Thursday, August 14, 2014

Calculus around the room and "the Statistics talk"

I cannot express enough how awesome it is to have the whiteboards (mounted all the way around) in my room this year. Ask me again in a few months when I have possibly had to purchase the markers (although I am making that a requirement for every student in their school supplies).  Today I put up one question on every board (9 total).  I told the students that there was a problem on "their" whiteboard that they had to solve and that I was giving them 2 minutes to work it.  After that they were rotating and solving the next problem. WOW!!  You should have seen them working.  Sometimes they were so quite that I had to interject "you know you can talk, right?".  They responded with "we are working!"  That made me chuckle inside!  At the end I asked if they felt rushed and they responded with "only on a couple of them."  I said they would have plenty of time tomorrow to do the same quantity and caliber of problems, and they seemed relieved.  Sometimes I like to push them a little harder in training because then during the test, it doesn't seem as difficult.  I liken it to training for any sport.  Train harder so that the actual race/competition seems less challenging.

I also like to surprise them.  I asked if anyone was interested in having a copy of the problems to practice again at home. Several hands went up.  Then I asked if they'd like a worked out solutions guide. Several hands up again.  I followed up with "is anyone interested in a different set to practice on?" A lot of "yeses", to which I asked would you like solutions for those as well?  Of course that was a no-brainer.  So I gave them the questions and the extra set on a worksheet and told them the solutions that I worked myself would be posted online.  They think it's Christmas because I'm supplying "the toys" and I think it's Christmas because I get kids doing more math!  WIN WIN!

I gave "the talk" today.  "If you are feeling confused, you are not alone".  I keep this on a post-it to remind myself that I will have to give this talk to the AP Stats students near the beginning of school.  I could hear some huge sighs of relief.  Graphing and analyzing graphs is a lot harder than they thought and many of the "overachievers" are starting to feel "the pinch".  Should I stay in the class? is becoming a non-ignorable thought.  I always tell them that this class is different from every other math class.  We will not be doing number crunching.  We will use the calculators (another piece they have to learn...and it takes time) to do the calculations for us, we have to know how to explain our findings.  It's fun though to bring up things like "this data proves sexism in the ____________ industry" and then let them discuss.  It's a challenge for them to use DATA to support their opinions instead of their "feelings". This is one of the qualities of Stats that I love (something completely new that they do not have refined skills in).  I know because I have taught it for so long that they will be completely different people after learning statistics for a year.  It's fun to watch the fledglings in the beginning.  They try to start jumping from the nest, only to find out that they are not anywhere near being ready yet.  You have to love that confidence they have in themselves as evidenced by their trying.  But now they are starting to realize that they aren't able to catch the updraft yet...back into the nest for a few weeks more.  My poor little birds!

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