Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Social Media Problem Set #2 - Section 4: Problem Set: Social Media #2

The first Social Media Problem Set requires students to process a lot of data, and for some of my most advanced students, it ends up feeling a little too much like busy work.  These students are relieved to hear that Social Media #2 is different.  When I hand it to a kid and I see that "oh no, not again" look on their face (or if they come out and say that directly), I make sure to tell them: "This problem set will take less than the last one, but it will also take more thinking."  If they ask what I mean by that, I say, "You'll see - and I'd like you to tell me when do."

Moving from computation tasks to interpretation tasks changes student perceptions of mathematics.  Computation takes a certain kind of mind, and it sometimes feels like that's over-emphasized (even over-celebrated) in the earlier years of math education.  I'll look forward to seeing how the CCSS changes that over the next ten years.

Now that we have computers - and I tell this to students - the computation will be less and less valuable, because computers can do it, and they're everywhere.  I show students how quickly Fathom software can make a box plot, dot plot, or histogram of the data from Social Media #1.  What computers can't do is interpret the results of their computations, and that's what we're digging into on Social Media #2.

"Less Work, More Thinking..."
Staircase of Complexity: "Less Work, More Thinking..."

Social Media Problem Set #2

Unit 5: Statistics
Lesson 15 of 20

Big Idea: Compared to data analysis, interpretation of data is less about working hard and more about thinking hard.

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43 minutes

James Dunseith

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