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Summer Work for AP Statistics

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Each year as the school year winds down we always get the question, “What do you assign for summer work?”. While there is no right or wrong way to approach this, the answer often depends on your own students, schedule, or school expectations. We wanted to take a moment and share our thoughts on summer work as well as a few ideas for those looking for an assignment to give.

Is Your Summer Work a Gatekeeper?

For about the first 10 years of teaching AP Stats, we gave a summer assignment that had students work through Chapter 1 in the textbook. Over time, we realized that we ended up re-teaching most of the stuff at the beginning of the school year and it wasn't really saving us the time we had hoped.

More importantly, we realized that some students were deciding not to take AP Stats because they didn't have the right environment for completing work over the summer. Even students that did sign up for the class but then failed to complete the summer work were dropping the class at the beginning of the next school year. After awhile, we became more committed to removing this gatekeeping in order to get more students taking AP Stats and we stopped giving a summer assignment. Since we made that decision, the diversity of the students taking AP Stats has increased at East Kentwood High School.

Now, we use the summer as a chance to let the students recharge. Knowing that they had a break to get well rested, we feel really comfortable enforcing our high expectations in AP Statistics because it is officially “time to work”.

This is not to say that all summer work is a bad idea. We just think it is important that the work doesn't become a barrier for some students to take AP Stats.

What Are Some Ideas if I Want to or Need to Give Summer Work?

If you decide to give summer work or your school has an expectation that AP courses assign summer work, here are a few ideas that can keep the assignment impactful while still allowing students to enjoy their summer.

Option 1: Get Students Excited About Statistics

Often teachers are trying to get students excited about learning Statistics. One way to do that is to have them do some reading about the topic. Here is a list of books we have heard that teachers are using:

  • How to Lie with Statistics - by Darrell Huff

  • Naked Statistics - by Charles Wheelan

  • Outliers - by Malcolm Gladwell

  • The Art of Statistics, Learning from Data - David Spiegelhalter

One of the benefits of this approach is that it can only help the students. If a student doesn't actually read the book, they won't be any worse off when the course begins. However, chances are that students who did the reading will have a much higher buy-in and willingness to dive into the content.

Option 2: Get Students Started Learning Some Content

If you prefer to have your students working with some of the content, then consider these options:

Learn some of AP Statistics:

The most common thing you may hear teachers do is to have the students learn some of Unit 1 (the one-variable data). Chances are high that certain types of displays (such as histograms and boxplots), measures of center (such as mean and median), and measures of spread (such as range and IQR) have already appeared in previous math classes. Other teachers will choose to have students learn some of Unit 3 (collecting data), as this is extremely vocabulary heavy, can sometimes be dry to teach, and important to understand prior to ever analyzing data.

If you are having students learning new content over the summer, consider using the Stats Medic Video Subscription to help them work through the Stats Medic lessons asynchronously.

Focus on Interpretations:

We know interpretations are a huge part of AP Statistics. To ease some stress through the course, try to have students learn them now. We have the Ultimate Interpretations Guide and practice that could serve as the summer assignment. By knowing the interpretations in advance, students may make easier sense of the calculations as they appear throughout the course. We know plenty of teachers who do a vocab quiz shortly into the school year, or periodically throughout the course to keep these interpretations fresh.

Khan Academy “Get Ready for Statistics”

Sometimes teachers want to focus on making sure their students are comfortable with the skills they need to be successful in the AP Stats course. Khan Academy’s “Getting Ready for Statistics” takes students through the math prerequisites that are needed for the course.

Practice with Graphing Calculators or Applets

We know our students will benefit from being proficient in using technology in our AP Stats class. One idea for summer work is to create an assignment that gets them analyzing one-variable or two-variable data using a graphing calculator or an applet. Students could even find their own data sets to analyze.

Whether or not your students will be working over the summer, we hope that you all have a relaxing and restful summer!

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