Stats, Gangnam Style: YouTube, Assessment, Surprises

My school year is  well underway !  I’m teaching three sections of AP Statistics,  two sections of Precalculus, and working on a new  sports research course  “Sports, Stats, and School.” 

With nearly 50 students in AP Statistics,  I’m finding it more challenging to construct meaningful assessments that allow me to give clear, focused feedback to students quickly and effectively.  This year, two of my students have opened up my eyes about different ways of assessing their understanding of AP Stats.

On the first day of AP statistics, students complete a  Day One Survey.  As they acquire facility in exploratory data analysis,  they  begin working on a short  Case Study in AP Statistics.

This year, two  students constructed a You Tube Video  of their work as they were completing the assessment.

Check out the Day One Survey

the ground rules for Case Study discussing important content from Chapters  1 and 2,

and  the You Tube Video    that was inspired by the process.

The learning payoff  for doing such tasks is hard to overlook, even though some people may view such things as “fluffy”  or “fun” tasks.

The students showed their “smartness” in ways that more “accomplished” students may not be able to do.   Math Teachers: I challenge you to invent lyrics to a fast-paced 4 minute song about math class.

The students ended up doing their best work  on a slightly more traditional assessment of the content:  stronger than anything they had done earlier in the year. I think that the freedom to use their best strengths in one area gave them ways to do stronger work in other areas.

The students generated enthusiasm for the course and future assessments. Hey… can we do that too for extra credit?  What is we do this instead?  What if we….”   

The students made me and my colleagues re-think what qualifies as “legitimate assessment of understanding.”  I believe that the process of creating this video and writing the lyrics required more than simply having fun with the assignment:  they had to create a storyline that made the question meaningful.  They had to contextualize z-scores beyond what I asked i, skeptical. After watching it, one replied, “Wow. That was awesome.”

The video also sparked continued dialogue with my colleagues about alternative assessments in math. We talked a lot about what will happen when more students start doing assessments like these:  how do we support their work without over-taxing the times/ resources of the  students/ teachers /colleagues?  What support tools do we need to provide for students?  Which apps / programs / hardware make these tasks doable for a busy student?  What do we need to learn/troubleshoot?

… and yes, they definitely earned some extra credit!

Comments?  Thoughts?   

About roughlynormal

I have been a math/statistics teacher for 20 years. I currently teach at a college prep school in southern California. I also coach teaching fellows for Math for America - Los Angeles chapter. I love my career, my colleagues, and my friends & family.
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