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Teacher Resources

Blame It on the Rain

On this page you will find lesson objectives, standards, instructional notes and UDL opportunities.

Estimated Time:  30-40 minutes

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will distinguish between statements of correlation and causation. 
  • Students will identify lurking variables in a given situation.

Key Common Core State Standards:

S.ID.9 Distinguish between correlation and causation.

Standards for Mathematical Practices:

MP.3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
MP.6 Attend to precision.

Instructional Notes:

In this lesson, students will explore conclusions made about given sets of data to determine the validity of the conclusion. Teachers may want to provide additional examples of a lurking variable. Through the exploration, students will learn the difference between correlation and causation, and how to identify lurking variables that prevent causation statements from being made.  Students will then have opportunities to write statements of correlation for the given scenario.

For additional instructional ideas, read the following National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Mathematics Teacher article:
Offenholley, K.H.  (February 2013).  “Bundled-Up Babies & Dangerous Ice Cream: Correlation Puzzlers.” Mathematics Teacher.  Reston:  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

> Go to Blame it on the Rain lesson

Sample Responses

For sample responses to the Algebra II Journal questions, visit the Algebra II Journal in Teacher Resources.

Blame It on the Rain - Page 4

As an optional extension or in-class activity, have students collect and/or analyze school data for the number of late students and weather.  Use this opportunity to help students distinguish between causation and correlation.  Even though there may be a higher number of late students on rainy days, it does not mean that the rain is directly causing the student tardiness.

> Go to lesson, page 4

UDL Opportunities:

Checkpoint 2.1 Clarify vocabulary and symbols
Checkpoint 2.3 Support decoding of text, mathematical notation, and symbols
The Student Resources section includes key vocabulary clarifications that will support the decoding of text and mathematical language.  It may be helpful to introduce some of the key terms prior to the start of this lesson.

Checkpoint 3.3 Guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation
Checkpoint 9.3 Develop self-assessment and reflection
In this lesson, students have multiple opportunities to distinguish between statements of correlation and causation.   Consider having students create graphic organizers or other visual representations to demonstrate their understanding of these terms.

Checkpoint 4.1:  Vary the methods for response and navigation
Checkpoint 5:  Provide options for expression and communication
Checkpoint 7.1 Optimize individual choice and autonomy

Consider providing opportunities for students to analyze newspapers and additional online resources to search for statements of causation and correlation.