Statistics Workshops for Math, Science Teachers Held in Chicago
Tenth Annual Meeting Within a Meeting Held in Conjunction with JSM 2016
Katherine Halvorsen, MWM Program Chair, and Rebecca Nichols, ASA Director of Education
The first MWM workshop was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2007 and focused on middle-school math and science teachers. Its success led Martha Aliaga, former ASA director of education and creator of MWM, to recommend expanding the Denver MWM workshop in 2008 to a two-day format that included separate strands for K–4, 5–8, and 9–12 teachers. MWM 2009 in Washington, DC, included parallel strands for K–4, 5–8, and 9–12 teachers on the first day with a field trip to the U.S. Census Bureau on the second day. MWM 2010 in Vancouver, BC, was the first international MWM workshop jointly sponsored by the ASA and Statistical Society of Canada and included both U.S. and Canadian presenters and participants. MWM 2011 in Miami Beach, Florida, and MWM 2012 in San Diego, California, included separate workshops for middle- and high-school teachers focused on the statistics content in the Common Core State Standards. Additionally in 2012, MWM participants were able to choose to attend the International Census at School workshop for two additional days after MWM. In 2013, MWM was held after JSM as a combined workshop for middle- and high-school teachers at the ASA office in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2014, in Boston, and 2015, in Seattle, MWM again offered separate workshops for middle- and high-school teachers.
The American Statistical Association sponsored a two-day statistics workshop called Meeting Within a Meeting (MWM) for middle- and high-school mathematics and science teachers August 2–3 at the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Chicago, Illinois.
This year, 31 high-school and 13 middle-school teachers, administrators, and mathematics educators attended the workshops that addressed statistical concepts taught in middle and high school. Attendees included mathematics content specialists from the Illinois State Board of Education, the high-school mathematics specialist for Chicago Public Schools, and the chair of the Math Operational Working Group for PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
The MWM workshops emphasize the growth of statistical literacy and thinking as teachers explore problems that require them to formulate questions; collect, organize, analyze, and draw conclusions from data; and apply basic concepts of probability. A follow-up program is planned that will help keep the teachers who attended MWM and the ASA in contact via webinars and email.
The primary goals of the MWM 2016 program were to introduce middle- and high-school math and science teachers to the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report: A Pre-K–12 Curriculum Framework and the statistical content of the Common Core Mathematics Standards (adopted by most states, including Illinois), as well as provide an opportunity for teachers to discuss and apply these data analysis and statistical concepts.
A secondary goal was to encourage cooperation between mathematics and science teachers in the teaching of statistics.
The MWM program is designed to enhance educators’ understanding of statistics and provide them with hands-on activities they can use in their own classrooms to strengthen the teaching of statistics in their schools.
“One of the primary missions of the American Statistical Association is to work for the improvement of statistical education at all levels,” said Ron Wasserstein, the ASA’s executive director. “We are pleased to reach out to the K–12 mathematics and science community through the MWM workshop and follow-up activities,” he added. “MWM will not only enhance understanding and teaching of statistics concepts in the classroom, but also provide participants with a network of statisticians and educators to assist in developing the quantitative literacy of their students.”
Each workshop day of MWM 2016 consisted of three sessions and a closing period used to reflect on the day’s work and allow participants to provide comments about the program to the organizers. The workshop sessions were preceded by an overview of the GAISE report and Common Core standards relevant to the audience.
New this year, MWM attendees participated in a lunch presentation and discussion as part of an ASA member initiative lead by Mark Ward of Purdue and Donna LaLonde of the ASA to bring teachers and statistics educators together to watch the Navajo Math Circles documentary and discuss creating stats circles. Amanda Serenevy of the Riverbend Community Math Center, who is featured in the documentary, participated in the first day of the MWM workshop as a guest and led the lunch discussion.
Middle-school teachers attended the workshop sessions on both Tuesday and Wednesday and participated in discussions about formulating statistical questions and collecting data, measures of center and variability, investigating sampling variability, comparative inferences about two populations, investigating patterns of association in bivariate quantitative data, and free K–12 statistics education resources, including the ASA poster competition.
The three sessions in the high-school program on Tuesday included discussions about statistical questions and study design; recognizing data types and the appropriate methods for displaying, summarizing, and comparing them; using the normal distribution as a measure of extremeness; and using randomization tests to make inferences and justify conclusions. High-school teachers were given the option on Wednesday to attend the second day of the middle-school workshop (to see what should be taught before students reach high school) or attend statistics education sessions at the Joint Statistical Meetings. Some also attended the Beyond AP Statistics (BAPS) Workshop, which was held in conjunction with JSM on August 3.
MWM program chair, Katherine Halvorsen of Smith College, planned the MWM program, while ASA Director of Education Rebecca Nichols managed the website, registration and evaluation procedures, and logistics of setting up and advertising the conference. Mary Kwasny and members of the Chicago Chapter were helpful in spreading the word among Illinois educators. Ann Cannon recruited five teachers from Iowa to attend the workshop and met with them at the lunch.
MWM 2016 presenters included ASA/NCTM Committee Chair Chris Franklin (University of Georgia), ASA/NCTM Committee Past-Chair Patrick Hopfensperger (retired high-school teacher), MWM Program Chair Katherine Halvorsen (Smith College), and Anna Martin (University of Auckland, New Zealand). Martin presented at MWM as part of an effort to enhance international collaboration with the New Zealand Statistics Education Committee. Additionally, ASA President Jessica Utts, ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein, Chicago Chapter President Steve Olson, and Chicago Chapter members welcomed attendees.
All teachers who attended MWM were given a certificate of participation issued by the ASA and the option to receive one semester graduate credit hour through Adams State University. The ASA will provide follow-up activities throughout the 2016–2017 school year, including webinars that will continue to be archived.
The 2017 MWM will be held in conjunction with JSM in Baltimore, Maryland. Further information about the workshops and scholarships to help teachers attend will be available on the ASA website as it becomes available. Questions should be directed to Rebecca Nichols.