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 :)