Over the years in AP Statistics, I have had students create a poster using the ASA (American Statistical Association) Poster Competition as a guide. I have really enjoyed using this venue to get students thinking about data visualization. The structure of the competition made for an easy implementation into the course. As I looked back at the posters, they had lots of wonderful things going on! Here’s on looking at the influences on the ability to become a US president:
Another compared Personality and Activity Preferences. I asked my students to think of ways to incorporate their 5 supporting questions with their main question and to create intriguing and complex graphs that draw the observer in to analyze the information more closely.
A drawback of the whole process is that once the posters are sent off to the competition, we never see them again, not get any feedback. Thus, I d idn’t have any exemplars to show the next year’s students nor any advice based on assessment feedback. Simultaneously, the time taken in the beginning of the year always made me anxious about whether we would cover the requisite Collegeboard curriculum by the test date; it is always so close as it is that taking the needed days sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t.
I think the experience is super valuable for my students, but the whole poster-thing is a little archaic. This year, as I was adding to my Pinterest boards, I kept seeing infographics that communicated data analysis for so many things. And then when we had the Career day, part of Veronica Smith’s presentation was about how she used infographics to present complex data in a meaningful yet understandable way for the lay person. And this is when I had an Ah-Ha moment! Instead of the usual end of year project, do all of the same things, but have students present findings in an infographic with the in-depth statistical analysis submitted separately.
Here is my first blush attempt at the end of year project. I am really excited but still a little tentative because its a new approach and there are always glitches. But I have a week to think about it!
There is always a pinnacle moment during the second semester when I begin to think, “what do I need to change for next year?!” And today is that day. I won’t say that I’m frustrated by my students, but I begin to long for the “start over” free-ness of the beginning of a new year. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed my time as a teacher. I’m an eternal optimist: “It will be better next year,” “I’ll plan so I won’t spend so much time after school every day grading,” “I know I can re-write this unit to be more engaging!” “There’s got to be a better way to do this, and I’ll figure it out this summer.”
So I started my “Beginning of Year ’15” folder. I have been doing these folders for upwards of 18 years; it is really interesting to look back at how my focus has changed and how some things are central to who I am as an educator. I guess I have always been a reflective teacher, even before it was “in vogue.”
So what do I include, you ask. Here is look at the folder from a year ago:
LEFT SIDE: Based on the previous year’s PD, reading and conferences, I subconsciously begin to develop a Focus for the year (which eventually develops into a Theme or Saying). Around this focus, I try to write goals for my students, their parents and myself (both professional and personal). I then narrow down and hone in on some key things I want to try, I want to change, and I want to keep.
RIGHT SIDE: This is reserved for technology implementation, specific procedures and student engagement or anything else I want to weave into my whole class experience.
So this year, I haven’t actually started to coalesce my thoughts, but I have begun to “gather”. In talking with one of my colleagues, we are interested in working on integrating the Growth Mind Set language and attitudes with our students. This means some more reading over the summer as well as reflecting and conversing with my co-worker about how we might actually weave this theory into our practice in a seamless way. I also have added some quick sticky notes. I will eventually put in a clean sheet labeled for each course with specific ideas to incorporate or replace practices in that class.