Teaching about the US Census

Dear heroes of Adult Numeracy education!

I wanted to share a resource developed by the CUNY Adult Literacy Program that uses math and social studies to provide a history of the US Census. Using graphs and charts, adult education students can learn from actual data gathered in past US Censuses and also explore some of the math in how the Census is used to determine political representation. 


If you use it with students, please let us know how it goes. 

How are other people using math to teach about the Census?

yours in productive struggle, 




Hi Mark!  I've just been exploring your lesson involving math and social studies and had a very nice experience discussing the beginning of it (the 1790 census, bar graph of it, and the graph showing literacy changes) with a beginning student.  While we haven't ventured into deeper stuff yet, I really loved the opportunity to invite my student to talk about what he noticed and wondered about the information and images.  We then addressed some of your questions that followed.  I was inspired by the questions and comments my student, Juan, offered.  I can see this lesson being of excellent value the more we get into it.  Thanks for sharing.

I've been loving all the great teaching resources coming from the 2020 US Census Bureau. Here's a hyperdoc I made based around the Valentine's day fact sheet they sent out. I had students complete the first two sections independently, then reviewed the answers to these sections. Then, I worked one example of how to find mean, median, mode on the board. Next, I handed out the Valentine's Day fact sheet from the Census Bureau and asked students to spend a few minutes reading the facts. Lastly, I put students into differentiated groups and told them to answer the rest of the hyperdoc questions with their groups based on the fact sheet in order to prepare for a class discussion. After groups had finished writing their answers, I had groups each give their thoughts.

This went over really well! Students enjoyed sharing their thoughts on love, Valentine's Day, and marriage. One of the main questions that came up during the discussion was, "why do we spend SO much money on Valentine's Day in America?" If you'd like to replicate the lesson, make two copies to your own drive and delete the answers from one to send to students on Google classroom. This could also be made into a handout.