Just got back from the fall meeting of my favorite local teacher circle, PASTA. The Philadelphia-Area Statistics Teachers Association meets a few times each year to share best-practices in statistics teaching. Many of this month’s presenters are AP Statistics readers, and the ideas are not specific only to stats…we just share great classroom action. I gave a recap of our last meeting in the winter; enjoy the great ideas from our Fall meeting, and visit Beth Benzing’s website for materials from the meeting!

Daren Starnes, famous in the Stats-world as author of The Practice of Statistics, shared his first experience with Team Quizzes. I have tried team quizzes before, mostly for quizzes where I knew students were having the most difficulties with material. But Daren added some features I had not before considered:

- Students are assigned to their teams at random.
- Each team member received a copy of the quiz, and must complete the quiz.
- In a quiz, one question is chosen randomly to be graded from each paper. A student’s grade is a combination of the score they receive on the question, along with the average of the scores from the other papers in the team.

Daren also commented on the roles of introverts and extroverts in the teams, and how this method could empower introverted students to self-advocate. He suggest the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts as a resource.

Adam Shrager, famous as the social director and man-about-town at the AP readings, shared his movie-correlations activity. This has become one of my favorite activities during the stats year. Students are asked to fill out a movie-preference survey, which Adam then uses to compute peer-to-peer correltations in Excel. (look for “correlation” in excel…you may need to activate the Stat Pack) Discussions regarding the interpretation of positive and negative correlations then occur. Most importantly, mis-conceptions of the meaning of low or zero r-values are discussed with a context easily understood by students.

Leigh Nataro shared her “Pacing a Normal Distance” activity, where students walked between 3 different campus buildings using “meter-long” steps. The data is then entered into Fathom, and is used to discuss variability, the 68-95 rule, and normal probability plots. Fun discussions of outliers and error as well!

Our host, Beth Benzing from Strath Haven High School, shared a family income Fathom file which draws samples of various sizes from a clearly skewed distribution. In addition to to having students record observations and work towards generalizations, Beth has worked to increase the rigor in her associated questions, using past AP items as her framework. Some examples:

- What is the probability that a sample of 5 families will have a combined income of over $500,000?
- What is more likely: a sample of size 5 having a mean income of over $80,000, or a sample of size 25 having a mean income over $80,000? You may recall a similar AP question from a few years ago regarding samples of fish.

Brian Forney shared ideas for bringing concepts from Sustainability to the AP Stats classroom. In one example, Brian shared data on depths of ice sheets over time, with excellent opportunities to discuss cause and effect from scatterplots. Check out Brian’s presentation on Beth’s website.

Finally, I was happy to share my recent lesson on Rock, Paper, Scissors and two-way tables.

The meeting concluded with some great ideas for making multiple-choice assessments more fair and effective. There were a number of excellent ideas here, but I think I’ll look up some more info on alternate assessment methods and save it for another post…so stay tuned!