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Data - Facts or Fiction?

Data - Facts or Fiction?

Unit Summary

In our society data is represented in a variety of ways. There has been much discussion in the media about the number of overweight children and teenagers and the consumption of junk foods in schools and the general community. Statistics and data representation have been used to illustrate the level of obesity in the general community. Through research among their own peer group, students will collect data on food consumption habits, canteen sales and preferences. To present this data students will learn to analyse data representation to identify misrepresentation of data in graphs. They will construct frequency tables and produce a variety of graphs using these tables.

By completing the activities students will investigate different graphs, the minimum required information for graphs and how graphs directly link to tables via the spreadsheet.

Students will draw their own conclusions based on their research, the collection of data and analysis of results, and present these results to the school community through an informative website.

Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    How do we make decisions?
  • Unit Questions
    How can information be displayed mathematically?
    Does using data help in decision-making?
    Do graphs and tables tell the truth?
  • Content Questions
    What is the relationship between graphs and the accuracy of information?
    How are graphs used to represent data?
    What are the similarities and differences between different types of graphs?
    How can graphs be misleading?
    What is the relationship between healthy food choices in the school canteen and what students actually buy?
    How high does healthy eating rate when students buy from the school canteen?

Assessment Processes

View how assessment is used in this unit plan. These assessments help students and teachers set understandable goals, monitor student progress, provide feedback, assess thinking, performance and products and reflect on learning throughout the activities.

Prerequisite Skills

Students’ Prior Knowledge

  • Students should have an understanding of data collection, line, column and pie graphs.
  • Students should understand that data can be collected and organised in a form that allows data to be represented visually.
  • Students’ will revise data collection and simple graphing skills.

Teachers’ Professional Learning

  • Teachers have knowledge of a word processing, multimedia presentation and publishing programs. A professional learning team could be created by the teachers who are teaching this or a similar unit at the same time.
  • List at least 2 items for professional reading you will do as part of this unit. Identify strategies for sharing key findings with your co-learners.

Teaching and Learning Strategies


Whole class discussions involving joint constructions – surveying, creating class graphs, tables, writing and reviewing texts, and creating multimedia products.


Providing scaffolding through small group work utilising: teacher assistance, peer mentoring, planning scaffolds, guidance sheets (steps students need to take), class charts visible around the room. Whole class sessions to share information and research sources with the class.


Students work individually in pairs or small groups to research and complete independent tasks. Students utilise their planning strategies to complete their independent tasks and then conference with the teacher.

Teaching and Learning Activities

  • The teacher introduces unit by grouping students to investigate the ways in which data is represented in various forms of communication. Students will be directed to contrast and compare the way data is represented in the various forms of media. Forms of communication to be researched include magazines, newspapers, books and other print materials. Digital resources including CD-Rom software and websites will also be examined. Students will be asked to observe and note how data is presented in television and current affairs programs. The students will categorise the data and present a short presentation to the class.
  • Lessons revising column, sector, conversion, line and step graphs are taught. A software program is used to tabulate and graph data. Teacher prepares a multimedia presentation such as Creating Graphs Using Spreadsheets (ppt) to guide students.
  • In pairs, students will conduct a small survey using a topic of their choice and use this information to create their own multimedia presentation eg Communicating Through Graphs (ppt) on the various types of graphs and their uses. A Multimedia Storyboard (doc) may assist students in their planning of this task.
  • To understand how graphs may be misleading, students contrast and compare a variety of graphs to develop the skills to read graphs to see whether they are accurate representations. In pairs, the students then create a Graphs and Tables (pdf) newsletter to demonstrate how graphs may be misleading. Again a Newsletter Storyboard (doc) may be helpful to students.
  • As part of an investigation into healthy eating, students will be required to research to find information about healthy eating, canteens and junk foods. The teacher may decide to prepare a  Topic Research Guide (doc) to scaffold the research process for students.
  • In pairs students will use the knowledge and understandings about data representation they have developed to collect, organise and draw conclusions based on data collected about foods sold at the school canteen.
  • Using the data they have collected, students will create a Healthy Lifestyles website about an aspect of their research to demonstrate their findings. The teacher may prepare a Website Planning (doc) guide to assist students. This website will be used to inform the school community about the conclusions they have reached.

Accommodations for Diverse Needs

Students with Special Needs

  • Negotiated according to individual needs.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Students

  • Students with special needs will create a flyer or brochure advertising healthy food and drinks, in place of creating a website.

Gifted Students

  • Presentation to class: Would there be any way that you could manipulate the graphs or data so that your audience might reach a different conclusion? How would you do that? Can you find any examples (newspapers, internet, corporate prospectuses, government data, etc.) where it is obvious that this has been done? Why do you think it was done?
  • Gifted and talented students will use their area of expertise to create a presentation for the school canteen committee based on their findings. This will include any of the domains of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences where students have particular talents.

Indigenous Groups

  • Negotiated according to needs


Graham Jackson participated in the Intel® Teach Essentials Course, which resulted in this idea for a classroom project. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.

© Copyright NSW Department of Education and Training 2007.

* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Data - Facts or Fiction?

At a Glance

Year: Level 7 (Stage 4)

Subjects: Mathematics, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education

Time Needed: 10 x 50 minute lessons.