Ponderings About AP Statistics Part I: Reading the Textbook #eduread


I’ve waited most of the summer before I pondered over my first attempt at teaching AP Statistics until after the scores release this past week.

It was quite an experience for me.  First time teaching the course – my week at APSI was overwhelming, now, I look back and have a slight clue as to what Landy, our facilitator was sharing.  The course was a semester block – thankfully it was in the spring.  And we had lots and lots of snow days.  Grateful to have had edmodo as a medium to share notes and HW, answer questions, submit quizzes.

Mostly listening to discussions of experienced teachers, I am hearing these commonalities:

  • How can I do a better job of accountability to reading textbook?
  • How do I find time to score/purposefully use class time for free response questions?
  • Due to several stats teachers in our #eduread chat of Make it Stick (Brown), how can we interleave practice? or lag homework?  When do we find time for lowstakes testing?  Practice retrieval within these structures?

My intentions are to post over the next couple of days to address these questions and separate some thoughts winding through my head.

Concern #1 Accountability to read textbook?

Many students will get by with as little reading as possible.  As I consider my students who were successful vs. not successful on their AP exams, some were not successful because they never read the first page in the textbook unless it was an in class activity.  They never engaged with vocabulary outside of class time.  They did not prepare themselves to pull it all together and make connections in the end because of their lack of preparation on the front end.

At some point, the teacher can only provide so much information and instruction, if the student chooses not to interact intellectually, there is nothing the teacher can do.

I attempted to use activities that would assume little to no textbook reading.

One of the files @druinok had shared was a reading guide.  Of course, I passed this out to students at beginning of a unit/chapter.  It included essential questions.  Those who utilized it typically scored better on exams.  A couple of times toward the end of the semester, I followed a structure she had shared – essentially a jigsaw.

The reading guide was split into 4 similar size sections: red, yellow, green, blue.

After a couple of days within a chapter:  activity, notes / examples / practice, the next day each student received a color dot when they entered class that day.

When the assignment was made students were given the section that corresponded to their dot and asked to lay their pencils down and read the questions in their section only and then stop.

Timer was set for 10 minutes or so to skim the chapter from the textbook, answer their questions, recording the page number where they found their response.

Next they were in small groups with like colors to discuss their responses and agree on the big ideas.

*** I believe this is where I want to adjust for next year by teaching students the Visible Thinking Routine (VTR, Ritchart, et al) Sentence – Word – Phrase (SWP).  You can read more from Jill Gough here at Experiments in Learning By Doing.

Each color then jigsawed with other colors to share their responses, at least page numbers in hopes to complete the reading guide.  Yes, ideally I WANT them to read the entire chapter, however, I’m a realist that some never will unless its an in class task.  At least with this structure, they’ve read (skimmed) a section and responded to questions in order to help classmates.

The last step was a reflect and connect:  Any a-has?  Share something another color shared in your group.  How did this connect to activity/work we did previously?  Generally, I’d like this to take place as a whole – class discussion.  However, depending on time, an exit ticket with their responses to reflect and connect gives me enough information to see possible gaps for the following day.

*** This VTR is very doable.  I wonder after the reading, if they discussed and shared with like color reader how their SPW would compare?  What if each person who read the same section, recorded their SPW on a combined chart paper, then we carousel the room, noting similarities and differences prior to whole-class discussion?


(yes, Jill’s  cute, informational doodle notes are fun to read too!)

So Stats folks (& other math teachers who require reading in class) – can you see this working?  how? what changes?  Yes, it is more class time if done in class, but if they aren’t reading and I need them to, I see this as a place to start, at least until they learn the thinking routine.

Maybe later we can wean them from class reading – Your HW assignment isn’t to read the entire chapter but these ___ sections with SPW and be ready to share out when you come to class tomorrow.  Hmmm?

This routine and structure of class sharing allows students the opportunity to interact with what they are reading individually, then with partners, again with other partners and finally with whole class discussion/reading posters.

The idea is to eliminate the illusion of understanding when all they’ve done is just read but to help them develop some routines that will allow them to interact with the information they are reading – as we read early on in Make It Stick.


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