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Subjects
  • Educational Technology
  • Mathematics
    Arithmetic, Statistics
  • Social Sciences

Grades

3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Brief Description

Students use data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine whether last names in the local phone directory reflect the U.S. Census Bureau's list of the most common surnames in the country and where their surnames appear on the list.

Objectives

Students will
  • collect data,
  • determine whether last names in the local phone directory reflect the Census Bureau's list of the most common surnames in the country.

Keywords

phone, telephone, survey, alphabet, census, math, graph, table, family, research, genealogy

Materials Needed[shopmaterials]

  • local phone directory; one for each student (contact your local phone company for a class set or collect old phone books from students' families when a new directory is issued)

Lesson Plan

According to geneologyspot.com, the most common surnames in the United States are, in order of their frequency, Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, and Brown. (See a Census Bureau document for a detailed list.) How many phone listings for each of those last names are in your phone directory? Have students count the names and create a bar graph to show the number of listings for each surname. Does the students' survey of the frequency of those five names in your local phone directory reflect the same sequence seen in the Census Bureau's list?

Extension activities:

  • Have students use the data they collect to create a pie graph. The whole pie will represent the total number of listings in your phone directory under the five most common last names. The pie is divided into five pieces -- one for each of the five surnames -- that reflect the part of the whole that each surname represents in your local phone book.
  • Have students find their own last name on the Census Bureau list. (Note: As you might guess, this list takes a significant amount of time to download.) Give each student a 3- by 5-inch card on which to write his or her last name and the number that corresponds to its placement on the list. (For example: Smith-1 or Baxter-566.) Then let students use their cards to build a bar graph by placing their cards in one of the following columns:
  • Most Common Names 1 to 500
  • Most Common Names 501 to 1000
  • Most Common Names 1001 to 2000
  • Most Common Names 2001 and Higher
  • Ask students to write a paragraph that might appear as an explanatory caption under the bar graph they created.

Assessment

Students write a paragraph explaining whether their community's phone book reflects the U.S. Census results.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations

  • GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

  • GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

  • GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
MATHEMATICS: Data Analysis and Probability
  • GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-DATA.3-5.1 Formulate Questions That Can Be Addressed With Data and Collect, Organize, and Display Relevant Data to Answer

  • GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-DATA.6-8.1 Formulate Questions That Can Be Addressed With Data and Collect, Organize, and Display Relevant Data to Answer
    NM-DATA.6-8.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data

  • GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-DATA.9-12.1 Formulate Questions That Can Be Addressed With Data and Collect, Organize, and Display Relevant Data to Answer
    NM-DATA.9-12.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
MATHEMATICS: Representation

  • GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
TECHNOLOGY
  • GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues
    NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity tools
    NT.K-12.4 Technology Communications tools
    NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
    NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools
Return to Phone Book Math.

See more fun math lessons in these Education World articles:

Originally published 06/14/2002
Links last updated 05/04/2006

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