Are you a modal student? Grades 6 to 8 Teacher’s Notes


Grades 6 to 8 students will:

  • read, interpret, and draw conclusions from primary data
  • demonstrate an understanding of how data from tables can be used to describe a population
  • use the mode to create a profile of a population


  1. Print out copy of appropriate worksheet for each student:
    Grades 6 to 8 worksheet (may print as double-sided page)
  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.

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
Read the descriptions of the modal male and female student who completed the Census at School survey in a previous year (also available on the lesson introduction page.  Discuss with the class how these descriptions were made and why neither of these students actually exists. Students write a few sentences to explain this at the bottom of page 1.

Page 2
Students choose 5 questions from the Census at School survey.  They find and record the mode for each question in the table provided. (They can choose to use the class mode, the male mode or the female mode for this activity.) At the bottom of the page, they write a few sentences describing the modal student for the class, using the information they recorded in the table on page 1.They can start by writing, “The typical (or modal) student in our class …”.

Follow up

  1. Invite students to read their modal student descriptions as a class or in small groups. Talk about why their descriptions 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?
  3. Discuss whether a profile created from a sample of the population could be used to describe the entire population. What planning would be required to ensure that the sample is a good representation of the population?
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