KAFDOC

This post replies to the prompt, “What is one goal you have for the first week of school?” from Sam Shah et. al.’s New Blogger Intitiative.

[Apologetic Opener]
It’s been a while since I wrote a good blog post, and probably this is not one of them. As usual, what I thought was a tidy idea ended up with more loose ends than, um, unloose ends. You’ve been warned…
[/Apologetic Opener]

[Short Version]
The note I made to myself during pre-writing probably suffices. So if nothing else, check out the link, and then ask, “Really?”

introduce a HOT TOPIC statistical issue — something that seems to enrage with its ridiculosity. could be related to immigration or other hot-button issues.
Example: “The Deporter-In-Chief”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kopRTfWeNo&feature=player_embedded

[/Short Version]

Going into my sixth year of teaching, you might think that I’d have these first week goals on lock down. For sure, I’ve felt fine with my usual combination of community building and interesting introductory math problems. But this prompt lead me to reassess what I’m trying to do for the first week. Simply enough, my goal is to have a completely KICK ASS First Day Of Class.

What are the components of a KICK ASS class, aside from holding down Shift as you type those sweet letters? Like a good book that immerses you immediately in the story, or an album that lets you know right away that “this one’s a keeper”, in this KICK ASS class students will dive right into the issues that define the class as a complete entity.

[Context]
I teach students who have immigrated to the US within the past 1-10 years. The class I’m thinking about in this discussion is targeted toward Seniors who have completed Algebra 2, but would probably not do well in Pre Calculus for a variety of reasons. My only directive in this class is that it fit into the Dept. of Education’s code of “Advanced Topics in Math” and attached subcode “Research and/or Projects”. Since most students have seen only bits and pieces of statistics, I thought that a course that focuses on numeracy using statistical techniques would be valuable to the students.
[/Context]

Pushing back against my desire to dive in is my sense that it’s the first day of class, and there are certain “first day of class” (FDOC) management duties that I need to take care of. Chris Luzniak’s post was helpful in reminding me what an effective FDOC might look like:

1. Assign seats
2. Collecting information on index cards
3. Introductions
4. Go over the Syllabus
5. Do a math problem

Item 5 seems to be the best area to up the KICK ASS-NESS of my FDOC. One end goal of this class is that students will learn how to question the quantitative claims that are too often used to manipulate their opinions. We’ve all heard the lessons of “How to Lie with Statistics”, and while Statistics might have some other uses, surely the act of lying with math will pique a few of my students’ interest.

Enter the Deporter-In-Chief, President Barack Obama.

To the class: What do you think about when you see this video? What questions come to you mind? Brainstorm with your group.

I will write down the statements and questions that the students come up with, and then I’ll ask them to think about any information they would want to know. Hopefully this includes information related to the number of deportations each year, which I will have preprinted for their perusal.

The infamous “Table 36”, from the Dept. of Homeland Security, via Politifact.org:

http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2010/table36.xls
Department of Homeland Security, “Aliens Removed or Returned: Fiscal Years 1892 to 2010,” accessed Aug. 9, 2012

Of course this only raises more questions! Muahahaha…

1. Who was the president in each of these years?
2. Why did the number of deportations decrease from 2009 to 2010?
3. What’s the story with the massive number of “Returns”?
4. Do we need any more information?

Does this video tell the truth? Or is it an example of lying with statistics?

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This entry was posted in curriculum, problems, statistics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to KAFDOC

  1. Tina C says:

    Way to jump right in on the first day! I do math on day one, but nothing that will get students thinking about big ideas outside of math. You are brave and impressive.

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