Mean absolute deviation can sound very intimidating. I remember being in a master’s class and we had to find the standard deviation of some data. Most people in the class had no clue what to do. Most 7th grade math teachers have been teaching math since before the Common Core came on the scene, so this makes mean absolute deviation a new topic for many of us. If you’re like me, you get worried when there’s a new topic. You want to teach it right, but you’re not confident with how to teach it. At least, not yet. It’s taken me a bit of time to feel comfortable with it, but this year I had so much fun teaching this concept. Let me show you step by step how I broke down and taught my 7th grade students about mean absolute deviation.
mean absolute deviation
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.
I’ll be the first to admit that when the concept of mean absolute deviation was added to our standards, I didn’t know what it was. Of course, I’ve worked with standard deviation and mean, but I was a newbie to this concept of MAD. As I’ve wrapped my head around it, I’ve learned it enhances other concepts students are learning, and it’s taught as part of helping students to understand variability. In this post I’m sharing with you 12 engaging activities for teaching mean absolute deviation (MAD) to help your students really get it.