Are you a modal student? Grades 4 & 5 —Teacher’s notes


Grades 4 to 5 students will:

  • read, interpret, and draw conclusions from primary data
  • demonstrate an understanding of the mode
  • use the mode to create a profile of a population
  • compare similarities and differences between themselves and a population


  1. Print out copy of appropriate worksheet for each student:
    Grades 4 to 5 worksheet (can be printed on 11″ x 17″ paper as a fold out with page 1 on the front and pages 2 and 3 on the inside)
  2. Prepare copy of class dataset – can be either viewed on computers or printed out for each student or pair of students.
    Teachers – if you are printing out the dataset, you may want to choose just enough columns of data for a double-sided page as the entire dataset is about 10 pages long.
  3. Read the descriptions of the modal male and female student who completed theCensus at School survey in a previous year on the lesson introduction page. Discuss with the class how these descriptions were made and why neither of these students actually exists.

Time required

Allow at least 30 minutes for students to complete the worksheet, with additional time for the introduction and the follow-up discussion.


Page 1
Students choose 5 questions from the Census at School survey. They find and record the mode for each question. They also record their personal answer. At the bottom of the page, they write a few sentences describing the modal student. They can start by writing, “The typical student in our class …”.

Page 2
Students draw the “modal” or typical student in their class using the 5 modes that they found on page 1. They will have to be creative to figure out how to show some of these qualities on their drawing.

Page 3
Students draw a picture of themselves, being sure to show in their drawing how they are the same as or different from the modal student.

Follow up

  1. Display the students’ drawings in the classroom and talk about why their drawings of the modal student are not all the same.
  2. Discuss how the use of data, such as Census of Canada data, can be used to create a profile of a population. Why is this useful?
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