Tuesday, December 5, 2017

PBL in Algebra Day 1

This year I've decided to teach statistics using a PBL structure.

In sheltered algebra the project focus (driving question) is on using statistics help the public come to an alternative understanding about the impact of immigration on our country. That project starts in January, though I am doing some language production work now. I have a few posts on this work. Here is the first and second post on this work.

In mainstream algebra, we are also doing our statistics unit using PBL Here the project focus (driving question) is on how can we use statistics to tell a story about...the about is open-ended. They could talk about their particular class, both my algebra classes (I teach two sections of mainstream algebra) or it could be about the 9th graders in algebra at our school.

The other algebra teachers and I created a survey which we gave to all our students a few weeks ago. We are then sharing this data with students and using the data from their survey to teach stats.

Our main content goals for statistics are:
c  I can determine if a statistical relationship is best described by a linear model or nonlinear model.
c  I can use scatter plots of data to create lines of best fit (by hand or using technology).
c  I can use lines of best fit to make predictions.
c  I can describe the form, direction, strength, and outliers of an association.
c  I can interpret the slope and y-intercept in a statistical situation.
c  I can create a dot plot or box plot given data.
c  I can describe the shape, center, spread, and outliers of data given a histogram, dot plot, or box plot.

c  I can compare the shape, center, spread, and outliers of two sets of data given histogram, dot plot, or box plot.
c  I can interpret a given correlation coefficient from a scatter plot.
c  I can determine and explain when it is best to use median or mean to describe the center of data.
c  I can distinguish between correlation and causation (association is not causation) because there might be a lurking variable.

I'm on my 5th lesson. I'll share a snapshot of what we did each day for content and for the project.

Day 1: QFT

We launched the project by looking at a starting statistic from their data. I showed students the following slide:

I used the Talking Points structure to get students thinking about these statistics.  I wish I hadn't included the max and min data on the slide. I think it got confusing for students to see the minimum and median were both 0 (at least at this point in the unit). 

After students talking in small groups using the Talk Points structure, I introduced the project and the driving question (but I didn't say much else). My original driving question was "how can we use statistics to tell a story about social media, but that later morphed into "how can we use statistics to tell a story about...").

 I used a QFT structure to get students thinking about what they wanted to explore in the data. To do this I gave each group a big piece of butcher paper. And gave the following instructions:

Students did this individually. Then, students changed closed ended questions to open ended questions. 

Then students talked as a group about which questions they wanted to share with the class. 

Then, each group shared their top 3 questions.  And, as a class, we started to group the questions into broad categories.

Each class ended up with the following categories:

One thing that amazed me about this process was the way the QFT structure gave students an opportunity to be smart in different ways--as we were trying to group the questions into categories, one student jumped up and shared her idea for grouping them--it turned out to be a great idea and we ended up using her idea. Many students were active that aren't' typically active in my class.

One thing that scared me about this lesson was the fact that I was giving up control--I was scared to give up control to the students (I'm being honest here), BUT I was pleased by the level of ownership students took for this project.

What scared me (giving students agency) is also what engaged them in the lesson. I realized that this lesson was an important moment in my teaching practice. And this lesson made me excited for the rest of this project!

More to come!

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