Teaching Statistics in Classrooms with English Learners AND Native Speakers


CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.SP.A.1 Recognize a statistical question as one that anticipates
variability in the data related to the question and accounts
for it in the answers

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.SP.A.1 Understand that statistics can be used to gain information about a population by examining a sample of the population; generalizations about a population from a sample are valid only if the sample is representative of that population.

📲 Technology Required

Computer with projector, for students learning in class. Students will need access to a phone, tablet or computer.

⏰ Time Required

75-90 minutes

📃 Summary

This lesson includes game-based instruction and data analysis. Data can be collected at home on students’ phones or using a computer. Google sheets is used to compute descriptive statistics to answer a statistical question. Lab instructions, Sheet templates and a sample answer are included. You can modify this in an infinite number of ways to compare any two groups on any numeric variable.


NOTE: This lesson assumes students understand:

Discuss the definition of a statistical question.

If students have not completed the lesson, “What is a statistical question?” , you can complete that first. It takes about two hours.

If you are REALLY short on time, or if you are just reviewing the concept you have previously taught, you can just use the first 12 slides of this presentation on What is a Statistical Question?” to give the basic definition and a few examples.

Class Discussion of Research Question

Pose a research question, for example, “Do different Spanish and English speakers differ in their interests, as determined by what they post on Instagram?” Of course, you can easily change the language if you have speakers of other languages in your class.

Next, you need a hypothesis, for example, “Spanish-speakers are more likely to post pictures of food than English speakers” or “English accounts will have more pictures of themselves than Spanish accounts”.

In selecting a hypothesis, you can discuss distribution and probability. If almost no one takes pictures of giraffes then the probability of finding enough giraffe pictures to compare is low. (Be prepared for your students to suggest the hashtag #giraffesofinstagram).


Statistics Lab Assignment : Social Media Analytics

In this assignment, each group of students will collect and analyze social media data from 10 accounts of Spanish speakers and 10 accounts of English speakers. After individual assignments are submitted, data will be combined into a single class data set and the analyses re-computed for the combined data set.

Assign Groups

After you have agreed on one research question, put your class in groups of 4 or 5 students. Ideally, each group would have at least one Spanish speaker and at least one native English speaker. Ask students to raise their hands if they have an Instagram account. Try to put at least one student with an account in each group. Groups can also include students learning from home.

Share lab documents with students to collect, enter and analyze data

Social Media Analysis. The assignment instructions, along with a sample of data collected can be downloaded here as a Google doc and printed or added to your Google classroom or other CMS.

The spreadsheet for entering data can be found here. This is a Google sheet but it can also be downloaded and saved as an Excel file if you prefer.

Optional: Provide students starting links for accounts

To help students find accounts, you can include these links in your Google classroom or other classroom management system, or any list of accounts

You can find 50 inspirational accounts in Spanish here ( https://metricool.com/es/50-cuentas-de-instagram-ordenadas-por-tematica-para-inspirarte/ )

and 20 inspirational accounts in English here – ( https://wealthygorilla.com/top-20-motivational-instagram-accounts/ )

Each group analyzes their own data

An example of a social media analysis, with formula for computing each value in Google sheets can be found here.

Class discussion

Discuss the idea of variation within the accounts. Discuss the idea of variation across the groups. Did the different groups in your class find the exact same results?

Discuss variation in samples. What could have explained the different results? Did some groups have accounts that were all celebrities, all friends, all male?

Play a game

Scene in the Disaster Deduction Detectives Academy

Play Disaster Deduction Detectives to learn how to compute the median in datasets with odd or even numbers of data.

Statistics Lab Assignment 2: Social Media Analytics with Larger Sample

In the second lab exercise (instructions found here) , students combine the data from all groups, and compute descriptive statistics again. They compare their group’s results with the whole class result and discuss possible explanations.


Three types of assessment are included. Group assessments are the two lab assignments submitted by students – since each student in the group has the same data he/ she will have the same result. Optionally, teachers may elect to have students submit their labs individually. Individual assessment is included within the DDD game where students must identify a statistical question, compute mean, median and quartiles. Whole class assessment occurs during the two discussion session.

Related lessons

We recommend this lesson follow Teaching Frequency Tables with Indigenous Communities’ Data.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Statistics in Classrooms with English Learners AND Native Speakers

  1. Pingback: Cross-curricular Middle School Statistics Unit | Growing Math

  2. Pingback: Learn statistics and history, in English or Spanish | Growing Math

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