In recent years, mean absolute deviation and variability concepts have been added to 7th grade math. It seems like a huge jump from their current understanding to these concepts, but we as teachers always figure out ways to make the content accessible to students. The first time I taught mean absolute deviation I just told the kids that absolute value was the distance a number is from zero. It seems like a simple concept and in my rush to get to the meat of the topic, I left it at that. Well, needless to say, the majority of my students don’t retain information just because I say it a couple of times. I know, I know, teaching lesson learned (again!). Let me share with you how teaching absolute value through discovery made teaching the whole topic of mean absolute deviation and absolute value in general so much easier.

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