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