# AP Stats

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by JimG, Apr 20, 2018.

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Apr 20, 2018

There is a chance I could teach AP Stats next year due to the current teacher transferring. She basically built the curriculum from scratch, so that is definitely a plus to have a framework in place already. Still, I am apprehensive because I have never taught AP and because stats is a little bit of a different beast compared to other math courses.

Anybody have experience with this course? What were the biggest surprises or difficulties you ran into the first year?

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@futuremathsprof can help you out if....if he's not too busy objectively or subjectively debating robots and computers with the rest of the gang. I don't know anyone else on here involved with it.

In my district, AP Stats is toxic---no one wants it except the one teacher teaching it. She's been teaching it for at least 10-15 years. When she retires in a few years, it will be interesting.

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4. ### GTB4GTCohort

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I have taught stats but not AP (although that may be on the table for me next year). I love the material because it relates to the real world in ways that other mathematics can't. My observations: because the problems require excellent reading and comprehension skills, people who are good at "traditional" math - (algebra, trig, calculus) - can struggle. Conversely, people who don't do well in other math can love statistics. All the problems are word problems which is intimidating for some students. There is no more "solve for X, given this equation or information".

The actual math is simple in stats - it's reading and analyzing the problems, understanding what information you have been supplied with, and selecting the appropriate methods, techniques and formulas that provide the challenge. Because one problem may take 15 - 30 minutes to solve, students who take stats may need to spend more time outside of class than in traditional math courses. (I teach them how to work the formulas before teaching them how to use their graphing calculators but you may not have that time luxury available in an AP class, which is unfortunate as I feel like you have to have an understanding of the formulas to really master the underlying ideas.)

Students fall into two camps with this class - love it or hate it. One other note - because they have been exposed to simple things like histograms, means, medians, modes, etc. they can tend to come into the topic underestimating the rigor of the class. Good luck, I hope you have the same experiences as I do - as I said above, I love the subject and teaching it to my students.

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What do you mean AP Stats is toxic? I’m curious about that?

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It's like computer science. No one in our department has interest in teaching it is what I mean. It's like "who will get stuck with stats and who will get stuck with comp sci?"

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Look at other AP Stats teachers’ syllabi to get a feel for the contents of the course and what it entails. You will have to write your own or modify and borrow another teacher’s to get your syllabi approved by Collegeboard. You need to do this to have your course approved by Collegeboard and so you have access to AP Course Audit.

Take an AP Stats summer institute course. Seriously. I say this because I took it the summer following the first year I taught AP Stats and I benefited from it immensely! It was taught by an actual grader so I learned what answers were suitable for the FRQs, in particular.

Here is a general breakdown of the course:

-Exploratory Analysis (20-30% of the exam)
-Planning and Conducting a Study (10-15% percent of the exam)
-Probability (10-15% of the exam)
-Statistical Inference (30-40% of the exam)

I recommend that you have students get a TI-84/TI-89. The N-spire is not that great, IMO, for AP Stats and most books are tailored to Texas Instrument calculators anyway.

For every chapter, starting from the first chapter, make the students do practice MC and practice FR questions! I cannot emphasize this enough.

Make sure that you know the calculator functions through and through, such as: invNorm, invT, binomcdf, binompdf, geometcdf, geometpdf, normalcdf, normalpdf, stats plot, one-variable stats, two-variable stats, how to construct box plots and modified box plots, how to plot scatter plots, how to calculate the least-squares regression line/line of best fit, how to use the hypothesis test commands, how to do a chi-squared GOF test and chi-squared test for independence, how to construct and interpret confidence intervals, the zoom function to quickly locate the bulk of your data in a plotted graph, how to adjust the window of various graphs, how to construct histograms, etc.

Also, make sure that you know how to construct tree-diagrams, two-way tables, and Venn diagrams, and to read and interpret relative cumulative frequency histograms (ogives) and to assess the normality of various graphs given various sample sizes. Plus, know the difference between disjoint and nondisjoint events, the contrast between marginal and conditional distributions, what a density curve is, the difference between a normal distribution and t distribution, etc.

For inference testing, know how to identify and write null and alternate hypotheses and define parameters of interest, and the four-step process for statistical inference problems (the “state” part is the first step of said process, BTW).

I hope this helps. Don’t worry, teaching AP Stats is easy! Enjoy!

Last edited: Apr 29, 2018

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I’ve always wondered about AP Computer Science. Do you have to have an endorsement to teach it? I’ve secretly wanted to teach it, but I don’t know if you have to have an authorization to teach it. I do have knowledge of Putty, Matlab, JavaScript, C, and C++ programming languages. Is that enough or do I have to take a certification test or something?

Why wouldn’t someone want to teach computer science? It’s fun and awesome!

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Nope---no special certification required. I was asked to teach it, but I told my boss I would do better teaching AP Biology or AP English Lit than AP Comp Sci. I took one comp sci class in college, and all we learned was Maple so I would be completely useless teaching that course.

Our district is looking to add more comp sci courses besides AP too, but they are having trouble getting anyone willing to teach them because none of us have a comp sci background. We once had to have the media center specialist teach a section of AP because there were 6 sections last year, and each teacher only teaches 5 so the regular AP teacher couldn't do them all.

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Oh, this is great news! I might ask my principal to teach AP CompSci once I take a class on how to teach it. I was worried I wasn’t qualified because I only have a full Single Subject teaching credential to teach math to grades 5-12 and so I thought I was not able to. Thanks!

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Yep, my certification is in 6-12 math, but it seems anyone and their mother is allowed to teach it.......they just don't want to. Come on over to Jersey, and we'll give you a full teaching load of comp sci.

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Haha! I would except I LOVE California. And I couldn’t possibly give up my beautiful private school and teaching AP Stats, AP Calculus AB/BC, Pre-Calculus, plus else. I will just ask my P to pay for the summer institute course (they pay for professional development classes when you take on a new AP class) in the coming year or so.

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Break everything down into lay terms. For example, when introducing z-scores to students, tell students that the z-score is a measure of spread or variability of data and it measures the spread about the mean of a standard normal distribution. Relate this to the area under the curve and how the area to the left of the z-score corresponds to the area under the curve, which is the same thing as the proportion of data to the left of z, which is the same thing as the probability of that event occurring. Also, tell the students that in order to compute a z-score, the distribution has to be approximately normal or normal (i.e. standardized or normalized first) because symmetry is essential to compute the probability. You will also want to introduce the notation N(mu, sigma) so that they identify the type of word problem once they see it.

What works really well for me is having the students read through the problem, underline important information like the mean and standard deviation, as well as the type of distribution (if directly stated), and then to write down what we know. This “bookkeeping system” allows students to quickly deduce what methods or techniques to utilize to solve the problem. In this case, they will be told the distribution is approximately normal and the mean and standard deviation, and then will be asked to find a standardized value of some sort. That is an indicator that they will need to use the z-table/z-score formula or graphing utility (invNorm) to find said value.

Now, if it is a mean problem, and the students are told the sample was taken from a large population instead of being provided with its shape, then they should be able to figure out that the sampling distribution is approximately normal regardless of the sample size due to the Central Limit Theorem. Then, proceed like before to compute the z-score or compute the critical value using invNorm and solve. By contrast, if this were a proportion problem and the population standard deviation is unknown, you could NOT apply the Central Limit Theorem and you would have to use a t score/t distribution instead.

The key to students succeeding is show them each type of situation and breaking down each problem so they know when to do what. Finally, have THEM write a table of which functions and commands to use when given certain pieces of information.

Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
14. ### GTB4GTCohort

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OP, this is good advice for a new teacher of stats.The students need to know not only the HOW but the WHY probably more than they do in a 'regular" math course.

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15. ### a2zMaven

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What do you mean by this? Have you had experience programming or have you just played around?

I think it is a disservice for someone to try to teach AP Comp Sci if they haven't had any experience programming especially if this is the students first experience with programming. If someone doesn't really understand programming it is like teaching math when you don't understand the theory but know the procedures.

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16. ### a2zMaven

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How well do you understand statistics? Unless you know it well, teaching AP is not the way to start.

You might want to get the AP stat's book and see how well you would do taking the practice test. I am a strong believer you can't teach something you don't understand and do it service.

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Um, I took several programming courses in college in my math program because they were graduation requirements. I understand them well enough, but thanks.

18. ### a2zMaven

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I've known people who claim to "have knowledge of" programming languages who just played around with them on-line but couldn't really do anything substantial with them. They didn't take courses but claimed to know them. But you know that "knowledge of" is a highly subjective term.

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Oh, gotcha. Why would someone claim to know something when they don’t? That will almost certainly come back to bite them in the butt later. Yes, it is certainly subjective... LOL

Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
20. ### a2zMaven

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Inflated ego, want a job that requires the skill and hopes they could learn on the fly, wanting to impress (not claiming you were doing this), or many other reasons. Some can pull it off, but most can't. Depending on the situation they can sometimes blame everything but the truth for why things aren't working out as others expected.

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Thanks for the lengthy advice FMP. I had already looked up a summer course and am waiting to hear back on funding for the registration and lodging. I feel confident myself with the material, but pedagogically I am still trying to determine a the best game plan. The “book keeping” with each problem is a good idea.

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