the median of each half, as in figure 1.
- When the data set has an even number of numbers, students need to remember that the median is between numbers and that exactly half of the numbers are in the upper half of the data and half are in the lower, as shown in figure 2.
a) Draw a box, with the (vertical) end lines going through the points of the first and third quartiles.
b) Draw a vertical line through the median.
c) Draw lines from the box to the least and greatest values.
Box-and-Whisker Plot Fold-It-Up
The only folding part of this fold-it-up is the section at the very bottom that has the definitions of the vocabulary.
Students will need to cut the vertical lines along the bottom, fold them up, and then write the vocabulary words on the outside of the flaps
- first quartile
- third quartile
- interquartile range).
If students miss the instruction due to absence, I give them a copy of my completed version when they return.
Box-and-Whisker Plot Math Wheel
What instructional strategies/activities for box-and-whisker plots are your favorites?