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Going ALL IN on EFFL with a Block Schedule

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

This guest blog post comes to us from AP Stats all-stars Kelly Pendleton and Alana Braland.

“You know what I just realized?” I asked my AP Stats teammate the other day. “I haven’t had to wake up a single kid during Stats class this year.” Her reply? “You’re so right! I haven’t either!” This is just one of the conversations we’ve had recently about going ALL IN with EFFL for Stats.

I first read about the Stats Medics and Experience First, Formalize Later at the beginning of the 2018 school year. My teammate and I would download the lessons without reading the blog posts (sorry, Lindsey!), format them to fit our plan, and then stand at the front of the room and work through the activities with the students. Yeah I wished students could work through them in groups, but we’re on a block schedule and we had a lot to get through! That summer we signed up for Stats Medic Summer Camp. We wanted to meet the creators of the “fun hooks” and figure out their secret as to how they weren’t giving traditional notes. On the first day of camp, Lindsey got out her red pen and went through the debrief process. We were in awe.

My teammate and I looked at each other and agreed: “This is so cool now that we actually know how it works, but it will be impossible to do every lesson like this while on block schedule.” Our school operates on a schedule with four 78-minute periods per day. We have a 30-minute enrichment/remediation period that keeps it from being a true block schedule (90-minutes per class). AP Statistics is an A-Day, B-Day course, meeting every other day for the entire year. After taking out midterms and final exams, holidays, and special occasions, we have about 70 days to work with overall. How could we possibly turn 150 days of EFFL lessons into 70?!

The morning after Summer Camp ended, we sat in a coffee shop and modified the calendar we had created just 2 weeks before. We went through the 150 days on the Stats Medic website and grouped them next to our current schedule. There would be days we would have to fit 3 Stats Medic lessons into one, but we knew we had to make it work. We as teachers know how awesome Statistics is, but just telling our students isn’t enough. They need to experience it for themselves.

Since then, we have gone EFFL all the way. While fitting all of these lessons into a block schedule has been challenging, it has been totally worth it! The students’ communication skills have greatly improved on FRQs, they are able to refer back to experiences while studying for tests, and they’re awake and engaged throughout each lesson. A group of students actually referred to the Sampling Distributions test as “fun.” And although our students are not a random sample of all AP Statistics students and we did not randomly assign them to treatment groups, we are convinced that EFFL is the most effective way to teach AP Statistics, even in a block schedule with half the amount of class periods!

Tips for Teaching Stats Medic Lessons in a Block Schedule

  1. Read the blog posts!

  2. If modifying lessons to fit on a different schedule, the experience and debrief must be done on the same day!

  3. If possible, it’s best to combine lessons by making them one fluid experience.

  4. Set up each lesson with a story to grab their attention—lie, fake fall, or dress up as a basketball player if you have to!

  5. Read the blog posts!

Throughout this past school year, we kept track of which lessons we were able to combine into one class period and which ones needed more time than that. We’re excited to share our Block Schedule Pacing Guide with you!

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