Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comparing Distributions in AP

One of the toughest topics for AP Stat students is the idea of comparing distributions. I know this is a tough topic for them because it consistently shows up on the AP exam and students consistently make the same error... they don't COMPARE the distributions! Most of the students have been taught to describe a distribution using Shape, Outliers, Center, and Spread (SOCS in my classroom), but the *compare* part is a struggle for them. This year, my partner teacher and I decided to try something new to help students with this topic...

The Setup
We had already taught this topic, but from previous years, I knew that students would forget. We had worked problems in class, they had a homework problem the night before on comparing distributions, and we had talked over and over about how important comparative language was. We had done "notice/wonder" but decided to reinforce it differently this year....

The Stations
Since this topic has appeared on several AP exams, I pulled 4 of them to use as questions in class. I intentionally chose problems with different kinds of graphs (dotplot, boxplot, stemplot, and histogram) and asked students to compare the distributions. I set 6 minutes on the timer and away they went...


(I love these plastic frames! I have them in portrait and landscape. They are on my "must-have" classroom list)

After the timer buzzed, we traded problems and they repeated the process.

Time to Grade!
We graded the problems one at a time. Each time, I projected an "ideal" student response from the AP Central website and conducted a whole class discussion on why that response was scored "Essentially Correct." Each student was given a Peer Grading paper that Partner Teacher created and asked to grade their partner's paper and give them feedback. Honestly, if I had a bit more time, I would have created some "less than ideal" papers and walked them through how I wanted them to grade the paper in more detail. Maybe next time! Overall, it was a good experience on writing legibly and checking for the required elements.

The "Real" Assessment
When I graded the quizzes for that chapter, I actually left this question for the last because in the past, it has been a real weakness of my students. I am so pleased to report that of the 95 students, only a few students forgot to write using comparative language (higher/lower/wider/narrower/etc). This is such a change from previous years that I truly feel this activity was a huge part of the difference.

Overall, I was very pleased with this activity and need to figure out how to use it more often. Thanks to my #efamath friends for encouraging me this summer to use more strategies like this! :)

Being Intentional is HARD!

If you follow me on twitter, you might remember that one of my goals for this year was to "Be Intentional". In fact, I even submitted that as my actual goal for my principal/evaluation process. After 9 weeks of school, I can officially tell you that "being intentional" is hard work!

Explain please!
This summer, after reading Embedded Formative Assessment and Teach Like a Pirate, I knew that I wanted to make sure that every decision was carefully thought out, making sure that I spent time planning activities for maximum instructional time and having a better idea of where my students were on a daily basis. In some ways, I've been successful, but in other ways, I've been an utter failure!

Progress Report - 1st quarter
  • 180 blog - This summer I really wanted to make sure that every day, I was doing something photo-worthy in my classroom. Some days this works out really well, but I've had too many days where I forgot to take a photo. On the upside, there have been very few days where absolutely nothing is worth a photo! Overall, I would give myself a C+. When I do remember to take a photo, I often forget to blog it. :(

  • Integration of AP questions - This has been an utter failure. It was my hope/dream to use my ABCDE cards on a daily basis, integrating AP level Multiple Choice and Free Response questions and I've failed. I've done a couple of each, but overall, I would give myself an F on this topic. Maybe this quarter will be better.

  • Warmups - Last year in AP, I wasn't extremely happy with how I did warmups. I had them pre-printed and students turned them in each Friday for feedback. I did like that it was a spiraled review for students, but for many kids they copied their neighbor's work and lost the benefit that was there. This year, I am being very intentional about the Warmup activity that I choose. Sometimes it's a problem from the previous day, sometimes it's an introductory activity, sometimes it's some practice AP questions, but each day (for the most part) is very intentionally chosen to fit an instructional purpose. I would give myself a B+ or maybe even an A here.

  • Homework - This year in AP, I've redone how I do Homework. I swear, every year I have a different policy! :) This year, I chose to do Problem Sets that go with each Learning Target. Other than I sometimes forget until the last minute, I do overall like how I've done Homework this year. Again, I think I've earned a B+ or A.

  • Classroom D├ęcor - My classroom is beautiful this year and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. My biggest disappointment so far is that I'm still missing the "Evidence of Learning" that I really wanted to be displayed by now. I'm still trying to figure out how to handle this. When you walk into my room, you do see a comfortable environment, but there's no student work displayed, which is disappointing. Overall, I give myself a C.

  • Whiteboarding - Another utter failure. I need to figure this one out. I've read the posts, but need to figure out how to implement it. Another F. :(

  • Formative Assessment - To be perfectly honest, I need to go back and do some more reading on EFA. I've done better with exit slips than ever before, but I've not kept up with FA the way I wanted to. This really needs to be a post all its own... In fact, I think that shall be my next post! Overall grade is a C.

  • Blogging and Twitter - This is another weakness. I know that I need to read blogs and interact on twitter because I grow professionally when I do these. However, my reader has almost 700 posts and more bloggers are popping up daily thanks to the #MTBOS challenge. I can go days without reading Twitter because the time just isn't there. I need to find time for these vital communities. I give myself a D- here.

    Overall Grade - C
    Thankfully I use SBG, so this grade isn't final (YET) :)

    Shout out to @kathrynfreed for the topic of this post! :) Thanks for making me blog!
  • Monday, October 14, 2013

    #Made4Math - Normal Distribution Cards



    When you've been gone for a while, it gets harder and harder to write a post. I don't know why that is true, but it is! This year, I've taken on more administrative responsibilities and as a result, I've been working my tail off! I'm afraid to open my reader because I know I've missed some amazing posts by the MTBoS, but it is just so overwhelming! This week is Fall Break and I'm SO READY FOR A BREAK! :)

    But I did finally have time this weekend to create a Made4Math post, so that's a good thing, right? :)


    We're working on Normal Probability problems in AP Stat right now. This is one of those topics that kids just need lots of practice and I love this activity since it is self checking! There are 18 problems total and the students start with the answer side up. They flip over a card, work the problem, then find the answer in the answer pile. Flip over that card and work that problem and repeat. :)

    If you would like the file, get it HERE :)

    Maybe with Fall Break this week, I'll have a chance to catch up! Have a great week!