How to use an average: TES Maths Resource of the Week

To see all of the work I do for TES Maths, including Resource of the Week, Inspect the Spec, Pedagogy Place, Maths Newsletters and Topic Collections, please visit the TES Maths Blog here

What is it?
Averages are a staple of a student’s’ mathematics education. They encounter them for the first time around Year 4, and yet they are still plugging away at them in Year 11 and beyond. Averages are also a strange topic in the sense that whilst students have covered most of the basics early on, they are not really mastered by many students until much later, if ever. Finally, averages represent a substantial challenge to us teachers for the very reason that we need to teach them each and every year. This often means we have to come up with novel ways to present material to students to keep them interested and keep their understanding developing. To cut a long story short – those are three reasons why I love this resource. It tackles what can be one of the most complicated and often abstract concepts in the entire topic – the appropriateness of averages.

How can it be used?
This is a PowerPoint presentation that is intended to be used as a lesson, and the structure of the lesson is superb. There is a starter activity which sets up the ambiguities presented by using averages perfectly. Then comes my favourite part – lots of scenarios that present great discussion opportunities. The house price example is particularly powerful and well illustrated. Then we have a very clear way of tackling the pros and cons of each average for a number of situations, before finally looking at some real-life misuses of average. In short, this is just about the best lesson on the concept of appropriateness of averages that I have ever seen on TES. However, as with all resources, it should first be checked out, edited and adapted to suit the needs of your students.

Thanks so much for sharing
Craig Barton

Download: How to use an average
View the author’s other resources


Leave a Reply