Lesson 15: Americans’ Time on Task

Lesson 15: Americans’ Time on Task


Introduction to Time Use Campaign. Students will explore The New York Times multimedia graphic titled How Different Groups Spend Their Time to spark their interest about how they spend their time. They will begin to learn how to evaluate reports that make claims based on data by reading The Washington Post article Teens Are Spending More Time Consuming Social Media, On Mobile Devices.


  1. Computers

  2. Data Collection Devices

  3. Interactive Multimedia Graphic: The New York Times’ How Different Groups Spend Their Time found at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/31/business/20080801-metrics-graphic.html?_r=0

  4. Article: The Washington Post’s Teens Are Spending More Time Consuming Social Media, on Mobile Devices found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/postlive/teens-are-spending-moretime-consuming-media-on-mobile-devices/2013/03/12/309bb242-8689-11e2-98a3-b3db6b9ac586_story.html

  5. K-L-W Graphic Organizer (LMR_TR_K-L-W Chart)


evaluate, claim

Essential Concepts:

Essential Concepts:

Learning to examine other analyses is an important part of statistical thinking.


  1. Become familiar with the Time-Use Campaign Guidelines (shown at the end of this lesson), particularly the big questions, to help guide students during the campaign (see Campaign Guidelines in Teacher Resources).

  2. In pairs, ask students to make predictions based on the big questions in the Time-Use Campaign Guidelines.

  3. Next, inform students that The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data about Americans’ daily time use and that they will be exploring time use through an interactive graphic.

  4. Ask students to go to the multimedia graphic at the following URL:

  5. Students will spend 10 minutes exploring the interactive graphic. Their task is to answer the following questions (display questions to students):

    1. What variables are represented in this graphic? The variables represented are activities that Americans spend their time doing. These include sleeping, eating, traveling, socializing, etc.

    2. Explain what the graphic is telling you. The graphic shows how much time Americans over the age of 15 are spending doing these activities. This information is broken down by different categories of Americans (e.g., gender, ethnicity) and the percentage of Americans doing particular activity at a particular time (e.g., 5% of Americans are working at 6:00 am). The average time spent on a particular activity is also shown (e.g., average time spent at work for all Americans is 3 hours and 25 minutes).

    3. Where did the data come from? The data come from thousands of Americans over the age of 15 who took a survey recalling every minute of a day in 2008.

    4. What are some interesting findings? Be prepared to share. Answers will vary.

  6. Ask students to share their findings in pairs. Each pair will agree on and select one finding to share with the class. In a Whip Around, ask each pair to share their finding.

  7. Inform students that they will continue to investigate Americans’ daily time use. Using the KLW graphic organizer, read out loud the title of The Washington Post article: Teens Are Spending More Time Consuming Social Media, On Mobile Devices. Ask them to write what they know about the topic in the Know column.

    Note to Teacher: If this is the first time using KLW, please take time to provide an overview of the graphic organizer.

  8. Next, ask students to read the article individually:

  9. As they read, students may complete the Learn column of the KLW graphic organizer.

  10. Ask students to complete the Want to Learn column when they finish reading the article.

  11. When reading a newspaper, magazine, or blog that includes statistical analysis, it is important to evaluate, or think carefully, about claims that these articles state as fact.

  12. Ask students to work in teams to evaluate the article based on the questions below:

    1. Who was observed and what were the variables observed? A group of 8 to 18-year-olds were observed, and the variables observed had to do with consuming media - watching TV, listening to music, surfing the Web, playing video games, and time spent on mobile devices.

    2. What statistical questions were they trying to answer? Possible statistical question: How much time per day does today’s typical 8 to 18-year-old spend consuming media?

    3. Who collected the data? There were 3 sources cited. The Kaiser Family Foundation collected data in a 2010 study, the Pew Internet and American Life Project collected data in a 2011 study, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics collected data in 2011 with the American Time Use Survey.

    4. How was the data collected? Two were studies whose data collection method is not stated, and one was a survey.

    5. What claim(s) did the article make? Main claim: “Today’s teens spend more than 7.5 hours a day consuming media.”

    6. What are some statistics that the article used to make the claim(s)? Examples include: Teens use their cellphones to send an average of 60 texts a day. On average, high school students spent less than one hour per weekday on sports, exercise, and recreation.

  13. Select a whole group share-out/discussion strategy from the Instructional Strategies Teacher Resource to discuss the answers to the evaluation questions.

  14. Inform students that they will engage in the Time-Use Participatory Sensing campaign and will begin to collect data about their own time use. Follow the Time-Use Guidelines.

    Reminder: Once logged into the app or the browser-based version, students may go to Campaigns to see the campaigns in which they are participating. They can then add the campaign by tapping the name of the campaign. If no campaigns are visible, ask them to click the refresh option.

  15. Emphasize that this data will be collected four times per day. Students should set reminders:

    1. Before school

    2. After school

    3. In the evening

    4. Before bed

Class Scribes:

One team of students will give a brief talk to discuss what they think the 3 most important topics of the day were.