Statistics and Probability for Teaching Secondary Students

By Lynn Selking, Mathematics Specialist

Decisions or predictions are often based on data—numbers in context. These decisions or predictions would be easy if the data always sent a clear message, but the message is often obscured by variability. Statistics provides tools for describing variability in data and for making informed decisions that take it into account.

Iowa Core Mathematics Standards, p. 82

Instructors Wendy Weber and Maryann Huey engage in whole-group discussion for an activity.

Instructors Wendy Weber and Maryann Huey engage in whole-group discussion for an activity.

On June 10, 2013, twenty-one high school teachers gathered together to begin a journey of learning.  Dr. Maryann Huey, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Drake University, and Dr. Wendy Weber, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Central College, made introductions and laid out the plan for the course which would embody learning around both the Iowa Core math content standards for Statistics and Probability and the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Funding for the Statistics and Probability for Teaching Secondary Students course was made available by a Math-Science Partnership Title 2B Grant.  The teachers met during 10 days of summer workshop.  They engaged in the mathematics of the problem-based tasks as learners, modeling what the experiences of their own students should be.  Professional learning communities were formed and the groups developed lessons aligned to the Iowa Core standards to implement in their classrooms, which will form the largest part of the three days of coursework embedded in classroom experience with their own students.  The subject matter of the course was grounded in experiences that arise in the context of teaching in order to simultaneously build content and pedagogical knowledge with a focus on the use of real-world data and technology tools. Evidence will be collected from each teacher’s classroom to determine the success of implementation, as well as, areas that require revision.

Christina Gilpin and Dawn Bessine, both teachers from Burlington High School, are creating data in the Walk the Line lesson.

Christina Gilpin and Dawn Bessine, both teachers from Burlington High School, are creating data in the Walk the Line lesson.

As the world flattens and technological advances in the information age up the ante for success in college, career and life, statistics is considered by many to be an extremely relevant part of the K-16 curriculum for all learners.  This course presents a wonderful opportunity for our GPAEA high school teachers and students.  For additional information, contact Lynn Selking, GPAEA Mathematics Specialist, at  lynn.selking@gpaea.org .

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