Statistics Resources

This week I will be studying Statistics with both Year 8 (UK, age 12-13) and Year 12 (UK, age 16-17). This prompted me to revisit my Statistics and Probability Resources list and happily I was reminded of some of the excellent resources available. (This is one of many lists on the I’m Looking For……page).

To highlight a few sites from that list:

From the always excellent Standards Unit, we have ‘Mostly Statistics‘. An activity I particularly like which has worked very well in class is S4 Understanding mean Median Mode and Rangeselecting the link takes you to a new page which includes a PowerPoint for the activity with an introduction and the solutions.

I have mentioned Hans Rosling’s excellent use of Gap Minder before. Note the links to a guide to the software and a page for teachers.

For more data sets, also for some very useful Excel files see Douglas Butler’s collection.

Another site I posted on some time ago is Mike Hadden’s excellent collection of resources which includes several Statistics resources.

For older students Jonny Griffiths has a wonderful collection of activities – Making Statistics Vital.

An excellent source of real data for students, from unicef, ‘The State of the World’s Children‘; choosing a report for any year will show you several downloads including some under the heading Statistics; these include Excel files such as this:  SOWC_2013_Stat_Tables_EFS_FINAL

The Tools and Calculators section of the list includes virtual dice, also coins and dice simulations.

A quote to end the list!
“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
Mark Twain.

Hwb Resources….and more on Mini-Tests!

A collection of resources are available from Hwb (the all Wales Learning Platform, note this now includes all the material from the NGfL Wales website). Select Find and Use to explore the resources. The resources are also hosted on TES. (Note that the echalk resources such as the excellent transformations interactives are no longer free).

This on Developing Mathematical and Thinking Skills is authored by Melanie Blount. The resource can be used online or it is possible to download a zipped file. The concept cartoons would display very well on the interactive whiteboard and perhaps provide a useful starter activity.
Resources in this set I particularly like include Large Numbers and True Sometimes. Large numbers consists of a set of 20 questions (with the option to show answers) with big answers! With questions such as ‘How many mobile phones are in use in the world?’ this would make a very engaging lesson activity and would be ideal to use when teaching standard index form. The True Sometimes resource is a set of 10 statements; students must decide if the statements are always, sometimes or never true. (There are links to some Always / Sometimes / Never questions from other sources in the Rich Questions post.)

Week Thoughts
Last week, writing on revision I wrote about my use of  ‘mini tests’. I have used several this week with a variety of classes, with Year 12 I started with some basic calculus in one lesson and trigonometric equations in another. Watching them mark and correct their work confirmed my belief that these mini-tests are very useful; concepts and ideas we may think of as basics are not always as secure as they might be. I have started making a note of questions to ask them as I notice any misconceptions.

Coming up to examinations I often use a timed exam question as a starter which could be just a few minutes, I work out the marks per minute rate for the exam for timing.

I recently set a homework for my Year 11s to look at some specific topics and let them know they would have 35 minutes in class to answer exam questions. We then went through the questions straight away, they marked the paper and I collected their work to see how they did; I always tell my classes I am looking at their careful marking and corrections as much as their original answers. I was amused to see that one of my students had headed her paper ‘Mini-Mock’.

I have started a new page under resources for these mini-tests in case they are useful – just four there at the moment but more to come.

WolframAlpha – Handwritten!

Handwritten cubic curve
WolframAlpha: Handwritten style plot y=(x-2)(x-1)(x+3)

Reading the WolframAlpha community newsletter recently I was amused by their April fool on the introduction of the WolframAlpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine. It seems this has proved rather popular so what was originally intended for an April fool has now been made generally available. I really like the look of these diagrams, I suspect they will appeal to students and teachers, look at this number line for example.

handwritten number line

WolframAlpha: handwritten style number line

Revision Time!

Collective memory - angle facts

Craig Barton’s Collective memory resource – Angle Facts

This week it’s back to school after the Easter break and examination season is upon us. I need to help my students prepare; so, how to help them recall all the concepts and techniques they need for formal examinations? I have become convinced of the need for frequent recall; see this article on how highlighting is a waste of time – and note the conclusion to the Time article ‘ditch your highlighter and get busy with your flash cards’ and this from Science Daily on how short tests improved student retention on online courses (thanks to Earl Samuelson for pointing me in the direction of that article on Twitter).

Something I do regularly with all my classes is ask them some questions at the beginning or end of a lesson to see if they can recall recent (or not so recent!) work. See this file for an example: Mini-test example. The questions are short and can just be read out for students to write responses in their exercise books (making this a great starter – no IT or resources required). The questions in my example here are just recall type questions on a variety of topics but could of course be a series of questions on just one topic; questions requiring higher order thinking skills could also be used (see Rich Questions for ideas). I have added a new page to which I will add any mini-test resources.

I think this type of exercise is valuable at any time, not just at examination time and we should spend time regularly helping our students recall current or earlier work. A really useful source of questions which can be used this way are the mental tests from CIMT; these are included with their resources for Years 7, 8 and 9 and also for GCSE. For Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) scroll down this page for the Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 course material, the resources include mental tests as part of the teacher support material. On the GCSE page scroll down to the teacher support material and note the mental tests available for most units, see this on Formulae for example.

The Collective Memory resources on TES can make an excellent revision activity, students look at posters and then have to understand and recall that information. These can be used in a variety of ways which are fully described in the article. (A further set of resources is available here). Last year my GCSE students created several posters of their own which they found a very useful revision activity.

Bubbl'us diagram

Some students find mind maps helpful to recall information, I have seen students create some excellent diagrams with Bubbl’us for example. For some more online revision tools including some to make flashcards the resources mentioned here may be helpful.

Why should I memorize something when I know where to find it?

According to this story, told by Nathan Shaw Einstein said this. Now I am very pleased that I share my own ‘capture everything in such a way that you can find it again’ ideas with Albert Einstein! I have found some resources I really like recently – so the usual question – where to put them so I can find them again?

I mentioned in a recent post that I came across an outstanding resource on Combinatorics questions by Dr Jamie Frost thanks to the TES Mathematics forum; well Dr Frost has now made his excellent enrichment materials available on The Reimann Zeta Club. This clearly belongs on a list! So I added it to the Enrichment list (for lots of lists see the ‘I’m Looking For …‘ page. As well as adding this resource I checked the various links and also added the Brilliant website I have talked about recently.

Thinking about Enrichment, my own view is that this should be a natural part of the curriculum for all students and made me wonder where my Rich Tasks list ends and enrichment list starts (I solved the problem by adding the Rich tasks list to the Enrichment list!) A recent excellent addition to the  Rich tasks list is Jonny Griffiths’ Carom-Maths -activities to bridge the gap between A Level and University.

Staying with the subject of Rich tasks, one of the entries on that list is the list of problems from the National Strategies site to develop mathematical processes and applications; those archives make me a little nervous – will they stay? I decided to create an Evernote shared notebook which lists those resources including links to to the problems on Nrich. Another recent addition to the Rich Tasks list is this excellent interactive from NGfL CYMRU to explore the Painted Cube problem (explained clearly here on Nrich)

I recently read this post by Don Steward and it struck me what a great starter ‘Sum and Product’ would make. I have so many links for starters they have a WordPress blog all to themselves and I have added the Sum and product problem Don describes to the Algebra page there; also new on Mathematics Starters and Plenaries is this link to which has a growing collection of starter activities (added to the Collections page); I particularly like the Bingo resources

Working on an excellent project for TES recently (more on that later) I came across an excellent resource on fractions by Kaszal, the resource is an A5 worksheet consisting of 10 fraction calculations, some of which have mistakes and/or inefficient solutions. Students enjoy marking examples like this and it can lead to some excellent class discussions. I have added this to the Spot the Mistake page under Resources.

Douglas Butler’s comment on my post last week made me realise that I should include Autograph here, so a new Autograph page is now available under resources. (All resources on this site are free to use, I have included Autograph (for graphing, geometry, statistics and probability) here as although it is paid-for software, Autograph viewer and all the excellent resources available on line are completely free to use and do not require the Autograph software to be installed.

See also: Looking for things!