Correlation vs. Causation Activity (FREE)

The Correlation vs. Causation Activity

Students love this correlation vs. causation lesson, because -- once they've grasped it -- they begin to see this phenomenon all around them.

The first time I taught this lesson was eight years ago during an election year when political commercials were all over the place. After this lesson, the history teacher (yes, this is also a history standard in most states) pulled up some of those commercials and we had great discussions about the difference between causation and correlation and how advertisers assume we don't know the difference.

Students that did not love math were coming into my classroom to have high-level discussions around this subject, and healthy and educated debates began to take place. Real learning was happening.

The Statistics CCSS Standards

S.ID.9 - This is the main standard that we discuss during this lesson.

High School: Statistics & Probability » Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data » Interpret linear models » 9

Distinguish between correlation and causation.

This standard is a great example that will prepare our students to decipher and interpret information in their lives.

The Lesson Opener

I like to begin this lesson with some great graphs from, but make sure your students' maturity can handle the content. These graphs make it evident that -- even though the graphs match -- the information is not a causation.

The conversation then can move into the definitions of causation and correlation with context and meaning. The discussion will help all of your learners connect the learning to previous understanding so they retain the information. The power in this is incredible and will immediately increase confidence. You will know this is true when you hear them saying the lesson was "easy."

Strong Examples of Causation vs. Correlation

Both of these websites are perfect for showing students the ridiculousness of the assumption that correlation always means causation.

Now, for the Activity!

The fun part of this activity is that the students will find data with a common independent variable (usually time) and show a correlation, trying to trick people into believing causation. The process of thinking through and considering the data can be a bit rough, but remind your students that simply recognizing a positive or a negative trend may be enough.

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Causation Vs Correlation Activity (FREE)


Standard Deviation Lesson Plan

The Standard Deviation Lesson Plan Overview

The standard deviation lesson plan is based on the understanding of what standard deviation is calculating. This is done before they ever learn how to calculate it using technology. Understanding that standard deviation is measuring the deviation of the change off of the mean is very important in Algebra 1, and this activity is visual and straightforward for students to understand.

The Standard Deviation Lesson Plan Covers

  • S.ID.1 - Represent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
  • S.ID.2 - Use statistics appropriate to the shape of the data distribution to compare center (median, mean) and spread (interquartile range, standard deviation) of two or more different data sets.

The Standard Deviation Lesson Plan Emphasizes the Mathematical Practices

  • MP5 Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • MP7 Look for and make use of the structure.

The Flow of the Standard Deviation Lesson Plan

This lesson starts with a bellringer and moves into an activity that will ask students to judge two different histograms and compare them using standard deviation. This comparison gives you the perfect opportunity to create mathematical discourse in your classroom. Allow the students to debate and discuss will cement this concept into their memories. The PowerPoint will allow you to ask great questions while being able to reference the graphs in front of the classroom. Once students have a clear understanding of what standard deviation is measuring, the direction of the class will move towards calculating the standard deviation using technology. In this lesson, we discuss Desmos as a tool. But you can use any technology for this assignment. Finally, the class will finish up by having an exit slip showing their understanding of how to calculate and interpret a standard deviation problem.

Free Standard Deviation Worksheet/Activity


The Complete Standard Deviation Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Day 54: Standard Deviation Lesson Plan
  • Bellringer
  • Day 54: PowerPoint Presentation
  • Standard Deviation Comparison Activity
  • Standard deviation practice worksheet
  • Exit Slip

Members: Use this link to access the full Day 54: Standard Deviation lesson plan download:

Powerful Questions

The following questions can be used during the standard deviation's lesson plan to help your students better understand the concept that we are talking about today.

  • What approaches did you use to decide which graph had the larger standard deviation?
  • What features of a histogram seem to have no bearing on the standard deviation?
  • What do features appear to affect the standard deviation?

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Standard Deviation Lesson Plan


Line of Best Fit Lesson Plans

Line of Best Fit Lesson Plans

Teaching the concept of the line of best fit can put together a lot of strategies and skills. Today I would love to share with you a couple of my favorite worksheets and activities that engage students.

Line of Best Fit Worksheets

One of my go-to handouts is the line of best fit for beginners. This step by step worksheet can allow students to figure out the line of best fit for any set of data. The simple handout allows you to use it not only in Algebra but you can talk a science or history teacher into using it too!

Beginners guide to line of best fit (PDF)

This worksheet is part of our Unit 4 Statistics Unit.

Click here for full access to the Statistics Unit for Algebra 1, including PowerPoints, printables, and assessments.

Line of Best Fit Activities

The line of best fit is best understood by students when they use real data and then make predictions. The Gapminder free online program uses real data from around the globe to show relationships. The Gapminder activity is by far my favorite activity to do with students. They love learning more about countries around the world. Here is the Introduction to Gapminder activity.

Introduction to Gapminder (PDF)

There is a second Gapminder activity in our member's area as well.


Within our member's area, you will also find weekly assessments that are ideal for formative assessments, as well as, Unit tests aligned to the Common Core. The assessments are created to be a combination of short answer and multiple choice to prepare students for the online and end of course exams.

Click here to get full access to our member area and download the Unit 4 Statistics Test!


Line of Best Fit Lesson Plans


3 Super Bowl Lesson Plans that Keep Kids Engaged

I used to hate the Monday after the Super Bowl. The kids were tired, I was tired, and it felt like a horrible situation of force-feeding information to the unwilling.

So I began looking for a lesson that would keep them engaged. And I found it! Now, many of you know I am a huge fan of the lessons at Yummy Math.

Scientific Notation

The lesson I found, called The cost of a Super Bowl XLVII ad was perfect. Incorporating scientific notation (which conveniently the biology teacher asked me to review), and prediction, the cost of the ads was a great way to get the kids interested in the math. I showed a few of their favorite commercials, and they were hooked.

For more lessons on feel free to check out the Unit 8 Livebinder.

Graphing Exponentials

Yummy Math one-upped them with this year's lesson. Again using the cost of an ad, this lesson incorporates graphing, creating a line of best fit, making predictions, comparing linear and exponential functions and other skills. Super Bowl Ads 2015 is copied and ready to go for tomorrow morning.

Unit 8 has more lessons on all aspects of exponentials.

Measures of Central Tendencies

For the middle school teachers out there, you are not forgotten! Yummy Math also has a way to predict (or check your prediction) of the score using statistics. Typical Super Bowl scores? This activity could also be used as a review if you are heading into statistics soon.

Are you looking for more statistics? Unit 4 has you covered!

Thank you, Yummy Math!

To ensure the kids love the lesson, I find a few commercials (yes, I make sure they are appropriate) and show those during the class. I love it! This day has gone from one I used to dread to a one I treasure. The kids and I enjoy it, and I hope you will too! Thank you, Yummy Math!

3 Super Bowl Lesson Plans that Keep Kids Engaged


How to Use Gapminder to Teach Statistics (S.ID) in Algebra 1

Real-data Graphing with Gapminder (Updated)

If you have not seen GapMinder yet, it is a must from every math and history teacher!

I was introduced to this amazing graphing software at a conference, and I was so excited to play with it and use it in my classroom. The "how" of using it was a bit vague, however, and the craziness of getting back to my classroom after three days out distracted me from the goal of figuring it out.

Well, when the Common Core put statistics back into Algebra 1, it pushed me forward. I am so grateful. I want my students to understand numbers in the context of the larger world around them. This is the perfect tool!

What is GapMinder?

If you have never heard of it before, feel free to take a look at the video below. Please know that the great part of the software is the depth of the data. You can change the x and y-axis to reflect data on world health, environment, family size, or GDP, among others. You can change the countries to be shown by selecting them from the right or you can select them all. GapMinder truly allows a teacher to meet the needs of their students!

The Lesson Plan

I created a task for my students to complete while taking their first look at GapMinder for my Modeling Linear Data Unit. The program introduction helps them to understand the notation and symbolism while incorporating the mathematics of independent and dependent variables, creating a table from a graph, and understanding how to read a graph. The class time must be structured to be valuable as I am still in training mode and this was the perfect way to achieve discovery and structure in one step.

Thinking Ahead ...

I am excited to see what my students do with this software. While I was playing around with it, I changed the y-axis to the number of children and left the x-axis as GDP. It was amazing to see -- in numbers -- the history I thought I understood. I have so many Bosnian students that escaped the war in their country. To focus on Bosnia and see the turmoil the war caused in their country was extremely powerful. I can see the history teacher using this to track the main players in WWII. You can identify the major dates or even show them the graph and have them research the reasons for the discrepancy in the graph. All very powerful.

Common Core Standards

I am working on creating lessons using this software to help students understand box and whisker (S.ID.1), correlation coefficient (S.ID.8), central tendencies(S.ID.2), and line of best fit (S.ID.6). I can see the outliers (S.ID.3) being very powerful as well with this software. I am very excited about the possibilities.

How will you use GapMinder?

Please share how you think this software can be used in the classroom. I would love to hear from you! And be sure to pin it for future reference!

Teach statistics using This fantastic program will allow students to work with real data to understand statistics.


How to Use Gapminder to Teach Statistics (S.ID) in Algebra 1

Week 11 - Representing Data

Representing Data

Unit 4 - Week 11

  • Create dot plots, histograms, and box plots S.ID.1

  • Understand and compare mean, median, interquartile range, and standard deviation and how it creates the shapes of graphs S.ID.2

Representing Data

Representing Data

Day 51 Introduction to Statistics: Mean, Median, and Mode

A great look at the effects of Median over Mean


Day 52 - Ohio DOE Box and Whisker.

This lesson uses no technology and is a great way to show students visually what a box and whisker plot is and how it is created. Numbers are sorted and placed within quartiles giving students a conceptual understanding before moving into technology based instruction.

Practice and interpretation sheet for box and whisker.

Day 53 - Penny's Dates (S.ID.1, S.ID.2, SID.3)

This activity allows students to see how we can use a sample of a population to make larger conclusions. This will fit nicely as we relate it to our teams election project. (SDOC Math Website)?

Day 54 - Standard Deviation Lesson Plan


Day 55 - Assessments


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