First lessons – Year 12 Statistics


The start of the year is super-important in all my classes – it’s the time when I try to set up the culture, climate and expectations that I want to foster all year.

Here’s what I’ve got planned for my Year 12 Statistics class for the first couple of weeks.

Firstly though – a bit of background…

I’ve joined the #MTBoS 2016 blogging initiative.  Let’s see how long I last!  Timing wise – its a bit trickier over here in New Zealand – exploreMTBoS
my first day of classes for the new year isn’t until Tuesday 2 February, so I’ll miss the 31 Jan date for blogging about one of my classes… I’m running a start of year morning with my staff which will be done in time for me to write about.

My faculty has 15 Maths & Stats teachers, including 3 new teachers to the department starting this year: one first year teacher, one second year teacher, one experienced science teacher who hasn’t taught maths or stats since her teacher training.  We also have in the mix another second year teacher, and one returning from maternity leave, alongside a wealth of experience.  I willingly share my resources, ideas and lessons with all my staff – writing this blog is my way of making it easier to record what happens in my classes for me and for them to refer to.

Right – Year 12 Statistics … I have six lessons in the first two weeks where I hope to (1) get to know my students and develop the class culture and (2) to cover some activities on RANDOM (that’ll have to be another blog post – see here for a talk last year with Grant Ritchie)


Intros & Admin – we are focusing on being deliberate with our actions to help foster positive relationships among our class members – and this is a really tough question – you know that you get on well with your students, they like you and get good results in your class, but what is it you ACTUALLY DO to foster this culture?  What do you do that other teachers could try? Not all students know each other in our senior classes, so it’s important that we spend some time introducing ourselves to each other.  I share a little about myself (usually introduce them to my dogs) and ask them to share something about themselves that no one else in the class knows about them.  As students are doing this, I record who is sitting where and get started on learning names as quickly as I can.  I’ll then go through basic course administration etc.

Weekly Warm-ups thanks to Sarah Hagan (@mathequalslove) I am using these for a second year.  My plan for 2016 is Good things Monday, Strikemere Tuesday, Taboo Thursday & Figure it out Friday (or possibly Friday Funnies – yet to be decided…).  I don’t see this class on a Wednesday. I’ll explain these more in another blog (that’s at least two more I’ve committed to already!)

Relationship building fun task – whether I complete the pipe cleaner building challenge in groups (from Boston NCTM and ###’s workshop – use the pipe cleaners to build the tallest tower in 10 minutes, after 5 minutes silent work with a quirky story for why, after another few minutes, one are only with a bizarre reason…) or just make shape pictures (an idea that came from Angela Brett, give groups a pile of shapes – they have sixty seconds to make the best space ship or car or crazy animal or whatever you come up with – the prize… high fives of course!) will depend on how much time I have left.

Day 2

Senior Student Survey – Students will complete our senior student survey (copy here if you want to look/borrow/adapt etc).  This will collect a variety of information that we may or may not use for further stats classes.  I’ll share a link when its completed.  I have managed to include a couple of experiments, alongside standard demographics and perceptions of themselves as maths/stats learners,  and more quirky things such as student ratings on things like their intelligence, how scary they find pictures, how awful some noises are, how old they think people are, what age they perceive as “old” and “really old”.

Perseverance (thanks Annie @mfAnnie for introducing me to Game about Squares) – Students will play this game, and then I will use Annie’s post as my guide to leading a discussion on how the way they tackled the game challenges can be transferred into developing their statistical thinking processes and being successful in our course.
A big shout out here to Nathaniel (@nhighstein) for his blog post on building culture in his classes, with specific reference to Annie’s Game about squares – I’ll share the results of the survey if I do one in the same way Nathaniel has.  This may flow into Day 3 a little depending on how the survey goes.

Day 3

Random – Marshmallows… The lesson plan is here.  It covers three big ideas around “random” – what does random look like?; making connections between statistical distributions and probability distributions; and connecting theoretical probability models with experimental situations.



Day 4 & Day 5

Mean – MAD – SAD activity from Christine Franklin and the GAISE Report work.  Resources from Chris are here and here, and my powerpoint I’ve adapted is here.

The sequence of learning will take students through Levels A, B and C of the GAISE framework from viewing the mean as a “fair share” value and looking at variation from “fair”, through to the formal quantity of mean and variation from the mean using SAD (sum of the absolute deviations).  We plan to introduce the Levels A & B progressions to our younger students, but this year’s Year 12 students will not have met these concepts.  I’m hoping that by going through the background development, they will have a better understanding of standard deviation as that is introduced.

Day 6

Still to be confirmed, but likely to either be a lead into our next topic – Experiments or finishing off work things from Day 1 – 5 that we didn’t quite get to!



2 thoughts on “First lessons – Year 12 Statistics

  1. Excellent post. Thanks for all of the details, and for the shout out. I appreciate your spirit of openness and sharing.

    The Game of Squares was so perfect to use as a metaphor for how we want our math classes to run and I found that sharing back the results of the survey with students was very effective. We referred back to their answers many times over the first few weeks. And they went back to the game of squares independently after class too.

    The marshmallow game seems like a winner. I’m filing it away for when I get to probability in the spring.


  2. Thanks Nat – I’m going to show The Game of Squares to my staff next week, but its one of those things that would be good to know its fresh if you show it to your students at the start of the year. I’m wondering about whether we tag it to use with a particular year level – or alternatively, find some more of these types of games so we can cycle through them over the years! Suggestions appreciated on this one.
    Let me know how you go with the marshmallows – I’ve tried it in teacher workshops, but not with a class yet – I’d imagine that teenagers won’t be as restrained and polite as teachers (who don’t all know each other). We’ve also found GIANT marshmallows that we’re looking at incorporating into our Experiments topic 🙂


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