I have the wonderful opportunity to facilitate a two week long summer institute on using statistics in an Algebra classroom. I am working with two other facilitators to help 25 classroom teachers learn everything from what a statistical question is to the basics of probability and statistical inference. Our goals as facilitators is to give these teachers the confidence and ability to teach statistics at a meaningful level to their students next year and beyond.

Day 1: The goals of day 1 include familiarizing the teachers with the common core…er…I mean mathematics florida standards, and have them start tackling the idea of what statistics is. One of the other facilitators is tasked with starting the conversation about what statistics is and how its used.

My task on day 1 is to familiarize the teachers with the standards for mathematical practice. Preparing for this hour long presentation I figured I had two options. I could do every presentation about the math practices that I’ve seen and dryly lecture about what the are and what they should look like…or I could throw them into a lesson that I’ve done in the past and force them to live the math practices. I decided to use the car crash problem. Here’s the link if you missed it: https://corycloud.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/who-is-at-fault-for-this-car-accident/

We started with:

The teachers decided they couldn’t answer who was at fault for the accident. So, I gave them:

They decided to check to see if the relationship between stopping distance and speed was proportional. After a few minutes they decided it wasn’t. Eventually, with some probing, they decided the relationship wasn’t linear:

They wanted to know the stopping distance of the white car:

They surmised that the speed of the white car was about 68mph and that that car was at fault for the accident.

That part of the lesson went as planned. Some people were very comfortable with using the math practices in the classroom, some people weren’t comfortable at all, and some people decided not to participate too much in the lesson. It was your typical professional development.

There was one conversation that interested me. A few people “liked the idea” of what we did but concluded that it wasn’t realistic in a middle/high school classroom. Their argument was based on the fact that they had an end of course exam to prepare for. They needed to teach to the test. There’s no way they could do this style of lesson and get anything accomplished in time for the EOC. I tried to assure them that what we did is possible. Coincidentally enough, my geometry EOC scores came in yesterday. Geometry is the class that I’ve spent the most time with creating these styles of lessons and 88% of my class passed the EOC. I really want these teachers to buy into using these math practices for the sake of their students’ learning and loving of math. I’m going to spend every opportunity that I get to present to show them how this can look in a classroom. Hopefully, for the sake of my profession, they decide that this is how a math classroom should look.