Monday, November 17, 2014

Ebola Math

Like many others, I've been intently following the recent news stories about Ebola: the outbreak in West Africa, the cases in the U.S., as well as the ongoing reports about the research in the scientific community regarding treatment and a future vaccine. This media attention provides teachers a unique opportunity to discuss relevant course content with a current-event context. Students, no doubt, will be interested in learning about it from an academic perspective. The topic lends itself nicely to many approachable topics in high school math, statistics, biology, health, and social studies classes. It also can be a great way to introduce students to some basics of epidemiology, virology, medical ethics, and biostatistics.

Here are some great resources available for teachers and students who wish to use Ebola and infectious diseases as a context for learning.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Wandering Point, Updated

One of my favorite activities from the Stats: Modeling the World teaching materials is "The Wandering Point" class activity to look at the influence of points on correlation and linear regression. My students always get a lot of out it and I think it lends itself to a high level of student engagement. I have since adapted* this activity to incorporate the new regression function of Desmos as well as some modifications to enhance student understanding.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Framework for Discussion: Past, Present, and Future

As a guide for class discussion and written responses, I like for students to think about how the presented information connects to the past, the present, as well as the future. I don't find value in them just summarizing what they have read, heard, or watched. Instead, I want students to think about how they are processing this new information given each of their own personal viewpoints. I emphasize to them that there is no correct answer.

Here are some motivating questions for students to help them with this process:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Advice for the AP Stats Newbie

I've been asked several times this year for some advice for educators teaching AP Statistics for the first time. Here is usually what I tell these new teachers:

First, let me start by pointing out that Stats teachers are one of the most generous ed groups out there. The vast majority are teaching solo in their schools and/or taught for the first time with little support. So many of us remember having been right where you, the newbie teachers, are. 

Some things to do right away:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Citing Data in the Statistics Classroom

I must admit that, in the past, I haven't done as good of a job with citing datasets as I would like. Occasionally, I'll find a worksheet I made years ago and will want to find the original data. In the back of my mind, I'll recall finding it in one of the dozens of Stats textbooks on my bookshelves but have no idea which one. I probably would have benefited from a data citation in that case.

There are more good reasons to reference datasets, especially for teachers and students. Here are the 7 reasons I think we should citing data in the statistics classroom as well as the best guide on how to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Using Real Data from the Real World... Because Really

I like to use real data in my Statistics classes. I can think of only one brief instance off the top of my head that I wouldn't. Unfortunately, most of the math textbooks and exams my students see contain lots of made-up real-world situations with painfully obvious fake data. So it's a real relief that most of the Statistics textbooks I know are chock full of examples and problems that use genuine datasets. These data come from many different disciplines, from peer-reviewed journals, or from the author's personal data collection (and these are often fun).

For class assignments, I sometimes have my students collect data too. I sometimes, however, want my students to complete a task using whatever existing dataset they wish. In these cases, the context is not really important so I would much rather have them research and use something they find personally interesting. Most students love that they get to choose the topic, but a few have complained that they don't know where to look for data. Like, in alllll of the Internet they couldn't find any data anywhere that was worth investigating. Okayyy...

In my students' defense, there is so much data available publicly that I can understand how it can be overwhelming for a teenager. The datasets are out there but they're not always easy to find, or they require fancy software, or they're only available for a fee, or students don't know where to begin their search. So, this summer I set out to compile a list of good online sources for data that students and teachers can use in the Statistics classroom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And so it begins...

Posts and pages forthcoming. Stay tuned.

(Photo: Calvin and Hobbes)