Stats Medic Lessons in a 42-Minute Period

Updated: Aug 31


Matt McBurney currently teaches mathematics and programming courses at West Allegheny High School. He has bachelor degrees in Applied Math and Math Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's in Data Analytics from Slippery Rock University. His primary educational goal is continuing to develop student centered classrooms that create equitable learning environments that meet students at all levels. Matt strives to help educators remove barriers and currently works as the Medic's Community Support.


You're watching the clock. The students don’t seem like they are moving fast enough. They have questions, groups are stuck, to finish on time you break the class from the activity, pull them back together and quickly throw the answers up on the board. You lecture through the debrief, lecture through the notes, skip the “Check Your Understanding” problem and assign the confused class homework problems quickly before they head out the door.


Sound familiar? In a 42-minute class period, trying inquiry based lessons can be challenging. But you don't want to lose all the value of putting the students at the center of the learning. This is exactly why I have created shortened versions for every Stats Medic lesson.


It will be helpful for you to know what types of changes were made in order to get these lessons to fit in a shorter class period. Here is a summary:


Rethink the Experience


What’s the context about?


In an ideal class, we would love hands-on data collection! However, a quality personalized context with pre-made data can go just as far and keep the kids interested & invested. Take a few extra moments to develop a scenario your specific group will have fun with.


What Is My Biggest Goal?


When we have less time, we need to narrow our sight on what makes the biggest impact. For example, when teaching graphs, do students really need to spend tons of time hand making graphs? Maybe focus on interpreting.


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When teaching z-scores, is it important that the students standardize every data value by hand? Or understand the transformations by asking students what happened from dotplot to dotplot to get them to realize the z-score formula was used?


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Keep Them Moving!


We want to help them along (but not give them answers). We can still give them “examples” that make them think about the statistics and test their ideas on. This minimizes you walking over to a paper full of incorrect answers.



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If you give them some pre-done work, consider asking them for an extension such as to “fix” the graph and discuss AP Rubric grading criteria while debriefing.


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Notice this is a great time to discuss the importance of little things like labels.