Interpreting the Standard Deviation

Does standard deviation work for non-symmetrical distributions, and what does it mean? Through the use of examples, high schoolers determine the standard deviation of a variety of distributions and interpret its meaning. Problems require more than just a number — they require a complete understanding of the standard deviation.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • Create various dot plots with different standard deviations and have the class order them from smallest to largest
  • Have pairs create dot plots with standard deviations that would fall between the standard deviations in the exercises
Classroom Considerations

  • The sixth lesson of a 20-lesson module
Pros

  • Provides a natural way to use Think-Pair-Share activity
  • Developed specifically to use the standard deviation to compare variability of data sets that are not obvious
Cons

  • None