ALEX Learning Activity


Is This Normal? The Normal Distribution Explained

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lorie White
System:Lauderdale County
School:Rogers High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2602
Is This Normal? The Normal Distribution Explained
Digital Tool/Resource:
Is This Normal? Desmos Activity
Web Address – URL:

Students will work through a Desmos activity on Normal Distribution. They will be reminded of how to find the mean of a data set. The process of finding the standard deviation of a set of data values will be introduced. Students will practice doing both calculations. Next, using the mean and standard deviation they will define the intervals in a normal curve and will approximate the percentage of items in each interval using the Empirical Rule.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
MA2015 (2016)
Grade: 9-12
41 ) Use the mean and standard deviation of a data set to fit it to a normal distribution and to estimate population percentages. Recognize that there are data sets for which such a procedure is not appropriate. Use calculators, spreadsheets, and tables to estimate areas under the normal curve. [S-ID4]

Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to:

- find the mean of a data set.

- find the standard deviation of a data set.

- use the mean and standard deviation to define the intervals in a normal distribution.

- use the empirical rule to approximate the area under the normal distribution.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. The teacher will assign Is It Normal? through Google Classroom or another online learning platform.
  2. The teacher will direct each student to the Desmos learning activity, Is It Normal? in Google Classroom or preferred online learning platform.
  3. This lesson will be taught as a whole group activity.
  4. The teacher will guide the students through each slide while explaining and teaching the skills using the slides.
  5. The teacher will instruct the students to answer the prompts provided in the activity.  
  6. The teacher should provide insight and guidance on each slide.
  7. As the students complete the prompts, the teacher should monitor students' progress on Desmos to identify problems or gaps in learning.
  8. Once the students answer their prompts, they can share their answers and they can see three other students' answers for a comparison of the correctness of their work.
  9. The teacher should answer the students' questions immediately to prevent misunderstandings.
Assessment Strategies:

The teacher can assess the students' answers in Desmos for assessment purposes. The teacher should correct the students' mistakes or misunderstandings.

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need to ensure the classroom has the following:

  1. Internet connection (WiFi).
  2. Classroom set of computers, iPads, or smart devices. (If allowed students can use their own personal devices.)
  3. Prior to the lesson, the teacher will need to assign Is It Normal? in Google Classroom.
  4. Prior to the lesson, the teacher should be familiar with Desmos and should create a free class code for the activity. If the teacher does not have a Desmos account, he/she will need to create a free Desmos account.
  5. Prior to the lesson, the teacher should work through the activity and be prepared to address questions. (The teacher can print a Teacher Guide to assist in this preparation.) 
Variation Tips (optional):

Students could work in pairs to complete this activity. If students do not have access to a device, the activity could be done as a whole group activity without assigning Is It Normal? through Google Classroom. If using with a whole group, the teacher should have students write their answers on whiteboards or on paper and check for mistakes. The teacher could print a Teacher Guide as use for note-taking if students need it for re-enforced instruction.


Notes or Recommendations (optional):

ALCOS 2019

Algebra II/Statistics

25. From a normal distribution, use technology to find the mean and standard deviation and
estimate population percentages by applying the empirical rule.
a. Use technology to determine if a given set of data is normal by applying the empirical rule.
b. Estimate areas under a normal curve to solve problems in context, using calculators, spreadsheets, and tables as appropriate.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: Bell Shaped Curve, Empirical Rule, Mean, Normal Distribution, Standard Deviation