Dec 182012

My AP Stat class has been frustrating me the last couple of weeks. They have been very blah. Not interested in being aggressive in their learning, not thinking about the formulas for stats, and in general willing to just sit there and expect the knowledge to jump into their heads with no effort.

It came to a head last week where we did a problem as a warm-up, then did two problems from homework, and when I handed out an AP FRQ, they all looked at me as if it was the first time they had ever seen the problem when in reality we had just did three of the identical problems prior.

Yea, I was frustrated.

But, instead of freaking out, I started asking them questions, mainly, “Why?” It turns out they were feeling overwhelmed and frustrated too. The formula sheet was a complete mystery to them, the concepts where going over their heads, and they wanted to freak out as well.

So I burned a day going over the formula sheet.

Guess what, no one has ever taught them how to understand what is on the formula sheet. That should not be a surprise to me, but it is. So here is a sample of what I did:


7 elements in the definition of mean are; xbar, equals, sigma, x, i, n, and divide by. I made them explain what each was, and the fact that the equals sign can mean different things was the toughest. So was the fact that the ‘1’s’ in standard deviation are different. We really discussed what these things meant.

Each formula / equation / definition has the number of elements indicated, and a “Hand or Calc?” statement next to it. I didn’t want them to understand the formula and then forget they are supposed to do standard deviation in their calc not by hand. But they need to understand the formula too.

No one has ever done this with them in any class before, this was the first time they have had to really understand a formula sheet. They hated it. They struggled, they discussed, they asked questions, they growled and shot me dirty looks, and EVERY SINGLE person said it helped them understand the formulas better. This, in turn, means they understand the class better.

Success is a beautiful thing when it works. This worked.

Here is the docx if you want it. It is formatted for use in Interactive Notebooks.

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