EDTC 6431 – Individual Project

Table of Contents

Phase 1 – Lesson Description

Phase 2 – Lesson Objectives

Phase 3 – Lesson Resources

Phase 4 – Success Measures

Phase 5 – Reflection

Phase 1 – Lesson Description

This is a lesson that is called, “So, is that the truth.” This lesson is geared towards high school math students, particularly juniors and seniors. Students will be put into groups and will select a topic to research. The goal is to research a topic to determine if commonly held thoughts on a topic are accurate, mostly accurate, not really accurate, or inaccurate. Students will be steered towards topics that have numerically based, empirical evidence that can be collected and analyzed, such as financial statements, regulatory filings, or government reports. Students will use a spreadsheet program to collect organize, analyze, and build reports. Students will also write narratives that support their thesis and conclusions. A separate presentation will also be created.

Reflection:

Because this is a group project, there is the risk that one or two people do all the work and a few do very little or none of the work. While I think this project would work best with three or four members, it might need to be done as a partner project. I would prefer groups of three or four as this group size creates more opportunity for discussion about how to interpret the data that is being analyzed. However, the bigger challenge will be getting students to select a topic and then decide the criteria to use to measure the statement. The idea is to take something like “Tom Brady is the best quarterback” or “Cancer is biggest killer of people in the United States.” Selecting the criteria they will use to support their thesis will be a big challenge for them.

Phase 2 – Lesson Objectives

As mentioned in Phase 1, this lesson is geared towards high school juniors and seniors in either a high level Algebra or Statistics class. This lesson can either be done entirely within a math class or in conjunction with a history or social studies class.

This project will address one or more of the Common Core State Standards for Statistics. While all of the projects will address at least one of them, the specifics of the data for their particular topic. Objectives include collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data. Other objectives include using spreadsheets to manage and present data as well as using word processing and presentation software for writing and presenting their project.

Phase 3 – Lesson Resources

The primary resources used in this assignment will be spreadsheet and word processing software, most likely Microsoft Office or Google Office, along with data resources selected by students, such as data from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, or others. Prior to, and during the assignment, students will need instruction on data management, techniques for modeling and interpreting data, such as calculating mean, median, mode, standard deviations,understanding distributions and interpreting data. They will also need instruction on graphing and presenting data. The chart Pitching Stats provides an example of the kinds of documentation students will generate to make their case. This particular chart can be used to address whether the recent changes to the Intentional Base on Balls (IBB) rules by Major League Baseball will  shorten the average length of baseball games.

In this lesson, technology plays many roles. The first is that it allows students to access large data set that would be difficult or impossible to access and manage without the use of technology. The second role that technology plays is to allow students to analyze and make calculations using these large datasets. Technology also allows students to report, present, and distribute their findings.

Phase 4 – Success Measures

The key to success of a project like this is to provide students with technical guidance and operational accountability. This will require several group meetings and status-update discussions with the instructor throughout the problems, but primarily during the initial project planning and design phases.

  • Require active mental engagement
    • As part of this project, each student will be required to document their activities during the project. This will allow the teacher to assess how much each student contributed to the success of the project. This will also allow the students to have a better understanding of what they have accomplished during the project.
  • Require practice of new knowledge/skills
    • During the planning and status-update meetings, the teacher will review the plans of what work is going to be done by each student and what work has been done by each student. This will allow the teacher to provide guidance on how to break of the work. This will better allow each student to have the opportunity to have multiple learning experiences.
  • Support learning with tech and media
    • Because data management, data analysis, and project management are skills students will have limited experience with, they will need some additional instruction on those topics. Some will be provided by the instructor with additional support provided via instructional videos available through resources such as youTube.
  • Provide performance feedback prior to formal assessment
    • There are three purposes for the status-update meetings. The first is to use accountability to keep the group on task. The second is to provide guidance as to the direction of the project. The third is to provide general performance feedback to students as the project progresses.
  • Determine success of lesson
    • The success of the lesson is going to be determined by the effort put forth by the students and the overall quality of the work-product created. Success of the project is not determined by proving their thesis. Their success is determined by creating a high quality report that is supported by data and critical analysis of the data.

Phase 5 – Reflection

The challenge of this lesson, for the instructor, is giving the students enough time for the assignment and allowing them to have the room to learn all the real-life experiences this lesson is capable of providing. There are many traps and pitfalls awaiting the students and it is tempting for the instructor to just steer the students away from those troubles. But when we look through the lens of what the students need to learn, the troubles are where the learning is.

For the students, the biggest intellectual challenge is defining their question and understanding there will be legitimate challenges to their work. Sports provides us with a great deal of opportunity to understand this situation. For example, many people claim that Tom Brady of the New England Patriots football team should be considered the best quarterback in the history of football. The most common defense of this position is that he has been the starting quarterback for five Super Bowl winning seasons. But as we extend this criteria through the ranks of other quarterback, we encounter situations that challenge the validity of the criteria being used. Payton and Eli Manning have each won two Super Bowl rings, but few would say Eli is as good as Payton was. Then there are Trent Dilfer and Joe Flacco, who have won one Super Bowl each. Does that mean they were better players than Jim Kelly or Dan Marino, who never won a Super Bowl? Because these questions are not simple “Yes or No” questions, the students need to look beyond the surface and truly understand their topic so they can defend their work.

While this project will contain great opportunities for learning how to use technology, such as spreadsheets, it will also provide important learning about human interaction. Students will need to negotiate who is going to do what work and when it is due. They will need to learn how to hold each other accountable for the work they have committed to do. This project will contain successes, failures, and the opportunity to persist through those failures to accomplish the task as a group.

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