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Lesson Review

ETP Title:Using scatter plots to analyze data sets
Organization:University of California, Berkeley
ETP Type:Creating a New Lesson
Grade Level(s):8
Subject Area(s):Mathematics

Lesson Abstract:

This lesson is designed to address the Statistics and Probability cluster of the CCSS: Mathematics 8th grade standards. The lesson will be taught in order to strengthen students understanding of data sets and the use of scatter plots to analyze the data.  I will bring in data that I collect while working in the lab this summer. The students will then learn about different academic vocabulary used to describe patterns and trends that scatter plots can show. The students will be assessed formatively during the lesson through observing how students describe scatter plots both verbally and in written form. Then students will be given a summative assessment where they must write sentences describing different scatter plots and the trends that they see as an exit ticket and a homework assignment.

Focal Standards

CA CCSS Mathematics Standards


8.SP.1 - Construct and interpret scatter plots for bivariate measurement data to investigate patterns of association between two quantities. Describe patters such as clustering, outliers, positive or negative association, linear association, and nonlinear association.

Measurable Objectives:

Students will be able to interpret scatter plots, classify the type of correlation shown, and describe the correlation using academic vocabulary both verbally and written down.


Students will be assessed in a variety of ways. The teacher will use a series of formative assessments to collect data during the lesson and also a summative assessment after the lesson is complete. The first formative assessment that the teacher will use is questioning the students and having students share their initial sentences to see if students are using the academic vocabulary appropriately. Later on in the lesson the students will write further sentences on mini-white boards so that the teacher can get feedback from all students on how their learning is going.  A quick exit ticket will see what students learned individually about the vocabulary and their use. The summative assessment will be in the form of a homework assignment where students are asked to write sentences to describe a series of scatter plots using the studied academic vocabulary. The teacher will assess the accuracy of student academic vocabulary use in the sentences on the homework assignment.

21st Century Skill(s)

Learning and Innovation Skills: Making Judgements and Decisions

• Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis



21st Century Skill(s) Application

Students will practice the 21st century skill throughout the learning activity. Students are first given information about the context of the data set they will be looking at and asked to interpret the data through this lens. Students will be given time to interpret the data and discuss it with their peers. When students have come to a consensus around what the data set shows they will finally use that analysis to make a conclusion regarding the context of the initial data set.

Fellowship Description

The fellowship project I am working on is taking place in an Electrical Engineering research lab on the UC Berkeley Campus. The lab has been focusing its efforts in the area of printable electronics and my role in the lab was in this area. I looked at the effects of light, heat, and x-rays on the printable nanolayers that the lab prints. I used a variety of skills ranging from all the technical skills of working with chemicals in a lab to critical thinking required to analyze the data that we generated. The work my sponsor is doing is in a similar area with one major difference. He is working on printing nanolayers of copper metal while I worked on nanolayers of silver metal. 

The type of career path that I am being exposed to is one of a researcher at a public university. Most of the researchers who also worked in the lab are undergrad, graduate, or post docs in the Electrical Engineering field. Some of the researchers continue to work in the lab as they finish their studies but others move to industry after they have completed their degrees.

The connection between the ETP and Fellowship. :

Pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the world around us is at the forefront of work that is done at research labs at UC Berkeley. When we don't know the answer to a question scientists devise tests and analyze the results in order to come to conclusions about what was previously unknown.  In my instructional plan I will expose my students to the work that I am doing in the lab and have the students analyze the data that I am looking at to discover an unknown. I will also schedule a lab visit for my students so my students can visualize themselves in the summer fellowship experience. They will get a tour of the lab with a possibility of sending one of my students to the lab in the future to intern.


My focal standard is relevant to my work at UC Berkeley because as a researcher I will constantly be looking at data and analyzing it to look for patterns and conclusions that I could draw from it. The focal standard I have picked is this exact same work.

Instructional Plan:

1. Warm Up Activity (10 min) -> Students will engage in a brief warmup activity designed to activate their prior knowledge around the coordinate plane. During this time students will be shown a coordinate plane with a line drawn on it (can be any straight line) and they will be asked to:

  • write the coordinates of one of the points on the line
  • decide if the line has a positive or negative slope
  • fill in the sentence frame for each variable -> when 'x' increases, the 'y' __________

Students should all write down an answer to the first prompt. Students can discuss in pairs the answer to whether the line has a positive or negative slope. The third prompt will also be completed by all students. Encourage students to use the names of what the variables stand for instead of the variable name (height of the person instead of 'x'). Have students share answers to the first prompt and make a big list. Have one or two students share their sentence and show how you can see that increase/decrease on the graph and list of points from the line drawn.


2. Introduce work from IISME summer lab (5 min)-> after the warm up activity the teacher will describe the work that he did in the research lab over the summer.

  • Synthesizing Silver Nanoparticles
  • Formulating Inks with Silver Nanoparticles
  • Printing said Inks
  • Performing Conductivity tests on printed inks
  • Analyzing results of conductivity tests

Teacher explains how research work generates loads of data and that data needs to be analyzed through the use of scatter plots. See attachment 2 fellowship / classroom connection.


3. academic vocabulary (30 min) -> teacher begins instruction on the academic vocabulary of the lesson

  • correlation
  • no correlation
  • positive correlation
  • negative correlation
  • strong correlation
  • weak correlation
  • linear association
  • nonlinear association

See attachment 4 - Vocabulary Instruction. The vocabulary instruction power point first ask students to look at two scatter plots and describe what they see. The two graphs show a strong correlation and a no correlation scatter plot. Students can discuss in small groups before sharing their thoughts with the whole class. Once students have a general idea about what a correlation is the instruction shifts into a discussion around the different types of correlations. Students are shown opposing examples (strong v. weak; linear v. nonlinear; positive v. negative) of different types of correlations. At the end of the presentation there is a slide with some sentence frames for students to use when crafting their own sentences that describe scatter plots.

While the slides of correlation types are being shown students are filling in their vocabulary sheet (see attachment 1 - vocabulary sheet) with definitions of correlation and the different types of correlation. After the presentation is finished the teacher will instruct the students to complete the rest of the vocabulary sheet. This would include writing sentences using the provided sentence frames and drawing their own scatter plots that represent the academic vocabulary word.

While students are completing the vocabulary sheet the teacher can circulate the room to check in with students and formatively assess by questioning students and checking their written work. If there is time, the teacher can ask students to share some of their sentences with the class.


4. Student practice (10 min) -> teacher puts scatter plots from IISME lab work onto projector and students get mini-whiteboards to write one sentence that describes the scatter plots using the new vocabulary. The teacher asks students to hold up their whiteboards to quickly assess how each students are using the academic vocabulary. Sentences are shared outloud and recorded next to the corresponding graph.  See attachment 3 - Sample Graphs

sample sentences could be:

  • "When the temperature in increased, the reaction time decreased showing a negative correlation"
  • "The scatter plot comparing voltage to temperature showed a linear assosciation except for one outlier point"
  • "The scatter plot shows a weak nonlinear correlation in the data."

5. exit slip (5 min) -> at the end of the lesson students will be given a small scatter plot and will be asked to write at least two sentences on lined paper to describe the graph using the academic vocabulary learned in class. See attachment 5 - exit slip prompt

6. When students turn in their exit slip the teacher gives them a copy of the summative assessment (see attachment 6 - homework assignment). The summative assessment is a homework assignment that asks them to describe a few scatter plots using the vocabulary learned during the lesson. The teacher can use this assignment to assess student progress towards mastering the learning goal of the lesson.


mini white board and markers

sample scatter plots

vocabulary worksheet

projector and screen

lined paper for exit slip

Bibliographic or other resources you used in creating this curriculum:

"Types of Correlation." Types of Correlation. ditutor, n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .


"Scatter Plots." Scatter (XY) Plots. Math is Fun, n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .


Scatter Plots, Correlation