Monday, August 29, 2016

First Day of Classes (#DITLife Post 3)

Setting the Tone for the Year

The cacophony of student chatter filled the air as students slowly ebbed into the auditorium.  The school year began with a "Chassembly" or combination Chapel and Assembly.  We began with a traditional welcome by our Upper School Director, Brian Kelly, and our Chaplain, Jennifer Nichols.  Then, many faculty and students shared their birthday wishes for the school. (This year is the celebration of our 275th anniversary!)

I was one of the speakers and my short birthday wish is here:

A few weeks ago, I went to the shore with my daughter Cassie and her friend Hannah.  Cassie had created an eclectic mix on Spotify, which included Bon Jovi, the Beatles, Abba, X Ambassadors, Walk the Moon and Idina Menzel.  On our drive we loudly sang along and at one point we were singing these lyrics from High School Musical. 
No, no, no 
Stick to the status quo 
If you wanna be cool 
Follow one simple rule 
Don't mess with the flow, no no 
Stick to the status quo
In our 275th birthday year, I offer the following wish for our school, our community, our students and my colleagues.  No, no, no. Don’t stick to the status quo.  Be true to who you really are.  Thoughtfully, not impulsively, let us stretch out of our comfort zones and reach beyond our status quo.

Period A - Probability and Statistics

Now for my first class of the day!  Probability and Statistics had 10 seniors in it and we began by watching the video Why You Need to Study Statistics which was found at  I wanted students to know that the class they are taking will be very valuable to them no matter what they do in college and beyond.

Then, I asked students where data comes from.  They crafted their answers in small groups for about a minute and then through class discussion we talked about terms they generated which included sample, census, experiment, categorical and quantitative. How exciting! We hadn't opened a book and already my students seemed to have a sense of some statistical ideas.

Next, we looked at how data can come from a simulation and how simulated results can be used to evaluate the validity of a claim.  The scenario we used came from The Practice of Statistics (4th edition).  Twenty-five pilots are trained (15 male and 10 female), but there are only 8 jobs to be filled with the new pilots.  When the names of the newly selected pilots are released, there are 5 females and 3 males that have been selected.  Is this likely to happen by chance alone?

Students reasoned it was not likely.  They said we should expect there to be more males than females, because there were more males than females in the original group of 25 pilots.  That sounded reasonable, but when we did the simulation with playing cards, getting 5 females by chance alone happened 20% of the time.  We also looked a Fathom simulation for the scenario. In the Fathom dotplot below, getting 5 females happened 41 out of 500 times or about 8%.

A screencast of this simulation using Fathom can be found on my YouTube channel.  Here is the link to the demo. 

Note: I was planning on discussing my other classes and the first day activities, but ran out of time.  The beginning of the school year can be tiring and stressful.  Teaching is a balancing act and I opted to not fully finish this blog entry. Teaching involves making choices and staying sane.  I am choosing sanity.

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