Thursday, September 15, 2016

U.S. Census Bureau: Statistics in Schools

The U.S. Census Bureau unveiled its newly updated Statistics in Schools program for K-12 teachers and students earlier this month. Using current and historical data, the Census Bureau program provides teachers the tools to help students understand statistical concepts and improve their data analysis skills. There are free online activities and other resources available in geography, history, social studies, sociology, as well as math.

It looks good.

It's always nice to see expanded resources and teacher tools for using real data in the classroom. I took a look at the new Statistics in Schools site and was impressed with the quality of the resources that are there (and I think they plan to add to their library). In addition to interactive maps and graphs, historical info, database search tools, state and population info, the site has statistics activities for K-12 classes. While the Census data has always been publicly available, it's an added benefit to have ready-made lessons and activities that teachers can use or easily adapt for their needs. The Census Bureau worked with statistics educators on this project and it really shows. The activities are all aligned with Common Core, GAISE, and other national standards and are designed to promote good statistical thinking.
They had me at "appropriate scales."

The site is easy to navigate by both subject and grade bands. Each activity outlines the standards, includes student and teacher versions, and contains the related data, graphs, and/or maps from the Census database. They have included vocabulary lists with definitions, discussion suggestions, and even extension ideas in the teacher resources. The student packets provided seem lengthy (some 10+ pages) but contain almost everything needed for a teacher to just print and go (although I did see that some activities require teachers to have Internet access and a classroom projector to display the websites). I really appreciate the interdisciplinary and/or social justice context for statistics in these activities. I can foresee many of the activities to be the basis of collaboration between teachers in different subject areas.

From their press release: “These activities provide teachers with opportunities to teach statistical concepts and data analysis skills to students in various subjects — not just math,” California Polytechnic State University Professor Emerita of Statistics Roxy Peck said, who served as a subject matter expert for the middle and high school math activities. “The need for statistically literate citizens continues to grow as we become a more data-driven society.”

This and other great resources on my Stats Things Loved page.

(Photo from Statistics in Schools.)

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