Intro to Stats

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SWBAT understand statistics as a valid process for making inferences and decisions.

Big Idea

Liars, Darn Liars, and Statisticians…but stats don’t really lie, they’re just easily manipulated.

Set the Stage

10 minutes

Put it into Action

40 minutes
  • PowerPoint and Class Discussion 15 min:  At this point I go through the PowerPoint entitled "Good Stats!" It serves as a review for some students and a brief introduction for those who missed it in earlier classes.  I then ask my students what additional information they would like to have and also have them explain why they think it's important mathematically Students are encouraged to challenge (politely!) each other's opinion and to defend their own mathematical reasoning (MP3) as we develop a consensus about what constitutes valid supporting data/information. This is often the first time my students have really explored where the statistics they hear and see all around  themselves actually comes from.  I created a video about student   misconceptions entitled “good stats” as an additional resource for this section. As we discuss the additional information they want, I continue to ask questions such as “How will this additional information help clarify or explain the data?"  When we reach that consensus, I summarize the ideas on the front board and tell the students they will be working in teams for the next activity.

You will need copies of the music brain research handout for this section.

Team Work 15 min: I give each team a copy of the music brain research handout and encourage them to look for information that supports or refutes the original statement, with the caution that any evidence they find must be mathematically sound research.  We have some iPads available for classroom use which I give to teams as they request them for further research.  Our school now uses iPads k-12 so our students are very familiar with them.  We also invest time across the curriculum developing student research skills so I don’t have to teach that at this point, but you may need to review finding and citing appropriate sources.  I tell my students that they will be choosing to defend or refute the statement using statistics and will be presenting their case to the class.  This lesson may seem a bit removed from mathematics, but I believe that in order to understand that statistics are a truly valuable tool for interpreting, evaluating, and making inferences about data my students must first understand what comprises good statistical data/research.  I challenge each team to make a decision about whether they accept the statement or not, again based on  mathematically appropriate information.  As the teams begin to organize their information I walk around the classroom giving support and redirecting as necessary.  

  •  Class Presentations 10 min: After about 15 minutes, I ask for volunteers to present their findings to the class. I give each team an opportunity to speak, then ask all my students to make an independent decision about whether they can support or refute the original statement based on all they’ve heard. I ask them to consider not only their own arguments, but also those of their classmates.  I again emphasize that they need to make their decision based on the statistics rather than just  on what they “feel” or “believe” is best. Your students may all end up deciding one way or they may be split. At this point it doesn’t really matter which they choose as long as each student can support their decision with valid statistics.  

Wrap it Up

5 minutes

There are two activities in this wrap up.  For the first, I ask my students to each write a brief (one-two paragraphs) explanation of why they made the choice they did including the statistics that support their choice.  Although we've already heard from each team, having each student articulate their thoughts individually helps reinforce their abilities to reason and to communicate.  The second activity is both wrap up and homework.  I tell my students that for tomorrow they each need to find at least one article or advertisement that makes a statement and includes some sort of statistics to support the statement.  For example, "Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend Trident sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum."  I ask that they either bring in hard copy of the statement and stats or have a website we can check.  The final part of this assignment will be for my students to determine why or why not the stats supporting the statement are sufficient.