Guessing Ages Activity

This semester I tried a Guessing Ages Activity as a first day activity in my statistics classes.  My version of the activity is adapted from page 11 of Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks.  I found this activity to be a good ice breaker for the first day of class.  The students really enjoyed working in small groups to guess the ages of people and it gave me a chance to briefly review how to find the mean with students, a concept that they should already know from Pre-Algebra class.  Of course, later on in the class we talk about properties of the mean above and beyond what is learned in a Pre-Algebra class.  But this was an excellent way to review how to compute the mean.  It was also a good way to have the students do some calculations on the first day to break up the long list of definitions that is covered in Chapter 1 in the...
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1.653*Pi Day

Happy 1.653*Pi (5/19) Day!  Yes, I know that Pi Day was way back on 3/14 and that 2*Pi Day is coming up on 6/28.   But celebrating 1.653*Pi Day is a little more fun, don't you think?  Here are few resources that you may be able to use in your classroom: Pi Day Activity My Pi Day Exponent Activity from Pi Day 2011 Pi Day Rap Videos   ...
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Justin Verlander’s One Hitter

Warning:  I don’t normally write about baseball.  But you can’t deny that being at Justin Verlander’s One Hitter game is something special. I have to admit that I went into this game not expecting much from the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers should have been able to sweep the Twins and they didn’t.  Villarreal shouldn’t have had to come out of the bullpen at all on Thursday afternoon.  There are a lot of things that are simply making me angry about this Tigers team.  Let’s put it this way, the AAA people were passing out rally towels outside Comerica Park before the game and I told the woman passing them out to keep it because I didn’t think it would help.  She insisted that I take the rally towel anyway. Anyway, my seat in Section 110 was absolutely lovely.  The people were very friendly for the most part and most people were paying attention to the game.  The person...
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My Search for a New Laptop

This week I bought a new laptop.  My search came down to the final three.  I ended up buying the Toshiba, but I thought it might be helpful to others to post the thoughts that went through my mind while picking between the three, as well as the specs on each of the machines from Best Buy.   Pros Cons HP ·         Low price point; cannot beat the quality for the price. ·         Can do the basic stuff such as use the Internet and create documents for my classes. ·         Had bad experiences the HP in the past, but that was well over 10 – 12 years ago. ·         Sony looked slightly better. Sony ·         Previous Sony Viao held strong for 3 – 4 years; the only reason that I was even looking to replace my laptop is because the battery life was only 15 minutes and the Z-key was broken. ·         Security in knowing exactly what...
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Teaching Control Charts

The other day in my statistics class, I talked about Control Charts.  I really wanted to drive home the point about the difference between individual runs charts and control charts.  So, I did a version of Deming’s Experiment with my students. First of all, it was very difficult to get 1,000 marbles on very short notice, and even harder to get them in two specific colors.  I ended up going to the dollar store and buying the gemstones that people generally put in vases or in the garden.  The gemstones are sold in bags that are 14oz, but I can tell you now that there are about 100 per bag.  The hardest part for me was picking two colors of gemstones that I could actually tell the difference between since I am colorblind. Next up was getting the cups for the students to scoop the gemstones up with.  Since I had students working in groups of 4, I...
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Computer Tips and Tricks

This past week I have had to do a few things on the computer that appear not to be common knowledge.  Here is a brief run-down of computer tips and tricks that I think might be useful to everyone: Microsoft Excel The University of Wisconsin-EauClaire has a wonderful summary of functions needed to use Excel as a Gradebook.  My favorite one is the ‘SMALL’ function, which makes it very easy to drop the lowest score, the second lowest score, etc. This week I also came across a situation where I had to add double quotes around a name and slanted brackets around an e-mail address.  This is very tedious to do for a list of hundreds of names.  But there is hope since there is a very simple formula that can be used to do this. Turning off CAPS LOCK This week a friend of mine asked me how to turn off caps lock.  It really is not that hard to...
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Teaching the Runs Test for Randomness

The other day in my statistics class, I was teaching the runs test for randomness.  One of my students keeps on asking for an in-class activity, and it happened that I had an extra half-an-hour of class time to spare.  So, I adapted this famous teaching experiment for use in my own class. The set-up:  I split the class into 8 groups, with 3-4 students in each group.  Four of the groups were labeled ‘Group A’ and the other four groups were ‘Group B’.  Group A went into the hallway while I explained the assignment to Group B. Group B was the coin tossing group.  They were asked to flip a coin 200 times and record the sequence of heads and tails that they observed.  Once I made sure that Group B understood the instructions, they went into the hallway while I explained the assignment to Group A.   Group A was the random listing group.  They were asked...
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Observations on Plotting Points in Pre-Algebra

Disclaimer:  Some of this might seem very, very obvious.  But sometimes it's good to state the obvious, right? This semester I decided to teach plotting points differently than I have in the past. I started the lesson by handing each student a piece of graph paper and a ruler.  Yes, I know college students should probably be accountable for bringing their own supplies to class. However, in this particular class we spend a grand total of 2 class periods discussing graphing.  I do not believe it is worth it for these students to buy a pack of 100 sheets of graph paper when we do not do 100 sheets worth of graphing in this class. The first thing I had the students do is draw a vertical line and horizontal line down the middle of their papers.  I did not even bother mentioning the terms x-axis and y-axis at this point, as my major focus was on the drawing...
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