Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 3rd day of no school, my true love gave to me.....

I am getting rather bored here at home... I am hoping some of this ice melts soon!

Here's some really cool links I've found today though...

Correlation lab activities - Love this idea - totally stealing it for next year! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice Day!!!

Yesterday it was 75*, then an artic cold front moved through and now we have 1/4" sheet of ice on the roads, so I get a day off!!! Of course, I am still up at the normal time, I just don't have to stress about getting ready :) However, my BIL, who also works for my school district, does have to go in because he's on the grounds crew.

On the up-side, I got 90% of my grading done yesterday, just have a couple of sets of quizzes left to grade and write the final for my uni class. Other than that, I will rest, read, make some candles, and just enjoy my day!

My only hope is that we have school tomorrow because our finals are Wed/Thurs, otherwise they will postpone them until January :(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My New Hobby :)

I mentioned a few posts back that I had taken up a new hobby. I love the smell of candles but hate when I pay $10 or more for a candle that doesn't smell very well! I am deadly afraid of flames (totally my mom's fault!), so I am more of a "tart" or "melts" fan. Those are small discs that you put in a tart burner (mine is electric) that warms the tarts, melting them to release the scent. Each tart will last about 8 hours and they are very cheap to make. Hubby isn't feeling very well today so we stayed home rather than going to do the family thing, so that meant I was free to make lots of tarts! The above picture is my kitchen counter filled with my tart stuff. These are soooo addictive! I got 10 pounds of wax in the mail yesterday and I've already gone through 2 pounds! EEKKK! :)

The yellow is Warm Vanilla Sugar
The pinky/red is Home Sweet Home
The blue is Pina Colada
and the brown (not pictured) is Butter Pecan Pie

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pi (Chart) Day

The other day my students were talking about Pi Day in Pre-Calculus. (That's March 14th for those non-mathy readers). I am thinking of doing Pi Chart Day where the students have to gather some categorical data and display it as a Pi Chart in the food medium of their choice (cake, pie, pizza, cookie cake, etc). Has anyone tried this? It would be a class competition with bonus points going to the top entries..

On a separate note, I don't know how many of you read the comments, but a recent comment pointed me to which has some interesting pictures and commentary of statistics in the real world. I liked the normal distribution model from the dining booth myself :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Must-Have Resource

I don't know how many of you subscribe to the NCTM Mathematics Teacher magazine, but that that one of the must-haves for an AP Stat teacher IMO. Every month, there is at least one article that can be adapted to the AP classroom. On the up-side, while it is an expensive subscription, you get access to the online archives for free :)

The November issue was a focus issue for Statistics and as I browsed through, I realized that many of the "Media Clip" articles are *perfect* worksheets for AP and Pre-AP classrooms. The November issue had a probability problem and a confidence interval problem and I am expanding the probability problem to use tomorrow in class.

The December issue had a piece-wise function and a proprtions problem. The best part of these articles are that they are tied to a newspaper clipping, so it's very motivational for the classroom teacher to look to the "real world" to write a problem.

The more I think about it, I wish our curriculum person would type these up every month and pass them out to the appropriate teachers - what a wealth of knowledge!!!

I also use the calendar problems as "Weekly Challenges" in my Geometry class - Since you can cut/paste from the online archives, I just open the calendar each month and copy the problems I would want to use into a word document for future reference.

A Spur of the Moment Assignment...

If you read the previous post, you know it's been a rough year at times. In times like this, I seem to lose the creative spark, so I'm always grateful when it returns!

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a lady I used to teach with. "Jane" and I taught Stat together, she had taught it the previous year, so she was my mentor. "Jane" moved at the end of that year and had not taught stat for several years at her new school, until she inherited it again last year. "Jane" asked me about the video series "Against All Odds", which is available for free on the website. AAO has a sequel series called "Decisions Through Data" and that series comes with Video Guides, etc. "Jane" wanted to know if I had used these videos and their accompanying guides. This sparked my creativity :)

At the Uni, we are about to take a test over inference, including t-tests, proportions, and chi-square tests. I decided to make the "Against All Odds" series into an assignment. Each student was to choose one of the videos that covered the material we are about to test over and create a "study-guide" that other students could use to help them study for the upcoming test. The study guides were due this weekend and I just finished uploading them all to our class website and I must say, I'm pretty impressed with the quality of their work. I am thinking this may be a great review assignment for my AP kiddos for either their final or the AP exam.

I thought I would toss this idea out there for you guys in case any of you are needing a review idea. My students seemed to enjoy it - each video is about 30 minutes in length and while they are older, they do have some great information in them. I will probably create study guides myself for each of these videos over the summer so I will have them on those days when half my class is gone (like this week! LOL) and project the videos on the Promethean board. Could also be useful for students who are absent or for remediation after a bad test/quiz...

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Ups, Downs, and Down-and-Outs...

For some reason, about this time every year, I get down and out. This year has been trying for both personal and professional reasons.

Last week, I had a melt-down... I had graded all day on Saturday and took a couple hours on Sunday to read (OMG - I took time for *myself*). Then, afterwards, I felt guilty! WTH??? I guarantee none of my students feel guilty if they don't get all of their homework done... Why should I deny myself time to rest and relax? Why should I be focused on them 100% of the time rather than my family and my sanity?

How did I solve my dilemna? Take up a new hobby of course!! LOL.. I decided life was too short - that I was personally putting all this pressure on myself and at the end of the day, all it does is add to my insanity. So I decided to take up candle-making (tart-making if you want specifics). Starting Wednesday evening, I've now made 4 batches, gave most of them away already, and have the stuff for 4 more batches in my kitchen right now. How liberating to have a hobby that is about ME rather than school! :)

Since Wednesday, I have been more able to focus on my kiddos, which makes me a better teacher. I have decided that I have been too focused on the details (like grading), and not enough on the stuff that truly matters (like quality lessons, sharing ideas with other teachers, etc). I've decided that I need to recenter myself and get back my creativity and love for the planning rather than the dread of the grading.

One of the ways I've tried to give back was through this blog, but as you notice, I've not done that much lately. I want to get back to the "check out this neat lesson" and "here's a cool link to share", etc...

I'm so grateful that there is a place to vent (somewhat anonymously), a diary of sorts that people can read and hopefully know that other people go through spouts of self-doubt. I'm grateful that this week is a time of celebration, to appreciate family, good food, and the blessings we have (and of course a few days to sleep in!).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Polling, Margin of Error, and the Election

Most of the time, hubby and I listen to NPR while in the car. On Saturday morning, while running around town frantically because I was about to buy a new car *woot*, there was an interesting tidbit about polling and margin of error for confidence intervals. I saved it and plan to use it for my uni kiddos next week when we cover this topic. I thought some of you might find it useful as well

NPR story on Polling

I posted this same link on the AP Stat Listserv and one of the other teachers had a blog about margin of error and common errors in opinion polls - I *love* the "urn" example!!

Pat's Blog on Polling

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My dad....

My dad, a wonderful man, is dying. In the spring, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, so in April, he had his bladder removed. All of the tests were perfectly clear and things went very well. Then, 2 weeks ago, on Sept 17, our world fell apart. He had been having some coughing and congestion, so they did a chest xray which showed spots on his lungs. Since then, he's had a CT scan, a PET scan, and a MRI, which all show intense involvement thoughout his entire body, including a spot on his brain. The doctors can only make him comfortable at this point, although they are doing radiation for the brain to slow that progression.

My dad is a great guy - he was a Marine and served our country in the Korean War. As a member of the "Frozen Chosin", he was lucky to make it out of there with just some shrapnel and frostbite. He received a Purple Heart for his service.

My dad married my mom when I was 4 years old and literally raised me as his own. My biological father often remarks that he could not have picked a better man to take care of us.

Some of my favorite memories...
I remember when I first met him. He was sitting on my mom's piano bench wearing a ball cap. After hiding behind my mom for a while, I went over and took off his ball cap, revealing a very bald head! I screamed and ran back to my mom :)

I remember, soon after they married, he built me a playhouse. It was dark red and the bottom level was a sandbox (not a good thing in the country btw - lots of barn cats and sandboxes dont mix!!!). The upper level had a railing all around it and a little tykes kitchen. I *loved* that playhouse!!

I remember a lot of weekend afternoons spent fishing. We would go to the hilltop store and get bait and lunchmeat for sandwiches, then spend the day going from pond to pond. Dad liked to walk around the entire pond while fishing. If he caught something, he'd stay for a while, if he got all the way back to the truck, it was time to go!

I remember one Easter Sunday when we had gone to church, dad sat with us as always. When we got home, the entire yard was decorated with eggs and toys and candy. It always amazed me how he must have gone back home, decorated, and back to church in the time it took for Sunday school.

I remember a Christmas morning when I got up and there were ashy footprints all over the living room carpet, cookie crumbs on the table and a piece of red velour hanging from the fireplace opening as if Santa had ripped his pants open..

I remember when I was in 2nd grade, one of the convenience stores in town was giving away a Cabbage Patch Kid. You could sign up everytime you bought a coffee. Dad went in *every* morning to put my name in. On the day of teh drawing, I had actually gotten sick at school, so mom came to check me out of school and take me home. She stopped at the store to get some 7-up and my name was posted as the winner of the doll. They said they had actually drawn 3 times and my name was all 3 tickets!!

While he obviously showed love, it wasn't until about 10 years ago, that he ever said "I love you". What an amazing man.... I will miss him so much :(

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frog Ponds :)

Ok, now that the rant is over, it's time to share ideas again!! Tomorrow should be a fun day - I hope!!

This summer, I found the following frog pond game at Dollar Tree, so I quickly bought 8 sets for my class. Tomorrow we will be using them to gather some data. Here's a picture of the frog pond setup:

This year, I am trying to make a real effort to "teach" using data we collect in class. Here's the datasheet for the frog pond.

In Geometry, we are playing a review game as well, so I'm hoping that tomorrow is a nice, easy day overall :)

Now to go veg and watch some TV - I'm at a stopping place early for once!!

A Mini-Rant

Do you ever feel that your best just isn't good enough? Sometimes I feel that way. I bust my ass every day, spending evenings and weekends finding creative ways to teach my students, but we rarely hear a "wow, you guys did a great job! Thanks for all of your hard work and effort".. instead we hear "Cool - let's see if you can do better"

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for continuous improvement, I do push myself to do better, I am a mostly self-motivated person... but it's still sometimes hard to constantly hear how you could have done better. Eventually you wear down and wonder "why even try?" *sigh*

This mini-rant is a product of test scores, which all districts now use to determine too much about the classroom. Rather than celebrating that 89% of our on-level Geometry kiddos passed their state-mandated Geometry exam (compared to 68% overall throughout the state), we are given a list of our "weaknesses" and asked to create a plan to do better. For me, one weakness was right triangle trig. Now considering that I covered SOHCAHTOA on Friday before the exam started on Monday, I know this was a weakness, but I was tickled pink that my students overall got ANY of those right!

I really try to be a positive person, so I apologize for this rant, but I'm tired and frustrated of demands placed on teachers without so much as a pat on the back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A couple of updates :)

Ahhh - can I start the weekend over? I had a fairly relaxing weekend at the lake (minus a snafu with my dad), but with no time to grade, now I feel under the gun :)
However, before getting my nose to the grindstone, I wanted to give you guys an update on a few items around here...

The Professional Day....
The presentation went VERY well. I was pleased with how it turned out. Major kudos to Dan Yates, who had already typed many of the AP questions and sent them to e so that I was able to copy and paste the stem of the problem and graphics and then just add in the adapted questions for the Algebra and Pre-Calc classes. The handout ended up being 12 pages front/back and the other teachers seemed to really appreciate it. I was so nervous, but in the end, it was worth it.

The Geometry Challenge....
When I posted the pictures of my classroom, one was of a bulletin board called the Geometry Challenge. This is my Geometry extra-credit board, where kids can weekly earn extra credit for answering a problem (problems come from the NCTM calendar from the magazine Mathematics Teacher). I print the posters using a free software called PagePlus and paste the pages together. The kids seem to really enoy this weekly puzzle. Here's a pic of the board w/ the PagePlus pages:

I hope things are going well for all of you! Off to grade a mountain of papers :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I need your help!!!

I was oh so proud of my accomplishments this weekend... until at 6:30pm on Sunday I remembered that I'm scheduled to present at a Staff Development day on Friday! EEKKK! So now I need your help in brainstorming :)

When this year's AP Stat exam was released for teachers to see the questions, I noticed that there were 2 questions that had parts that were related to Algebra content. One of them had students creating a scatterplot and the other had students describing the slope of a regression line. Of course this was in May, so I asked the AP Calc teacher if she was interested in co-presenting a pre-AP math session for the math teachers at my school. Of course with the extreme busy-ness of the summer, I didn't think too much about the session...

Of course, now it's August and that session is just a few days away! So I need your help. The title of our session is "Adapting AP Materials to the Pre-AP classroom". I have about 25 minutes to fill and I am at a loss as to what to do.

So pretend (ha!) you are a pre-AP teacher (Algebra/Geoemtry/Pre-Calc).... :)

What would YOU like to get out of this workshop?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My class is *finally* done!!!

Holy moly - it took *forever*, but my room is finally done! I left school at 7:40pm and the first bell will ring Thursday morning at 7:45am! This is the longest it's ever taken me, but I did do a bunch of new decor, so I'll blame it on that! heheh

Here's the view of the front of my room. Notice all the new posters (woohoo! Thanks to the free poster site!) - you'll also see that I decided to matte them! The hanging thing on the left is where I place makeup work each day, sorted by hour. Behind my podium chair, I wish you could see the spaghetti tangle of cords - I did the best I could to bring order to an unorderly mess :)
Working our way counterclockwise, this is the "cabinet" side of the room. Class sets, turn in box, staplers, etc. The four small posters on the right side came from Walmart for $1 each (woot!)

Moving on around, I must give kudos to hubby for his 1/2/3 posters that he made me. These correspond to Costa's Levels of Questioning. The gray box below the 1 poster is for their POD folders (Problem of the Day). The corkboards are where I post grades.

This is the back right side of my room. Notice the bulletin board still to be hung on the wall :) Student bulletins will go there. Our back walls are both magnetic and writeable, so that's where my birthdays go. The file crates are where my aide files papers to be returned. Also, more free posters!!!

The other back corner. More posters :) Also on the back wall is an "In the News" banner that I got from Dollar Tree. Under it, my aide (who came in today to help me - is that not amazing!) put up articles and comics that I cut out of the newspaper that pertain to math or statistics. You can also see my lame attempt at a bulletin board - give me some slack here, it's been 10 years since I taught middle school! I want to do a Geometry Challenge of the week where I post a math problem (this one is from the NCTM calendar this month). Correct submissions will earn a bonus point on their test.

And finally back around to my desk area. Not much to report here - just lots of storage LOL

I am so glad that is done for another year - what a mess it was! :)
Now to bed - 5:45 will come too durned early for me!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Study Skills....

OMG - School starts *TOMORROW*....

I am sooo not ready! But ready or not, the kiddos will be here on Thursday... EEEKKK!

So, in my last minute style, I am working on the study skills information I want to give to my classes (Stat particulary).

As I've mentioned before, I don't think that many of my students have been taught how to take notes, etc, so I want to think it out here if you don't mind!

AP Statistics
First day of school!!!
Passing period - I am at the door welcoming them and handing out a student information form for them to fill out. A first-day seating chart is on the board with textbooks and syllabus on their desks. Bell rings. Students continue filling out info sheet. Then we get into "What is Statistics" to give them a taste of what data is all about. Their homework assignment is to read Chapters 1 and 2 (10 pages) and take notes on it for discussion tomorrow. If time allows (12-15 minutes), do AP question 2000-#1 (or give as homework???)

Students come in. A notecard is on each desk with a warmup question on the board (Why did you take this class maybe? or something about their mathematical history?). I'll go around the room to look at their notes from the assigned reading and take up the 2000-#1 if I give it as homework. We will then briefly discuss how to take notes from a textbook (see handout). After that, we are ready to jump into the lecture for Chapter 2, so start with a handout about notetaking, then they take notes while I lecture. Also discuss notes posted online.

Not sure yet where it fits in....
- Discussing policies from syllabus
- Assigning study groups - want this in place while discussing notes - want to use the "compare notes w/ your buddy" as a study strategy and working through examples in class.

*sigh* Can I go back to May and have a re-do???

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More Random Thoughts...

The vote is still tied on the matte dilemna :) I decided not to go laminate them until I have had more time to think about it. I plan to go to my classroom on Tuesday, so as long as they are laminated by then, we're good :)

Do you ever have something that you love and hate? For me, it's back-to-school...

Why I love it:
- New school supplies!!
- A clean slate
- A time to try new things

Why I hate it:
- I never feel ready
- I get very overwhelmed and stressed by what is left to do
- I like sleeping in :)

But, ready or not, Aug 11th will be here soon. I am not at all ready for it, so this next week will be pure hell I'm sure.

When on vacation with my parents, we went to the Half-Price book store (Love that place!!) and I found Fred Jones - Tools for Teaching for $10. I'm about halfway through and I am really enjoying it. But it has brought up a few issues that I've never done at the HS level, so I thought I'd ask you guys! To be perfectly honest, this blog has been way more theraputic than I ever imagined. I did not think I would write as frequently as I do, but I really appreciate the opportunity to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper, and of course I value the input that you guys give me!

Anyway, one of the ideas from Dr. Jones's book was to post your rules. Since I now know that Office Depot can print posters for me, I am thinking of doing this. Here are my rules that I put into my syllabus (with more explanation of course!)... should I print them to hang on the wall?

Classroom Expectations:
- You are expected to attend class and to be on time
- You are expected to actively participate in classroom discussion and activities
- You are expected to bring your materials to class everyday
- You are expected to assume responsibility for your own learning
- You are expected to respect everyone’s right to learn without distractions

The other thing he mentions is icebreakers. I have never done an icebreaker, opting instead to do a review activity. However, I do use a study buddy/partner system, so I am wondering about somehow merging these two. I have thought about doing some kind of compare/contrast Venn diagram, followed up with a partner problem worksheet - which is where partner A does the first column, partner B does the second column. The problems are different, but the answers are the same. (This would be for Geometry btw)

One of the other teachers at my school does "groups" in her AP Calc class. She has everyone stand up and separate by which half of town they live in. They find someone in their group to buddy up with. This ensures they have someone they can call/meet with that lives somewhat close. The pair then finds a pair from the other half of town and this group of 4 then becomes a team. This team then meets as a study group, review sessions, etc - each test, the teacher calculates the highest team average and they get a silly prize. I've thought about using this in the AP stat class, thinking the peer tutoring aspect might be a good one.

I would love to hear from you guys - let me know if I'm on the right track here or not.

Friday, August 1, 2008

To Matte or Not to Matte

In a few hours, I'm headed to the local teacher store to laminate some posters that I had made. I found them on a free print-a-poster website and enlarged them to 11x17 and had them printed for 98 cents at Office Depot.

Now I have to decide if I want to matte them with construction paper to "frame" them. That's where you come in :) Help me decide...

To Matte:

Or Not to Matte:

Is the question - leave your answer in the comments!! :) Thanks!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Home from Vacation :)

Do you ever have a whorlwind week that just exhausts you? :) If so, then you've been on vacation with my parents!!! I had to take naps and they were still going strong! (Mom is 71 and stepdad is 77)

Hubby and I went up on Friday night when he got off work and had a lovely dinner with my Dad/Stepmom before heading over to my Mom's house. Mom lives about an hour away from us and she wanted to leave Saturday morning at 4am to head to Wisconsin. My stepdad's sister lives there and is not in the best of health, so we wanted to make sure to see her while we still had the chance. As with all vacations, we had a couple of false starts before finally setting out about 4:45am. We drove for 11 hours total (plus pit stops and breakfast), arriving in Madison about 5:30pm. We went to see my aunt for a few minutes before checking into our hotel.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast, then it was off to the House on the Rock. I love this place! For $26, you can tour the entire grounds, including the world's largest carousel, the circus room, the streets of yesterday, the infinity room, etc. It is an amazing experience, but you are soon overwhelmed by all of the *stuff* that this guy collected. On the way home, I was worn out - we had spent about 5 hours touring through all of the grounds, so we stopped for dinner then did a bit of shopping. Madison has a 2-story Walmart, which was fascinating to me :) The first floor is a parking garage and you ride up an escalator to the store upstairs. When you come down to your car, there is even a escalator for your shopping cart... hubby wanted to keep riding that just for the cart fun :)

On Monday, we started our day with breakfast at Perkins, which is a neat diner-like chain with excellent food :) Then we were off to the aboretum (sp?) before going to Henry Vilas Zoo. The Zoo is in the middle of Madison, not too far from our hotel and is totally free. We did leave a donation of course! It was one of the best zoos I've ever been to! We spent about 3 hours there, then off to lunch at Culvers, which is a burger chain up there. Then we were off to Cave of the Mounds, just west of Madison for a tour. I have always been fascinated by caves - they are such geological marvels!

Tuesday, we started our day at Perkins once again, then off to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and the Butterfly hatchery. Oh my goodness - what a GORGEOUS place! I could have spent all day in the gardens with a book and the waterfall beside me! Then off for a bit more shopping. On Sunday, when we had headed to the House on the Rock, we had noticed a cheese factory on the way, so we went to the Arena cheese factory to purchase some gifts. Since we were so close, we went to Talieson, which is Frank Lloyd Wright's homestead and took pictures of his home, the Midway farm, the Hillside school, and Unity Chapel, where he was orignally buried. His remains are no longer there, as his last wife's dying wish was for him to be buried in Arizona with her at Talieson West. Since the Talieson tour was $80/person, we stayed on county roads and took pictures from public access areas :)

Wednesday started the long trek back home. We left Madison at 5:30am and got back to Mom's about 6:00pm. Hubby and I pulled into our driveway about 7:30pm and totally exhausted. This weekend is a time for rest and school work :)

I will get pics uploaded as soon as I can! Between us and Mom, we took over 800 pictures this week!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I think I'm getting old because if I don't write it down....

This week, I've been reading various teacher forums and message boards ( and One of the posts that commonly appears is about organization, lesson plan books, etc, so I decided to share my lesson plan book.

I have tried all sorts of commerical lesson plan books but they never worked for me. I needed an "agenda" of sorts to keep me organized - complete with lots of to-do list space, however I could never find one that fit my needs. (See Dan Meyer's blog dy/dan for more on to-do lists)

Thankfully, with the power of the internet, I was able to do some searching for agenda formats and piece together one of my own. I print out a year's worth (52 weeks) of these sheets, hole punch them and put them into a presentation folder - one of those that looks like a regular 3 prong folder w/ an acetate cover. Each week, the current sheet is on top, with older ones cycling to the back. I love this format because I have room for all of my to-do lists, appointment reminders, things that have to be done on a specific day, etc.

Two other must-haves for me organization-wise:
Printfree's yearly calendar - This is vital for me when dealing with pacing of my courses.
Monthly calendars for my students - I love these Word calendars because I can type my plans into them, print them out and hand them to my students for reference.

What do you use for organization?

P.S. - I had some more rambling thoughts last night but didn't want to make a new post :) So here they are...
I'm always on the lookout for new posters :) Here are some free printable ones if you have a color printer or you can save them off and take them to Kinko's to be enlarged...

Also, I really want to foster positive thinking in my classroom, so yesterday I found a you-tube video that I think I may show at the beginning of the year as kids are filling in their info sheets. I also thought about showing similar videos right before tests (during the passing period) to help the kids think positively. Any ideas??

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lack of Motivation....

I have 3 weeks until I report to school... however, due to changes at my school, I'm not quite positive of my schedule yet. I know I will have 1 hour of AP Stat at the HS, the uni class of Intro Stats, but I don't know yet how many Geometry classes I will have at the HS because I may have to take on an AVID elective class. With 3 weeks left in summer and lots of uncertainity, I have not been as productive as I should be :( I know I need to get things to the copy shop ASAP, but until I know how many sections of Geometry I will be teaching, it's difficult to send things to the copy shop because I don't know how many copies to make. Thankfully I redid all of Geometry last year, so I don't need a lot of prep time this summer to whip it into shape.

That all said, I am struggling with getting things done. The ideas in my head keep swarming and I can't make them stop. I spent some time last week brainstorming with a friend, but that just made the confusion in my head worse :) I hate having to pin down to an idea because a better one might come along soon.

To make matters worse, I have had a very disjointed summer - this past week and this next week are the first time all summer that I have been home for two weeks in a row. Today (Sunday) is the first weekend all summer that I haven't just returned from a trip or prepping to take a new one.

What I'm suffering from is due to lack of motivation.... not even the school supply aisle has cheered me up :) So, instead, I'm turning to you! Help me out - what new things are you doing in your classrooms this year? What ideas do you have to share with others?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone...

It hit me yesterday... the kiddos come back in one (yes one!!!) month!! EEKKK!!!!! All together this summer, I have been gone for 3.5 weeks for staff development (and another week for meetings at my school), so it has been a very busy summer and I've not had a lot of down time overall. Starting this week, I am "home" for the rest of the summer (other than 5 days vacation w/ my family), so I'm trying to get things off my to-do list and sent to the copy shop.

One of my previous posts dealt with some changes I wanted to make. Since I value your opinions, I decided to post some of the changes as I get them finished....

First up is my previous notebook idea...
I knew I needed to come up with a rubric/grading sheet to help make life easier. I decided to modify my old assignment sheet and expand on it to list out the materials I wanted in their notebook and in the order I wanted it to appear. Here is a copy of the newly revised Unit 3 assignment sheet. I should also note that I decided to collect notebooks each unit rather than quarterly. This may end up being a hassle, but I'm willing to try it.

Since one of my goals this year is to work on study skills, I am requesting evidence of student note-taking as well as a summary sheet for each chapter that forces them to reflect on that chapter's material. The summary sheet is an adaptation/compilation of Power Notes from AVID plus I-can statements from a blog I read last week plus a bit of self-assessment and peer tutoring. I hope it works as well as it does in my head. heheh

I would love to hear your thoughts!! I look forward to your comments :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Week at a Glance

First I must apologize... I had planned to document the AVID summer institute, but I did not. We were busy from the time we got up til the time we went to bed. Morning strands (content areas) lasted from 8-12 each morning, then we met with our site teams in the afternoon. We had 8 people from our district on our site team, so after lunch each day, we met back at the hotel around 2pm to have our site team meeting. Typically these meetings lasted until 5ish, then we met for dinner around 5:30. Thankfully our hotel was within walking distance of the West End as well as the trolley to West Village and Uptown. While this was an exhausting week, I always come away feeling very energized for the new year. I love working with other teachers in my strand as well as my site team.

On Friday, our presenters had us write ourselves postcards, with one side decorated with a "mind map" of our week. On the other side, we wrote ourselves a note to remind ourselves of the ideas we had this week that we wanted to do next year. I thought it was a very neat way to finish out the week.

Now to leave you with some quotes from the workshop...
"If, as teachers of mathematics, we don't take the time to teach them [students] how to read a math textbook, no one else will" - Jim, presenter

"I'm a much better tutor in classes I don't know well because I question more. In math I have to bite my lip to not tell them the answer" - Jim, presenter

"If learning is not taking place, neither is teaching" - Keynote speaker

"If a student fails 2 classes, 1 of which is Algebra 1, they have an 80% chance of dropping out" - Keynote speaker

"There are no shortcuts to a place worth going" - Eddie, luncheon speaker

"Don't look down on someone else unless you are helping them up" - Eddie, luncheon speaker

As always, I appreciate you stopping in to read about my adventures. If you have the opportunity to go to an AVID summer institute, I encourage you to go. It is one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my career. Now I'm home for a few days (yay) before going away for the holiday. Until next time, take care :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Streetcar Named Matilda

Well, here we are at the AVID summer conference. We left the high school yesterday in 2 vans to venture down to Dallas, TX for the conference. Other than a short (ahem) detour (aka, we were LOST!), we made it here without too much drama. It was nice to visit (aka gossip) with other teachers from the school about the goings-on since Memorial Day.

Today, roomie and I got to sleep in (woohoo). There were optional meetings starting at 9:30am, but neither of us were required to be there, so we were able to use the time to sleep in, read, take a walk to Dallas's West End shopping district, etc, before going to register for the conference. After registering, a few of us visited while waiting on the keynote speaker. The keynote was presented by the super of Midland ISD and I felt his speech was very well done. Then it was off to the first site team meeting. Our district director (DD) split us into two groups. She kept the teachers that were new to the AVID program with her to learn about the background, our goals, etc. The remaining 2 teachers and myself have been involved in the program for a while and our goal was to define the curriculum for each grade level. We got a lot done, so we headed back to the hotel a bit early to type it up.

The hotel is a nice hotel in downtown Dallas - however, internet access costs $15.10 a day!!!! It is complimentary to the "president club members", so I quickly joined the (free) President's club and talked them into letting me have internet access now instead of on my next visit LOL!

We all met for dinner in the lobby and took a vintage streetcar named Matilda (built in 1927 in Australia) to the West Village for dinner. It was a delightful ride and I took pictures, but they haven't arrived in my email box yet :) We visited for a while at dinner, then took a different streetcar back to the hotel where it's now time to curl up with my book and crash...

Tomorrow we meet in the mornings for our "strands", which are content level (mine is math obviously), then another site team meeting in the afternoon. I am looking forward to the morning strand, I really learned a lot last year.

As with all adventures, I'll update you tomorrow :) Until then, have a great day!

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Rambling Thoughts...

Due to this summer's schedule, I am having to fit in school work whenever I can. My last day of school was May 27th, had the next day off, then meetings on the 29th and 30th. Got another few days off before leaving for the reading on June 4th. Got back into town June 12th and slept for a couple of days (seriously!), then I'm off this week. I leave again Sunday for another workshop and will be back on the 27th. The following week is the 4th of July and we'll head to the lake for the weekend, then I'll stay and work with my sister the next week, then I'm off for a couple of weeks before vacation with my family. Then it's August *sigh*. I'm tired just thinking about it!

Anyway, due to the craziness listed above, I'm working on school items at a somewhat leisurely pace, yet with the ticker in the back of my head counting down the days....

Since I now have a new homework policy (thanks ap-calc listserv!!) and have plans to teach how to read a textbook (a vital skill IMO), I then needed to figure out how to assess the notes.

I've never had students turn in their binders mainly because it was rather intimidating to see 30 binders stacked on my desk. However, due to the note issue, I think I am going to have the AP stat kiddos turn in their binders 4 times a year (fall break, winter break, spring break, and after the AP exam). Each quarter then, I will assess their notebook for the material from that quarter. I want their binder organized in sections (Important Papers [syllabus, formula sheet, calendars, etc], Unit 0, Unit 3, Unit 1, Unit 2, ..., AP Review, etc...). Within each unit, the work should be in chronological order (assignment sheet, vocabulary list, chapter notes, chapter HW (which is of course optional), chapter handouts, chapter quiz/project, next chapter's stuff, test review). And.. instead of the "retake" idea for homework, I will have the HW in their binder be extra credit towards that quarter (which is such a small amount that it doesn't mean anything, but they seem to think it does! LOL). That means I will need a rubric and maybe a table of contents (?) for checking student organization. If you do a notebook in your class - can you share a rubric???

Late Work...
Another issue that annoys the heck out of me is late work. In the past, I have given my stat kiddos some control over this, but I've not found that it works too well. I had been giving them "late passes" that they could use when they needed to in order to turn something in late. Most kiddos though, try to abuse this policy, so this year I'm going back to what I do for my geometry classes. It is due the day it's due. If you turn it in 1 day late, it's automatic 80% credit, after that it's 50% credit. In Geometry, I actually go around and pick up paper from each student. If they don't have it, they fill out a form for me documenting why they don't have it ready on the due date. It works rather well in Geometry, so I'm going to give it a shot in AP.

Review Quizzes...
One of the mandates of my district are "Essential Elements"... which simply means we have to identify in each of our courses what we consider to be vital information. For several years, in AP, I've done vocabulary for these EE's. Another district mantra is "Don't give them permission to forget"... in other words, many kids simply "rent" the information for the test and don't really "own" it for the long term. Part of our district's goals is to make sure students retain for the long term, therefore our assessments are supposed to be cumulative. I do have some cumulative elements in my AP class, but not so much on assessments, so this year I am merging these two district goals into "Review Quizzes". Each week, I will give a RQ that has 5 vocabulary words and 5 AP-style multiple choice questions from anything we've covered so far. (Oh - and we have to do an item analysis on these for the purposes of remediation *g*).

and my last new change...

For the past couple of years, I've done PODs (Problem of the Day). These have been multiple choice questions, but since I am putting the MC on the RQs, I am changing the PODs to be more conceptual type questions from their reading and lecture notes. For example:
1) Your classroom "buddy" was absent when we learned how to check for outliers in a dataset. Explain step-by-step how to do this process for your friend.
2) What is the main difference you should look for when determining if a probability distribution follows a binomial model or a geometric model?
3) How are segmented bar graphs related to the chi-square test for two-way tables?
4) Name some advantages and disadvantages to creating a stemplot.
5) If you need to take a sample of our HS population, describe a way that you could do this using a cluster sample.
Each Friday they will turn in their POD sheet and I will pick a random day to grade. I'm hoping this daily writing practice will help them in learning technical writing - which should help on tests, quizzes, and the AP exam.

Well, I think that's it for now... as always, if you have feedback, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ramblings about Next Year...

I would appreciate any thoughts you guys have about the following rambles (regarding my HS class)...

Taking Notes....
I'm pretty sure that most students have not been taught how to take notes. Since my school starts on a Thursday, I am thinking of taking that Friday to teach them HOW to take Cornell Notes. (See neat Cornell note maker here)

Then, we will move on to reading the first part of our textbook together and learning HOW to take notes from a textbook. I know the traditional SQ3R methods, etc, but last night I found one that was something like PRQW (I may have the order wrong....)
P - Preview the section - look at the pictures, graphs, captions, sidebars, etc
R - Read the section - make sure you turn the heading into a question!
Q & W - Question and Write - from the section, write 2-3 test or quiz questions (and their answers!)

Now my challenge is how to assess this. I could have them turn in their questions and use them as questions for quizzes and/or warmups. Or I can do open-notebook concept quizzes. Or ??? (Fill in your idea here!)

I've been cleaning my office this week and finding various papers from previous years (suggestions for next year, to-do lists for the summer, neat ideas from online, etc). One of the papers I ran across was a collection of homework ideas - most from the AP calculus listserv I think. I found one idea that I really like, but would love some feedback... here's an excerpt of the idea:

"Some students can do few problems and learn the concept, and some students need to do many problems to learn the same concept, and some students can just pay attention in class and pick up everything.... I do give my students ton of homework each day, but I don't care if they don't do any of it. Every Friday I pick some problems out of the homework, and make a quiz out [of] it. I also give retakes on all weekly quizzes, and if a student makes less than 80% on the first quiz that student must produce all (every single problem with all steps worked out) of that weeks homework, and a parent note, before they can take a retake. ... The students only have one week to take a retake...."

Now of course I would modify this for me. Rather than weekly quizzes it would be chapter (or section) based, and since I"m not always fast on getting papers back, I think I'd have to modify the retake policy idea, but overall, I like the idea of this system for several reasons....
1) it is a way to transition from traditional HS to more of a college approach
2) it forces more responsibility onto them rather than onto me
3) allows me to assess with more quality rather than completion grades
4) it has built in differentiation for the various ability levels
5) it has built in remediation for those students that did not do well
6) helps with parent concerns when they realize Johnny had the test bank but chose not to do it!
7) it puts some element of control back in the hands of the kids - it's their choice and their grade

Of course, I need to figure out some way to help the retake structure... but that's where YOU come in! What are other Pros/Cons of this? Help me brainstorm it out!

:) Have a good day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I've never been an person who craves adventure. I'm more of a stay at home, relax at the lake, read a book type of gal. So after 8 years of teaching AP Statistics, I don't know what possessed me to apply to be an AP reader. I don't even *like* grading my student papers - let alone the thought of spending the next 7 days grading papers for 8 hours a day in order to get over 100,000 AP exams graded!!

But the time has come. Tomorrow morning at this time, I will be sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to be called to send me off to Louisville to join 450 other statistics teachers from around the nation. To say I'm nervous is an understatement. I have spent several of the past days trying to figure out what to take with me, hoping I don't forget anything, nervous about flying and having a roommate that I don't know.

To make matters worse, this has been a very overwhelming few days. Our last day at the high school was last Tuesday but then I had meetings on Thursday and Friday. Our weekend plans included seeing both my mom and MIL for their birthdays, cleaning out the freezer due to a loss of power (YUCK!!), dealing with hurricane force winds and rain, and losing air conditioning for 24 hours in 90+ degree heat.

Now I'm off to finish laundry, cleaning the house, going to the doctor, packing, and dinner with my family tonight. I will try to blog about my experiences at the AP reading if I get a chance. Have a wonderful day to all of you!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

No credit card????

Today, a friend and I co-hosted an AP review session at my school. We had a great time with the dozen kids that attended. I think overall the kids had time to review topics they hadn't seen in a while, so I think it was worth the time and energy and loss of Saturday :)

Last week my friend had treated me to lunch so this week was my turn. We went to a hamburger place in town and several of the kids came with us. The waitress put it all on one tab, which was no big deal. I told the kids I would take care of it. I get up to the cash register and they don't take Discover and my Visa card expired a few days ago and I had forgot to put the new one in my purse. OMG - I was mortified. I eat at this place often but the waitress acted like she had *no clue* who I was. My friend had left her purse in my classroom so she didn't have any money either. I ended up leaving my Discover card as collateral and my friend went back with her credit card to cover the lunch. Then I forgot to get my Discover card back from my friend so I had to run by her house tonight to get my card and give her money to pay for lunch. First thing I did when I got home was to put the new Visa in my wallet LOL.

Tonight I knew I needed to run and get items for my goodie bags. I *love* Dollar Tree!!! There is a Dollar Tree in town that is absolutely awesome. I love the educational toys, teacher supplies, and stationary products they have. In the toy section they had several "mini-carnival" games. Since I'm always on the lookout for items that I can play with in class, I am now planning a carnival day for next year. I got a ring toss (proportions), a "skeeball" type game (means), a tic-tac-toe game (??? not sure what to do with it). Do you guys have any ideas of carnival games that we could play with Statistics??

Also at Dollar Tree was a reversible chart - one side is a temperatue graph, the other side is a "goal" thermometer. I picked one up because I like to do mini competitions with my classes. Any ideas out there? I was thinking the percentage of turned in assignments or average on their weekly review quizzes.

I'm outta here - the rebroadcast for Grey's Anatomy is about to come on (It was preempted due to weather this week). Thanks in advance for any ideas!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Block Scheduling and Chocolate - A great combo!

Tomorrow is my last day of Geometry End of Instruction exams. This week has gone so quickly with block scheduling! On the positive side, my Geometry students said they felt prepared for the exam. Since we did not have official "review" time, that made me feel a bit better about the week. Of course, from many years as a teacher, I also know that "feeling good" does not translate to high scores! LOL

I had planned to test in my AP Stat class, but with only 6 more class sessions until the AP exam, I decided that I would rather do an activity. Bonus - no grading!!! wooohoooo!! hehe. Looking around my room, I had some left over M&Ms and remembered seeing an AP review activity on Mrs. Smart's website. I started with her idea and tweaked it to fill up a 2 hour review session for various inference methods. Since I typed this up tonight (after a 2 hour nap), it's still pretty rough, so please excuse any typos. :)

Everything I learned about Inference...

The end is in sight! One month left at the HS - only the final left at the Uni... where, oh where did the semester go???

Update: This activity went extemely well!!! The kiddos were actively discussing the problems and stayed engaged for 2 hours - excellent :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ready or Not...

It's finally here. The End of Instruction exams for Geometry start tomorrow. I did not have time to do any review with them, but every homework, quiz, and test had "previous knowledge" sections, so I have to hope that the constant review throughout the year was enough.

As for AP, I see them 7 more days before the exam due to the block scheduling for the EOI tests. I had a test planned for them this week, but I'm rethinking it so I can use the time for review instead. Do any of you have good review strategies?

Today is a semi-lazy day since I won't really "teach" this week. I have a test to write for the Uni and a few things like that, but other than grading, nothing is really pressing on my schedule.

I hope all of you have a great Sunday!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Countdown...

Since my last post, I have:

1) realized (again) that I have an amazing hubby,
2) taught my last lesson for the semester at Uni
3) lost my cool with my AP kids
4) been exhausted from the stress of life :)

When I last wrote, I was pretty darn ticked at my printer. As I lay in bed at midnight with tears of frustration, hubby tried to console me. The next day during my plan, I printed the originals and made copies for my AP class. About 20 minutes later, hubby shows up at school during lunch with 25 stapled and collated packets for my AP class. Nevermind that I had already made the copies, I was touched by such a generous show of love. :)

The Uni semester is almost over - I am giving a test on Monday and then the final is May 5th. I can't believe how fast it went!

Today, I lost my cool with my AP kiddos - they are a great group and it's very much a family like atmosphere with lots of good-natured joking and ribbing, but today they wanted to play way more than they wanted to work. With the AP exam 2.5 weeks away and only 8 class sessions until then, I don't have time to play! I ended up having to be very stern and I hate that! *sigh* I hope they take some responsibility on their own to study...

Lately it has been all I can do to keep my eyes open. Hubby told me at dinner tonight that I was a walking zombie.... For some reason I have been totally exhausted lately. I know its a combination of things, like dad being in the hospital for 2 weeks (got out today YAY!), totally rewriting a Geometry course (end is in sight there too), EOI exams next week for Geometry (I hope they do well!), and AP exams right around the corner. April is a tough month for me... there is still 5 weeks left of school yet you know you can't salvage much from this group of kiddos, so you start thinking about next year and how to improve, but then I'm impatient because I have to wait so long until then...

Speaking of improvement, every year about this time I start making lists of things I would like to accomplish to be a better teacher. I hope I never outgrow that trait, as I fully believe that lack of growth as a teacher is very dangerous, both professionally and personally for me. I am looking forward to this summer. While it will be very busy, I think it will also be professionally gratifying, with the AP reading, collaboration with other stat teachers, and an AVID insitute.

Well, I suppose it is time to head to bed... I hope you all have a great night!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Extreme Frustration

Ever feel like the world is plotting against you? This morning I sat down on the couch, ready to grade, and realized that my answer keys were at the high school, which is 30 minutes away. Since it would take more than an hour to recreate the keys, I decided that I would head to the HS and run by the hospital to see my dad on the way back. So far so good, right? I get home, start grading and make fairly decent progress over the course of the afternoon. About 5pm, I decide I had better start working on this week's lessons. It is now 9pm and I am still trying to print the paper that I started trying to print at 5. I am *so* pissed off at my printer right now. I have a huge HP LaserJet 5 with duplexer that is totally possessed by demons. Every time I try to print, it has different issues. What works well one day won't work at all the next day. The total inconsistency is about to drive me INSANE!!! (Note to self: I do love my hubby for finding this printer because when it works, it works well - the duplexer is awesome - but I swear it's possessed by demons!!!)

Both at the HS and the Uni tomorrow, I am teaching Chi-Square tests. At a workshop I attended last summer, we had done the VARK learning styles test and analyzed our data. So that's my plan tomorrow - if I can get the stinking thing to print. I plan to do a Goodness of Fit test to see if all learning styles are equally represented and then a test of homogeneity to see if there is a difference between males and females.

This week is going to be interesting. At the HS level, we start our End of Course tests and the Geometry test is 1 week away. I will not get through the Geometry curriculum before the tests and have to hope and pray that my students do okay on the material we have learned. The AP exam for Stat is only 3 weeks away, I have 2 chapters left to go and lots of praying there too.

*sigh* Now if only I could get the printer to print.....

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Melts in your Mouth... Not in your Hands :)

Everything I learned in Stat class, I learned from M&Ms :)

Some days, that statement feels so true. From univariate data (weights of bags, proportion of colors), to probability, and finally to inference, most topics in Intro Stat can be related back to M&Ms.

This week at the Uni level, we will delve into inference for proportions. As my Uni students have already figured out, I much prefer using real data to just putting problems on the board and droning on and on :) This week we will learn to do confidence intervals and hypothesis tests using M&Ms.

M&M Activity Sheet

At the HS level, when we covered this information, I chose not to do M&Ms and instead did a "globe toss" using a blow-up globe from Oriental Trading company. The students had a lot of fun tossing the globe around in the commons area and using the data generated to learn how to do a CI and HT for proportions. To top off the chapter, I gave a quiz a few days later. With the quiz, they each got a bag of Skittles and had to do the CI and HT for their bag. While it was a pain to grade, the kids enjoyed eating their quiz data :)

Globe Toss

Skittles Quiz


On a different note, I have no idea how many people have actually read this blog (other than Jackie - my lone commenter *grin*), so I don't know if the material I am posting has been useful to anyone out there or not. The AP Statistics community is fairly small and mostly rely on the ap-stat listserv to communicate with the other Stat teachers out there. However, I have found it rather interesting to post my lessons and commentary for my own documentation if nothing else. By updating the posts with what worked and what needs to be modified, I am hoping to use this like a journal as I teach the same lessons next year, tweaking and improving as I go.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Video Clips

I like to use video clips whenever it ties in to what I am teaching. However, I rarely have the time to search out new video clips. I tried to go through my stack of Numb3rs DVDs over spring break, but still had an issue with lack of time.

Here is a video from the ap-stat listserv on Type I/II Errors and Power. You-Tube Video

My students (at both the HS and Uni levels) found it very interesting to discuss. Then we looked at other problems that previous students had written and they had an assignment to create their own scenerio. If anyone is interested in that worksheet, let me know and I'll post it here.

Do any of you have videos (online or DVD) that you like to use in the classroom?

Curriculum Design and Satisfaction

I don't know if any of you read Dan Meyer's blog dy/dan, but yesterday he posted an interesting graph concerning the difficulty in creating good curriculum and the satisfaction derived from it.

His post got me thinking about my own life. I have taught for 10 years and enjoy it (other than the grading of course!). This morning has started like most Saturday mornings, with me at my laptop and working on lesson plans for the upcoming week. As I look at last year's lessons, I typically find fault with them and tweak them to fit this year. An example:

Last year's Geometry notes on similar triangles

This year's Geometry notes on similar triangles

From year to year, my lessons change. Some years they change a lot, other's not so much. However, I am never pleased with the previous material and unless I'm really pressed for time, I almost always change them.

My issue with Dan's graph is that I don't find it true for me. Each year, my standard of quality seems to increase, so I find it increasingly difficult to create good curriculum. Because it is more difficult for me to be pleased with my output, I find that the satisfaction in reaching that standard does increase.

I suppose there is no "right" answer - however, in year #1, I would have laughed if someone told me that year #10 would be just as difficult (or more so) and that I would still spend 80 hours a week on school.... Will I be able to sustain this for 20 more years? No idea, but I certainly hope so :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where's Waldo??

Wow - where did this week go???

Today, in AP, we started confidence intervals for means. Since my kiddos already know and understand the format for CI's, I'm going to mostly teach this unit (Unit 6 in BVD) through activities.

Today we gathered JellyBlubber data. I had seen this activity from Rex Boggs during my 1st year with stat (8 years ago) and I've always done an CI for the means for them. However, I wasn't very pleased with my data sheet over the years, and low and behold, Richard Cowles also does this activity! So I have to admit that I did a bit of stealing and tweaking from Richard's worksheet :) Now I will admit that I can steal and tweak with the best of them, but in my defense, I was up til 12:30 last night creating a packet for Chapter 23 and all I got done was the confidence intervals! I told my kids they had to love me *forever*! lol

Tomorrow in class, we are doing the "Where's Waldo" activity. I found this picture online and decided to use it for confidence intervals when sigma was unknown. Here is my activity sheet that I created and I'm doing tomorrow. At the uni class, I use this picture for describing data back in Unit 1.

It may be a few days before I dig myself out of my paperwork hole, so have a great weekend!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A-Maze-ing work!!

Whew - I'm exhausted!!! I took a vacation over Spring Break (first one since 2003!!) and I got *nothing* done for school!!! I have a feeling that this week will be really busy :(

However, the show must go on!! Tomorrow night at Uni, I will be teaching about 2-sample inference. I am going to try a new activity that I've been tossing around in my mind, so I thought I'd share it with you guys and maybe it's something you can use.

The other day I was searching through my cabinets and found some laminated mazes that I must have used once upon a time. An *a-ha* moment hit me as I realized that I was about to start inference for means and I could use the mazes as "data", having the students time each other through the maze. I will expand this activity at the AP level for having the kids do 1-sample inference as well, but at Uni, I've already done 1-sample, so this activity sheet only refers to 2-sample inference.

Maze Activity

The Maze I used (page 1)

UPDATE: I had my students use their cell phones, but at the high school, I need to remember to put the "stopwatch" program onto their TI83s that I got at a workshop. Also, if you use this, at the college level, I do more with critical values and rejection regions than we do at the high school level.

Have a great week!!!

P.S. On vacation, we had the chance to tour the "MoneyFactory" in Fort Worth, TX. Did you know they use a systematic sample to check the finished currency for errors? Every 16th bundle of 100 bills is checked and all of the bills in that bundle have the same letter at the end of the serial number. If there is an error, the entire bundle is pulled and destroyed and a replacement pack (called a "star note") is put in its place. You have about a 2% chance of having a star note in your possession :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Start of Something New...

I don't know why I was compelled to start a blog. I'm not a writer, nor have I ever been one. However, this morning I felt that I should log on to blogger and start a blog specifically for teaching statistics. I have taught AP Statistics for 8 years and am finishing my 1st year teaching intro stat at a Division 1 university.

My goal, if you can call it that, is to share and document my classroom activities as well as ferret out interesting websites for stat teachers. I hope that's a goal I can acheive :)

I guess my first post will be about the ups and downs of this past week. I am now officially on spring break and have some time to reflect. Last weekend, I finally had a chance to sit down and modify a lab activity that I had gotten at an AP workshop with Penny Smeltzer. The original idea was to use Fatal Vision goggles ("drunk goggles") to simulate intoxication and to document the number of infractions that occured in a sobriety test called the Walk and Turn test. On Monday, Each student did the WAT test both with and without the goggles ("drunk" and "sober") while the rest of the class counted infractions and our campus police determined whether each person passed or failed the test. In Penny's original lab, the students performed a matched-pairs t-test on the data, but since I have not gotten to inference for means yet, I wanted to modify the lab for testing with proportions. We had 24 people take the test and recorded the information for our data sheet. The kids had a great time and I hope they realized how alcohol affects their vision (remember, we *are* on spring break!). On Tuesday, I had to be absent, so I left the lab sheet for my students to analyze the data we had gathered. Halfway through the day, I got a call from a coworker asking if she could invite my students to her room during class to listen to a radio personality talk about the research that goes into the radio song selection. While my kids really enjoyed the guest speaker, they did not have the time to review the lab and work with their partners. I've included the lab sheet for anyone that is interested, but please give credit where credit is due and leave the last line on the last page. Thanks :)

Fatal Vision Lab

On Friday we took a test over inference for proportions. While I haven't graded it yet, I'm worried that 4 students left the 2-proportion test mostly blank, so I am anticipating having to write a make-up exam for the free response portion. I am hoping that for most of them, the senioritis of spring break just kept them from doing their best. *sigh*

I have been scouring my stack of newspapers (from the past month *ugh*) looking for studies that I can create test questions and worksheets with. I love my textbook (BVD), but after 4 years, I'm tired of the homework problems and looking for new ones. As I get problems written, I also hope to post them here so that people can use them in their own classrooms.

Well, I suppose I should wrap this up for now. I am headed to my mom's for a few days. Thanks for tuning in :)