Aug 012011

Viva Hathaway was the third session on Saturday, and I looked forward to her presentation with great gusto. I attended a short session she gave at the NCTM Conference in Salt Lake City in 2009, and walked away from her session with a brain exploding with ideas.

In fact, on her site, she still has a link to all the resources from that event. Just go down to “NCTM09” and use the most obvious password you can think of that rhymes with “nctm09”. In fact, use it twice as username too!

First off, let me tell you that if you have not had the opportunity to spend an hour or more in a room with Mrs. Hathaway, you are missing out. She has more energy, enthusiasm, and engagement potential that myself times 10. Seriously, she is a human dynamo that never stops, and as the self proclaimed “Stats Goddess” in her room, I have no doubt that she is amazing.

Second off, I would like to share just a few basic things she does that I know last time I missed because I was so new, but this time I caught and need to incorporate into my classroom style.

  • She deals with a lot of food. Learners like to eat food. If learners eat food before the lesson is over, the lesson IS over.
  • In order to fight this, she declaims, loudly, that the Stats Goddess has NOT blessed this food yet, and therefor it is TOXIC until blessed. If you eat it, you will become very sick.
  • She is NOT kidding. One of the teachers at some M&M’s before she said it was okay, and she was right there, immediately saying, “Are you okay? I will call the nurse and an ambulance right now, okay. You will be getting very sick soon. Oh, my. Look at you. You are not feeling are, are you?” etc.
  • It worked. Not a single other soul in the room touched an M&M until she said so. Once she was done with the particular lesson, she said, “And now, the Stats Goddess blesses the M&M’s so they are now safe to eat.”
  • All the lessons Mrs. Hathaway does she spirals. EVERY TIME, EVERY LESSON! This is so important. The M&M lesson she says she uses with probability, and then again, the same data is used with Chi Square testing. The Teddy Grahams lesson is used to see if there is a measure bias, and the same data is used to discuss inference testing.
  • She does this, so that instead of saying “Two sample t testing” she can say, “Remember when we did the mood survey?” That is a very powerful idea, that connects something real world to the abstract. The learners understand and connect with her and the material. Total win.
  • She NEVER deletes data. If she enters data on day 1, she can load it at the end of the year to look at again. This is something I need to learn.

We spent about 1/2 the time in the session doing 4 different activities. I will break all 4 down, but we did not cover all of them well. The reason for that I will go into later.

Personal survey of mood: everyone in the room received one of two identical looking cards, and we were told very strictly to not show or discuss the cards, just do what it says.

  • Group 1: For the next 2 minutes write down everything that has been good, exciting or made you happy over the last two weeks. Include ALL the good and fun things no matter how small. 
  • Group 2: For the next 2 minutes write down everything that has frustrated you or upset you over the past two weeks. Include ALL the bad and frustrating things no matter how small.
  • Next, she asked us to think about the list, and then rank ourselves from 1 to 10. We then graphed the results from Group 1 and Group 2. Guess what, we had a bimodal graph. Shape Center and Spread were discussed. Later in the year, this same data can be loaded at the end of the year for a two sample t test. It is always significant.

Wet measure vs. Dry Measure measuring cups using Teddy Grahams. Did you know there are two different kinds of measuring cups? I did, but I didn’t realize why.

  • Have Teddy Grahams available. Have a cup, approximately 8 oz, and a large clear cup, that is marked with 8 oz mark (using water to measure 1 earlier). Mrs. Hathaway actually said she has enough actual measuring cups to do this in her room. She has collected them over the years.
  • The learners measure out teddy grahams in the dry measure to the very top. The learners measure teddy grahams to the top of the wet measure mark. Both are counted. Repeat.
  • Is there a difference? Of course. Here we have an example of a measurement bias, as well as some inference testing later in the year.

Confidence intervals with M&M’s: Goal is to have 100 samples taken from a known population and compare the confidence interval with the truth.

  • First off, a yellow or red M&M is a success. Have the learners scoop out a cupful of M&M’s that is about 100 to 125 candies. Then the learners count how many red & yellows they have and the teacher circulates and gets from every learner the total success and the total number of candies.
  • The teacher now has, with a bit of calculation a census of the population of red & yellows and total candies.
  • Now the learners put their candies back in their cup and shake. The learners then sample with n = 20 enough times to get 100 samples.
  • Graph with post it notes or something else on the board.
  • Calculate CI of the 100 samples. Compare with true proportion. Does the CI include the true mean?

Chi Square with M&M’s we did not have time to go into, but is on her site.

Two last things.

  1. She made a point to show how her lessons fit into the EXCEL framework. Engage, eXplore, Communicate, Empower and Launch. She said quickly that this is a requirement from her principle, but it fits with the idea of getting learners engaged, talking, and launching them to more critical thinking skills.
  2. We got the opportunity to play with the new Casio Prizm calculators. This was fun, and I found out that Casio re-wrote some of the statistics routines in the calculator to make it easier. I was really unhappy with the stats menu on the old Casio calculators. They were hard to use and didn’t do all the AP Stats things I needed, or at least it was so difficult that I couldn’t figure out how to do it. The down side is we spent 1/2 our time on this. Some teachers were struggling and asking questions, other teachers picked them up and were delving into the guts (me and some others), but we really did spend about 30 minutes on this.

I know Mrs. Hathaway wanted to give us the opportunity to spend some time with new tech, but I really wanted to see what she was doing in the classroom more. Much more.

Still, it was a successful session, and I thank Mrs. Hathaway for giving us her time. I will go again the next time she offers as well.

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