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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Regression Project Day n

Day 3

Oy. So the file-save errors from yesterday were caused by running out of room on our network servers. Luckily I had a couple flash drives lying around we could save to. I learned that kids don't as a rule carry around flash drives.

A student said "This is too hard. You should teach honors, not regents." Apparently using actual data and not made-up crap = "honors."

There are a number of changes I need to make if I ever undertake this insanity again:

"Shiver in My Bones" needs to all be graphed on the same axes.

"Piece of Cake" just needs to be cut from this project because it is the one thing that is not like the other.

"Walking after Midnight" needs to be made at least as attractive as "Harder Faster Stronger" because it was not nearly as popular as it should have been. Also specify that it must be recorded in miles vs hours and not the other way round and not in seconds or...non-miles.

"Will the Ball Hit the Can" needs to de-emphasize the meaning of the coefficients and cut it down to 1 to 2 throws, and emphasize "figure out whether or not will the ball hit the can?"

I need to throughout the year ask more often what numbers in an equation mean. Like what the a and the b mean in y=a*b^x. They were universally, alarmingly, totally stumped by these questions.

(more to come soon. this post is a hydra of a post.)

Day 2

  • Had a student teacher helping today who was really smart on tech so, wonderful. 
  • More victories from refusing to tell them what to do.
  • Asking pointed, leading questions is just as bad as telling them what to do. I wasn't playing that game, either.
  • Google docs wouldn't let us insert an image. It was giving a weird, stupid error. I think it was a google problem and not an us problem.
  • As a result, we gave them the alternative of writing up their analysis as a Blogger post. Dear Google: people don't realize that Blogger is Google and they can use the same login. Just call it GBlogs already.
  • Blogger is not as good a solution for this as Gdocs was. No tables, no equations. And no I'm not teaching tenth graders html and latex in 2 days so don't bother.
  • The student accounts are not able to use TI-Connect to upload a screenshot with the USB cable, because they don't have administrator privileges. Super annoying because I was expecting this to work.
  • Yesterday we had a problem saving the TI-Smartview emulator state because of a "cannot save to that location" error. (I hate that. Why the hell not?) Super frustrating when they did all that work, and it wouldn't let them save. I was going to have kids who were able to save, just email their files to the kids who couldn't.
  • But, some of the kids who did save their emulator state weren't able to open them. Unreadable file something something.

Summary: The tech is very much getting in the way of the learning. Is this still worth doing? I think so. Real data imposes a priceless logic and inevitability that I will continue to walk over broken glass to get to.

Day 1
  • Kids get a laptop and instructions to head to class blog and start reading instructions. Many dire warnings about reading all instructions before starting, reading carefully, blah blah blah. Still get kids going "Can I be in Group A?" Not until you learn how to read, babe.
  • Only a few need to create or recover a Google account, and it is once again surprising to me how hard this is for them.
  • Some don't know how to make a new Google document (add instructions for that somewhere)
  • 17% successfully invite me as an editor as instructed.
  • Pretty sure everyone has at least created the document to edit and started tabulating data.
  • Lots of complaints along the lines "You mean we have to use all this data?!" Only if you want a good model. And have fun in SUPA Stats next year because you thought it was going to be easier than Precalc.
  • Some IEP-ers have trouble with written instructions and breaking large tasks down into smaller ones. Sent lunchtime email to Resource teacher, pleading for help. There are a lot of instructions. I can't give them all verbally.
Group A: In Facebook World Domination, I am patting myself on the back for not telling them how to tabulate months. They kept asking for validation. I kept saying "Does that make sense on a number line? Are data that are 6 months apart going to be 6 apart?" etc etc. They all figured this out and got a little shot of whatever brain chemical you get when you do something intellectually satisfying and I'm glad I didn't rob them of that.

In Blink, lots of kids graphed Transistors vs Years instead of Years vs Transistors. Let it get to the scatter plot, when they realize they don't know a function that will fit that shape? Or nip it in the bud first thing tomorrow? They also used years like 79, 84, 93 but then when they got to 2002 they called it 02. Headsmack. I'm letting that one go until they get confused by their scatter plot.

Group B: Everybody, I think, who got that far, picked A Piece of Cake because it looked easier than measuring and timing the pendulum. They have been miserable at generating data for a Piece of Cake, though. Three cuts only gets you 6 pieces! What do you mean, maximum pieces?! Nobody cuts a cake like that!

Miscellaneous Notes:
  • Plug in all the computers during lunch or they will start dying during 7th period.
  • Scrounge as many TI link cables as you can before tomorrow.
  • This is suffering as much from the "Get it done while learning as little as possible" mentality as anything that ever happened in a school, even though the whole point was for it to be interesting. How in the world do I tackle that 900 pound banana, I have no idea. (Why don't I let them analyze whatever data is interesting to them? Because it was hard enough for me to find manageable, relatively easily-tabulated data that would fit a function appropriate to the course content. And they're supposed to think of something interesting and go find bivariate data about it? Puh-lease.)

Day 0 and less than 0
Collected ideas for fun data to regress. Wrote project description. Got some helpful Twitter feedback and made a few last minute changes.


  1. "they used years like 79, 84, 93 but then when they got to 2002 they called it 02. Headsmack."

    This is GREAT!!!! These kids will understand what the y2k bug is more than most newscasters.

  2. LOVE it!!!! I am totally going to steal and modify for an end of the year project for my math models class. Thanks for sharing!!!! :)

  3. The facebook bit is great. I'm using this in calculus for exponential curves, and in Computer Science for server load lessons. Thanks!

  4. I was going to keep adding on to this but maybe I'll make new posts for follow on days? I dunno. Anyway. Thanks for the props and good luck with it. The project as it stands might be a little ambitious. I think changes will be made for next year. Isn't that always the way.

    @Shawn at the end I will (probably?) do a little dramatic performance about how a logistic curve makes more sense and is an even better fit, but, I don't really want to let on now. They are overwhelmed enough with the four functions they're dealing with.

  5. I love your data sets. I just had a very similar experience with messy data. I was doing a unit on stats and thought it might be more interesting if we developed a survey as a class, got it out to as many people as possible and then analyzed the results. I'll have to tweak things for next time.

  6. I was sitting next to my friend as she graded quizzes for a course she's TAing. (Differential equations, I think.) It was a little disturbing to see how often students did not read the directions. But the fact that college students here don't read directions reassures me that your students aren't alone. (Annoying though.)

  7. a point on screenshots for posting:

    TI Smartview can at least save a screenshot and that can be posted. I use it occasionally to make graphics for tests when I want the exact same screen.

    I've changed to Winplot for graphics most of the time. It's ability to copy using ctrl-c is a godsend and the graphics are much cleaner and much higher resolution.

  8. Yep, that's what we're doing. The Smartview screenshots. I just wanted them to be able to use their handheld instead if they preferred.

  9. nobody reads directions.
    and why would they?
    they're full of lies and nonsense.
    anyhow, there've been plenty
    of times they've been *made*
    to read directions and had it
    been an enormous waste of time.
    everybody forgets this when
    they're at work but they remember
    soon enough when they get some
    new gadget and the directions say
    "read all the directions before
    you start doing anything" (as they
    so often do) and immediately
    turn to mush (as they so often
    do). it's just another way of
    *blaming the victim*... "oh,
    you didn't obey this piece of
    fine print; no wonder it broke.
    send more money. click here."
    it'd be like reading *google's*
    directions: you know they'll
    have changed their own rules
    by the time you begin to
    understand 'em. people
    trust people better than
    programs not because
    people are more reliable
    but because you can some-
    times *reason* with 'em.
    directions just sit there
    being wrong and blaming us.

  10. You can actually get 8 pieces cutting a circular cake with 3 cuts. And they can be of equal size as well!

  11. With 3 straight cuts? Please show me how.

  12. Make the last cut horizontal :)


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