Lesson plan

Lesson 12: Standard Deviation

teaches Alabama State Standards Geo-11.
teaches Alabama State Standards Geo-10.b.
teaches Alabama State Standards Geo-10.a.
teaches Alabama State Standards Geo-7.
teaches Arizona State Standards A1.S-ID.A.3
teaches Arizona State Standards A1.S-ID.A.2
teaches Common Core State Standards HSS-ID.A.3 http://corestandards.org/Math/Content/HSS/ID/A/3
teaches Common Core State Standards HSS-ID.A.2 http://corestandards.org/Math/Content/HSS/ID/A/2
teaches Common Core State Standards MP2 http://corestandards.org/Math/Practice/MP2
teaches Colorado State Standards HS.S-ID.A.3.
teaches Colorado State Standards HS.S-ID.A.2.
teaches Georgia State Standards MGSE9-12.S.ID.3.
teaches Georgia State Standards MGSE9-12.S.ID.2.
teaches Kansas State Standards S.ID.2.
teaches Kansas State Standards S.ID.1.
teaches Minnesota State Standards
teaches Pennsylvania State Standards CC.2.4.HS.B.1.

Lesson 12: Standard Deviation

The mathematical purpose of this lesson is to introduce standard deviation and understand that it is a measure of variability. Previously, students understood the meaning of MAD and IQR; standard deviation fits into their understanding as another measure of variability. Future lessons build on this lesson when students interpret standard deviation in context. Standard deviation is a measure of variability calculated by:

  • Finding the square of the distance from the mean to each value.
  • Then finding the sum of these square distances and dividing by n (the number of values in the data set).
  • Finally, finding the square root of this sum.

When students manipulate data to achieve various specified measures of center or variability they are engaging in MP2 because they have to make use of the structure underlying standard deviation as a measure of variability.

Note that in this unit, all standard deviations refer to the population standard deviation (\(\sigma\)) calculation rather than the sample standard deviation (\(s\)).

Lesson overview

  • 12.1 Warm-up: Notice and Wonder: Measuring Variability (5 minutes)
  • 12.2 Activity: Investigating Standard Deviation (20 minutes)
  • 12.3 Activity: Investigating Variability (10 minutes)
    • Includes "Are you Ready for More?" extension problem
  • Lesson Synthesis
  • 12.4 Cool-down: True or False: Reasoning with Standard Deviation (5 minutes) 

Learning goals:

  • Comprehend (in spoken and written language) standard deviation as a measure of variability.
  • Use technology to compute standard deviation.

Learning goals (student facing):

  • Let’s learn about standard deviation, another measure of variability.

Learning targets (student facing):

  • I can describe standard deviation as a measure of variability.
  • I can use technology to compute standard deviation.

Required materials:

  • Statistical technology

Required preparation:

  • Acquire devices that can run GeoGebra (recommended) or other spreadsheet technology.
  • It is ideal if each student has their own device. (A GeoGebra Spreadsheet is available under Math Tools.)
  • Students should have access to technology for calculating standard deviation and mean. Optional activities require technology for creating dot plots and calculating standard deviation, mean, and IQR.


  • standard deviation - A measure of the variability, or spread, of a distribution, calculated by a method similar to the method for calculating the MAD (mean absoluate deviation). The exact method is studied in more advanced courses.
  • Access the complete Algebra 1 glossary.


  • This lesson builds on the standards: CCSS.HSS-ID.A.1MS.S-ID.1CCSS.HSS-ID.A.2MS.S-ID.2MO.A1.DS.A.1MO.A1.DS.A.2






IM Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 is copyright 2019 Illustrative Mathematics and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

The Illustrative Mathematics name and logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be used without the prior and express written consent of Illustrative Mathematics.