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Mixed bag today

22 September, 2014 (21:11) | APStats | By: Glenn

Today was a mixed bag of, well, weirdness and frustration with some awesomeness.

I will start with the awesomeness. This morning at 7:15am, a learner from last year walked in and asked for help with his college math class. Loved it. I worked with him for about an hour (into the first class of the day) and he left feeling much better about his class and caught up. I felt really good about being able to continue to help my learners even after they have graduated and moved on.

The frustration was that classes can be so very very different. My one period is chatty. And by chatty I mean so talkative they actually miss out on some of the lesson because they just won’t learn to listen. They are great learners, but the social aspect is killing them. Meanwhile my other two classes have exactly the opposite problem. They are so un-chatty that they sit there in silence waiting for someone to speak up.

The classes were so polar opposite today, and I was completely flummoxed by it. I need to get the one class to talk about the math, and the other classes I need to get to talk about the math! Well, at least it is a common problem.

 

Finally, the weirdness. I gave my AP Stats class this lesson. Ch 4 – Tomato plant experiment But today we were learning how to calculate the fences for outliers and we applied the calculation to data set E.

The NSpire says the data point 20.2 is an outlier, as does the TI-84. But using the 5 number summary and doing 1.5(IQR) + Q3 and Q1-1.5(IQR) we get a fence of 19.95.

The value o 20.2 is not an outlier, but the graphing calculators call it an outlier. That is weird.  I used JMP hoping it would give me different values for the 5 number summary. Nope. Same as the graphing calculators.

This is some weirdness I can’t easily explain, but it did hammer home the idea we should not trust the calculator.

Torturing, er, teaching today

18 September, 2014 (17:07) | Alg 2, APStats | By: Glenn

All models are wrong, but some are useful. George E.P. Box

AP Statistics

I was able to use this quote today in class. I was happy.

My learners were happy too, well, mostly happy. Well, okay, not happy at all at first. At first they hated me. They were struggling with learning how to do 1-variable stats, boxplots and histograms on their calculators in AP Stats. To force the issue of “you must do this, quickly and accurately” I gave them the following handout.

Ch 4 Box Plot Histogram 5 number summary INB 2013

5 data sets, all real, all crazy, none of them particularly easy. The golf data set is just weird.  These are clearly not data sets made up to look like something legit. They are data sets chosen to make them question whether or not their window is set right, whether they entered the data correctly. It forces discussion.

Then, they had this as homework.

Ch 4 – Tomato plant experiment

Yea, I am a demanding. They have until Monday, so I am not worried about the time it takes. But if they can’t make a graph, this is an impossible handout. If they try to get summary statistics by hand, they are in trouble.

I am interested to see what happens on Monday.

 

Algebra 2

Whew. This class started out brutal, but by the end of class they were ripping quadratic equations in standard form into (h, k) form in seconds. y=2x^2, or 3x^2, no problem. They were able to factor out the coefficient and jam on it. I was really happy about it. They struggled at first, but they were helping each other and they all had it by the end of class.

The assignment was to take 3 functions and put them all in the other two forms. Yes, the form for the second one requires the intercepts be written with complex  numbers. Are all functions factorable? Yes. Are all functions easily factorable? No.  Graphing will get them the intercepts? No. Graphing will get them the vertices at least? Yes, but (1,18) and (-3,-22) are two of the vertices. Not easy at all.

Sneaky Waddell, sneaky.

3 functions

Notes, Pacing & lesson idea

17 September, 2014 (13:40) | APStats, Lesson idea | By: Glenn

brickwall

One thing I am really working on in AP Stats is the amount of notes, the lack of notes, and the engagement of my learners. AP Stats is one of those courses where the amount of vocab to assimilate is so huge, that it cannot all be done by activities. I have found that a mixture of activities and notes, and assignments and cycling back again helps tremendously.

I have the one slide from my notes today above. The literal, not figurative, brick wall between the two ideas of mean & standard deviation and median & IQR was very well communicated this year. The learners told me they understood. The formative checks I did supported that.

I still am not confident. Too many learners mess up this idea every year for me to take the face value word on it. I will be giving some questions over the next couple of days to make sure.

The re-writing of my slides to be word minimal, picture heavy, and discussion focused has changed how the class goes when I am doing notes, at least. I am happy with that aspect, and the learners I have asked directly about the notes have told me they are very useful and not boring.

That is something at least!

——————————

PhD spillover

As an aside, the class on non-parametric statistics has taught me one thing that has impacted my AP Class. The structure I used last year as far as how I teach the content is right on the money.

2014-09-16 16.08.00

In the PhD level class, we look at every problem first from the perspective of “is it categorical or quantitative” and then “how many variables”. So far, we have limited the decision to just categorical, non-normal problems (hence the non-parametric! label of the course.)

For Inference section, the course will be divided up into a. quantitative 1 sample, a1. confidence interval, a2 hypothesis testing; b. quantitative 2 sample b1. confidence interval, b2. hypothesis testing, etc. I think this structure leads better to the advanced level stats if they take a next class.

It is also the exact opposite of what our textbook does. Oh well. I didn’t use the textbook structure for 2nd semester anyway for the last 3 years. This just reinforces that decision as a good one.

——————————

Finally, some lesson ideas I am working on.

2014-09-16 16.09.51 2014-09-16 16.09.01

That’s right. Funky dice!

On the left we have odd shaped, non-standard dice. Awesome. Are they fair? Not sure. On the right we have, yes, for reals, 5 sided, 7 sided and up dice. No joke. I once argued that a 5 sided fair die could not exist. Is it fair? Not sure. I am writing some lessons for expected value to take advantage of both of these.

I also received word from Robert at http://thedicelab.com/ that my order of weighted dice is coming soon.

Heh heh heh. That’s right. Real, honest to goodness (well, dishonest to goodness) weighted dice.

Expected value here we come! More later on this idea.

Relaying in Stats, Melting down in Alg

16 September, 2014 (16:35) | Alg 2, APStats, Lesson idea | By: Glenn

2014-09-16 16.08.00

You are here! That is my AP Stats objectives board for the next few weeks. Today and yesterday we finished up Categorical data analysis with Relay Cards. It was very successful. I had many learners telling me they understood what they were doing, and they were saying this even though they were making mistakes in the reading of the problems.

I like the fact they were happy with the content and realize that making mistakes in reading did not mean they were not understanding. I need to figure out a way to make sure they realize that.  This is an issue I need to think on tonight and figure out a way to pull it together for them to think on as well.

I wish I had a magic phrase that everyone would hear and just go, “Aha.  I understand that making mistakes does not mean I don’t understand, it just means I made a mistake.”

I have RADICALLY revamped the notes I am doing as well.

This is the old PPT from the book. I am ashamed to say I used this for several years.

bookppt1

Here is my notes for this year, same topic. Yes, the quote is from Dr. Who. I will see how many learners pick that up.

notesme

 

Yes, there is still text on the slide, but less. And more of a story instead of regurgitating stupid words.

histogram  I am trying to do more of this type of thing with my notes instead of the “The definition of a relative frequency histogram is” blah blah blah. So far, the learners are telling me my notes are not horrible. They read less, they write less, and they are learning more and being much more quick in doing problems and asking better questions.

So far, success on that front.

Ch 3 – Relay Cards (made by Shelli Temple)

———————-

Algebra 2

Whew, but Alg 2 is brutal.

We are working our way through a series of Quadratics. Today I introduced completing the square and justified it by needing the vertex form. All of the quadratics we have done are found here:

 

I started them off in vertex form, they had to provide intercept and  standard form. Now I am giving them standard form, and they provide vertex and intercept form (among all the other information found on the exploration sheet.)

They are hating me right now, but it is getting easier. The idea that ALL quadratics are factorable, is stressing them out. Some are easily factorable, some require the quadratic formula, but ALL are factorable.

Ouch.

Miss a day, miss a lot

15 September, 2014 (20:49) | APStats | By: Glenn

I can’t believe I did it, but I missed a day. I did not post on Friday. I don’t have a real excuse, other than tiredness. I took a nap after school on Friday because I was running chains for the varsity football game. After doing it two games on Thursday I was beat by the end of school on Friday. That I took the nap in my classroom with the lights off just shows how tired I really was! Thankfully the custodian didn’t come in. That would have given him  a heart attack.

A quick recap from Friday to get caught up, and then today in a different post.

On Friday in AP Stats I did “bad graphs”. This is always a fun day, because we look at graphs and they learn what NOT to do. I tell them that if I ever see a graph that is 3D, or violates the Area Principle, or bad axis labels I will stop reading and return ungraded. We looked at lots of pics. Here are some examples:

road sign graph-01-01 voting_methods 3-D graph Bush-cuts-625x461 changing scale changing scale2 courses CUSD growth daily oil production genetest29 infoweek11-24 japan-world no scale quakeroats

 

And this is the assignment we did: Ch 3 – Analyzing Bad Graphs

This was fun day, but still informative and useful.

Quiet but busy day

11 September, 2014 (15:12) | Alg 2, Personal, Technology | By: Glenn

Today was my quiet day, only two classes. But, I was busy all lunch upgrading my learners calculators!

2014-09-11 12.28.03  Yes, that is the pile I have done today at lunch. About 5 learners have already come in and picked their calculator up, thank goodness. I am a bit nervous having $1200 of calculators sitting on my shelf, especially when they are not mine!

This is one of the things that we don’t often realize takes up a ton of time. The learners don’t realize that these things have operating systems, and that the operating systems change from time to time. When learners are buying calcs on eBay (which I always encourage because TI=ripoff) the calcs often come with out of date OS’s and are lacking functions that truly make the calc useful.

For example, look at the following two prompts, both come directly off of the TI-84:

TI-84NEWvs.  TI-84OLD

 

Which one of these screens would you rather see when typing in information?  Me too. The left one is much more friendly.  I say at the beginning of my class, every day for the next two weeks, “You want me to make sure your calculator is updated. Please come see me.” We had a 2 minute discussion of what the current versions were the other day when we were talking calculators too.

I think this is the biggest change so far this year on the calculator front. Last year, I had 5% of my learners ask me to update their calcs. This year, I am up to around 40% already. That is worth it. I am really annoyed in May when someone says, “Yea, I knew there was something about updating, but I never bothered.” That person probably is not trying for a 5.

How to make this process easy? For the NSpires, have 2 4 port hubs with cables plugged in. This allows you to shove out updates to 8 similar calcs all at once using the Teacher Software.

For the TI-83 and 84’s you have to update one at a time, but it is fairly quick using TI-Connect.

Oh, and it helps if you have a directory that looks like this: calc directory

All the current OS update files, old update files (bcs the NSpire must be updated to 1.7 before you can take it to 3.9), 83, 84, 84C images, etc. I download all the new files when they update (2 times a year for the NSpires, really TI?)

What a pain in the butt. But it helps my learners.

—————-

AP Stats:

Not much happened today. It was a continuation of yesterday (same content, different period). Tomorrow is my 3 in a row stats day.  I am going to challenge them with some bad graphs and another short relay card race on contingency tables. Then, moving on to 1 variable quantitative stats. Yay!

Alg 2 Honors:

It was an AMAZEBALLS Day.  We did this exercise with one quadratic function. Just one. But the conversation we had was so amazing. I gave then one, factorable function in Vertex form. Then we started going to town. The “wow, look at the connection here” and “oh, I get it why it was this!” and “wow, this is all the same stuff!” was terrific.

The homework was to do one more.  The future of this looks like doing another one. Then, I will give one in standard form, and we will have to teach completing the square. And they will get one that has imaginary roots, and I will discuss imaginary numbers. This one page will get used 200 times throughout the year to deeply understand the functions and the connections between functions.

functionfun  File can be downloaded too.

And the day was awesome because I said about 20 words, and my learners said about 200. I am shooting for a 5% ratio tomorrow.

I earned my High 5 today

10 September, 2014 (20:20) | Personal | By: Glenn

 

highfiveToday it happened! WooHoo! I was completely excited today. I earned the high five from one of my learners. On the 20th of August, I noted that one single learner had not given me a high five, and in fact that she refused to give me a high five. Well today, after working really hard all period on rational exponent problems, and rocking the heck out of the problems, she gave me a five at the end of class.

She had a giant grin on her face, she was excited because she was making connections and understanding, and she was into it. I finally earned the five because she realized I was not leading them along, I was not tormenting them by asking questions all the time, they were learning BECAUSE I was asking questions all the time.

Yay.

I also had a different learner walk in and tell me she was reading my blog and realized the high fives were a placebo to make them feel good about math. I smiled, told her yes, and high fived her. She laughed.

Did we do content today? Absolutely. Algebra 2 was rocking the rational exponents. AP Stats was starting conditional and marginal distributions. But today was awesome because of the relationships I am building with my learners.

It was a GREAT day.

Burning a day: getting calcs under control

9 September, 2014 (14:48) | APStats | By: Glenn

fire-142514_640 via

With three sections of 32, 34 and 35 in AP Stats  I am trying something different this year with teaching calculator skills. Instead of teaching the skills as I go like I did in previous years I switched it up and burned a day. It was not wasted though, it was highly productive. I have learners with Nspire’s, TI-83’s, TI-84’s, TI-89 Titaniums, and  Casio’s in my class. This variety is killer with a large class. If I had to teach how to do a 1 variable stats on all platforms as I go, class would grind to a halt pretty quickly.

With that in mind, I decided to do something radically different. I burned the day of content, and instead focused on “can you find these commands on your calculator don’t worry about what it means just find them.”

Calculator fill in blank instructions DOCX format

Calculator fill in blank instructions PDF format

I am okay with burning the day because I promised the class when one of them said, “But wait, I forgot how to do a 1 var stats!” my response would be, “Then I am here at lunch for you to show you.”  I will not spend any time in class teaching how to use the calculator, we will spend time in class USING the calculator.

In addition, I added some materials to my site for AP Stats: http://www.mrwaddell.net/apstats/  for calculator help:  http://www.mrwaddell.net/apstats/learner-resources/calculator-instructions 

There are links to video playlists, video searching, as well as some good resources for using the different calculators.

Will it work? Only some time will tell.

I know that I will be busy updating calcs over the next few weeks. That is super important.

 

 

A question of interest for my PhD class

8 September, 2014 (20:50) | Personal | By: Glenn

One of my classes is “Qualitative Research in Education” taught by Dr. Diane Barone. She is a pretty amazing professor so far, and I am really looking forward to the actually doing the research project in this class.

Which brings me to the idea I had for the research. Dan Meyer, in his Keynote at TMC14 was asking “Who is the #MTBoS? Dan was doing a quantitative study on the #MTBoS, and I think he created more questions than he answered.

One advantage to qualitative research over quantitative research is it is more focused on the Who and the Why questions. In tonight’s class we had to present our potential questions, and mine was accepted with no revisions or modifications.

“How are K-12 math teachers using Twitter in their Personal Learning Networks?”

This is just a pilot study, I am not going to go through the IRB to get approval for publication. I think there is absolutely some worthwhile research that can be published, but not in this first class.

I have found research about Library Information Specialists and their use of Twitter, I have found research about technology specialists and their use of Twitter, but nothing about classroom teachers, let alone math teachers.

What do you think? Are you interested in the answer too?

Intro to rational exponents & growth

8 September, 2014 (20:22) | Alg 2, Personal | By: Glenn

I want to do these in order of their occurrence today because it set the tone for me. I was giving an exam in AP Stats (hence no new info about AP Stats) and at the end the exam a learner handed me a note. It was very personal, but it essentially said “please forgive me if I seem out of it this week, a person close to me passed away this week a couple of years ago and I always have a bad week around now.”

Wow.

I sat there thinking about the struggle this learner has this week, the memory of the passing, and the fact that teaching is not about content but about the relationships. This is a concept that I did not have 8 years ago. I jumped into teaching thinking I could teach math and rock the content like no one else.

Today I know better. Today I know I know content; I am confident in my content; but I KNOW for a fact that all of that knowledge is useless if my learners do not trust me and I don’t trust them. I have not always had that knowledge. I have made mistakes on this issue in the past.

By the way, I thanked that learner for communicating with me. I will watch this person closely to make sure there are no problems. I owe  that much for sure.

 

Alg 2

Then I introduced rational exponents later. I put one question on the board.

“Given that you know what 8^(1/3) means. Given that you know what 8^2 means. What do you think 8^(2/3) means?”

I let them think about it for several minutes.

Eventually, one learner broke it down into two parts, cube root of 8 is two; two squared is 4.

Excellent. We discussed why that works, we discussed what happens if the order is reversed.

Then we rocked some complicated problems I put on the board.

Yes, they made mistakes, but the mistakes made were procedural mistakes. Mistakes about not distributing to all terms, or multiplying fractions wrong, or moving all terms instead of only the term with negative exponent.

I am telling you, this was absolutely successful. I did not approach rational exponents like this last year, but it works. Let them create the meaning.

Never say something a learner can say.