Spring break is over: time for… The Candy Strategy

Spring break officially ends in a little under 12 hours, when my first class starts tomorrow. Naturally, tomorrow is the day in our rotating schedule where I don’t have a single free period, so it will be quite a change of pace.

Having just finished up our giant soccer goal geometry project, I’ve given myself permission to work a little less hard on that class for a week or two – my students will actually enjoy a trip into traditional math land, I think, and that will free me up to focus on AP Statistics (well, and the grades and comments that are due on Wednesday).

AP Statistics has not always one well for me this year, and I spent some time over spring break strategizing. I need to teach a few more concepts, help many of them fill in the gaping conceptual holes that our year has left behind, and give them plenty of practical test-taking strategies, all in 8 weeks. To do that, I need to re-establish trust and fun. Rapport. It needs to be a class they, and I, look forward to, and right now it just isn’t.

So, thus: the candy strategy.

I know I’m not the first to realize that statistics and candy go hand and hand – there are pages and pages of candy activities (with a special focus on M&Ms) on the internet. I read a lot of those, today. I think that I can piece together those ideas, along with some of my own, and review every single major concept we have learned with candy. Specifically, for me, a combination of jelly beans, starbursts, skittles, and M&Ms.

Today I wrote a 10-page document (see link at the end) that reviews frequency tables, pie charts, bar graphs, two-way tables, sample design, proportion confidence intervals, 1-sample proportion z-tests, and introduces chi-square goodness of fit tests as a cap, using nothing but skittles. We will work through the activity alone and in groups for the next two class days. Along the way we will review vocabulary, conditions, graphing techniques on calculator and by hand, and learn something new. Plus, eat some skittles.

It feels a little cheap, but I hope that candy will improve the relationship with my students enough that we can tackle this final quarter together with positive attitudes. One more to go!

Click here to access my folder of candy activities, including the very first Skittles Proportions activity.

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