Teaching Stats Medic Lessons Virtually

We are one week into the school year at East Kentwood High School, and we are still trying to figure out what this year is going to look like. We are starting with 2 weeks of remote instruction, and then students will have the option to go full face-to-face or full remote. While we know quite well what we will do with the face-to-face students (ALL IN on EFFL), we have been doing a lot of thinking about what to do with our remote students. Our top priority is for them to have a similar Experience First, Formalize Later (EFFL) approach to learning that our face-to-face students will be receiving.

There is a good chance that you are also teaching (or will be teaching) students in a virtual setting this year. If you are committed to students learning statistics with EFFL approach, there are many things to consider. After a full summer of teaching online workshops, we have some tips and tricks for making these lessons successful with your students.

The strategies to use depend on whether you will be teaching students synchronously (all students together at the same time) or asynchronously (each students accesses on their own time).

Synchronous EFFL Lessons


In the face-to-face classroom, we have students work on the Activity in groups of 3-4. In the virtual setting, you can create breakout rooms (available now in Zoom and in October for Google Meet) to get students communicating and collaborating as they work through the Activity. Provide a way for students to pick a member of the group to be the "screen sharer" and "reader" for the activity. Ask students to use the Read, Discuss, Write protocol for going through the questions (the "reader" reads the questions, the groups has some discussion, and they all write down their thoughts).


In the face-to-face classroom, we have students come to the front white board to write out their responses to the questions in the activity. In the virtual environment, we have been creating a "student answer key", complete with typical (and sometimes incorrect) student responses. We use this answer key to start the formalization process that happens in the debrief. When we add teacher notes to the answer key, we use a different colored marker, and ask that the students do the same. To do this virtually, you can use any tablet or even a document camera to show the answer key and add in the teacher notes to the margin of the Activity. Programs like Notability and GoodNotes allow you to annotate on pdfs.

Important Ideas

In the face-to-face classroom, the important ideas is where we summarize the learning from the Activity. This can be done very easily in the virtual environment using direct instruction and writing "notes" on a tablet or document camera.

Check Your Understanding

If time permits, we have been sending students back to their breakout rooms to try the Check Your Understanding problem. Students use the Read, Discuss, Write protocol to work through the questions. We then bring them back to the main room to go over the answer key that we prepared ahead of time.

To maintain engagement during a synchronous lesson, we often use polling and the chat window as a way to get instant feedback from students.

Asynchronous EFFL Lessons

The obvious disadvantage here is that we lose the opportunity for students to work in groups, but that doesn't mean they can't still have the experience of constructing their own knowledge. The obvious advantage here is that students can pause, go back, and re-watch the instruction as much as they need. Here are a few tips:

Use Zoom to make your asynchronous videos

Zoom will allow you to record any application you can run on your computer. You can easily connect a tablet or document camera that will allow you to write in real-time. This will allow you to debrief the Activity and write out the Important Ideas. You can also easily show applets or use of the calculator.

"Pause the video now..."

Typically we introduce the context for the activity, then give students explicit instructions on what they should try on their own, and then tell them to pause the video and come back when they are finished to check their answers. The next part of the asynchronous video would show us "debriefing" a student answer key.

Include video of applets/graphing calculator/simulations

Think about how often you use the computer to show something in the face-to-face environment (think Reeses Pieces sampling or the Central Limit Theoem applet). These online interactions can all be recorded and added into your asynchronous video. We are currently working on some applets specifically designed for the Beyonce and Justin Timberlake lessons. Also, Texas Instruments is currently allowing 90 days of free trial use with their online emulator.

Make up the data when you need to

So many of the Stats Medic lessons involve students actually doing something to build a data set. This is impossible in the asynchronous environment, so sometimes you will have to use data from previous years (or just make it up!). This way, the student can try the whole activity and then check their work versus the answer key in the debrief.

Here are two examples of asynchronous EFFL lessons that Luke and Lindsey prepared last spring (before we knew these topics wouldn't be on the AP Exam in 2020!)

Example 1 - Chi-Square Test of Homogenity

Example 2 - Confidence Intervals for Slope

How do I decide which lessons should be synchronous and which lessons should be asynchronous?

As a general rule, any lesson that is building a conceptual framework for a statistical idea is better as a synchronous lesson (think Central Limit Theorem) and any lesson that is more algorithmic and formulaic is better as an asynchronous lesson (think Normal distribution calculations).

All the online resources in one document!!!

We spent the last two months collecting online resources that can help you to teach Stats Medic lessons (big thanks to Aaron Rigterink for the help). Enjoy!

Teaching Stats Medic Lessons Virtually

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