Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"Last Week Tonight" Video for discussion in Statistics class

I like to edit videos that I can use in class. As I make more I will post on Twitter @aanthonya

There are many great videos out there, unfortunately, sometimes the ones I like are inappropriate for school, so I have to edit them before I use in class.

Here's an example from Last Week Tonight.  It is HEAVILY edited, but I think a really good piece for discussion in Statistics.

Here is the edited version:

Please share your thoughts if you think there is something that isn't school appropriate still in the video.  I know we have different thresholds, but please share any thoughts you have.  I can always go back and edit more.

Here is the unedited YouTube video:

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I have been toying with the idea of jumping into the Census at School project.  I am wondering what others have done regarding this project.  Would love to hear what you have done.

Twitter @aanthonya

Friday, August 12, 2016


I watched FASTBALL on Netflix and was fascinated with the history, but more importantly the use of math and science to determine who really threw the fastest pitch ever.

Points I found most interesting and transferable to my students is the idea that we need to compare apples to apples.

The way in which things are measured change over time.  In comparing we need to adjust or correct for differences in testing design.

This film does a great job of that.

Walter Johnson had his speed measured using this contraption:

Bob Feller was measured using this:

Nolan Ryan was measured with a radar gun:

Aroldis Chapman was measured by radar gun too:

The differences in the technology and testing methodology make it impossible to compare these pitchers given the results "as is".

To get the real answer, this situation needs to be MATHed.  And they do it in this film.  They do it in a way everyone can understand, not just math and science teachers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Great Escape

To love problem solving is to love mathematical thinking.  Problem solving is what mathematics is all about!

I love "The Great Escape" a 1963 movie about allied POW's in a German prison camp during WWII who try to get 250 prisoners out through an escape tunnel.  The movie is based on a true story.

How could they get 250 prisoners out of a heavily guarded compound?  What are the math, engineering, and management skills involved with such an endeavor?

The producers took liberties in the storyline for the sake of selling tickets, but what remains very much accurate are the details of the escape attempt.

We could analyze and calculate various aspects of this escape in class when we complete viewing the movie or just some select clips.

You can get information about the movie and the real "Great Escape" online.

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    Linear: The Seven Dwarves

     Algebra with The Seven Dwarves

    Tweet me at @aanthonya if you have questions about this activity.

    I find that even at the point when my 9th grade students reach High School, they still don't really "understand" even the basics of linear equations.   Sure, they can remember how to calculate slope once I remind them of the slope formula, but they don't know what it means.  Y-intercept.....forget it.  They just don't get it.

    So....I usually throw in a little problem in the first week or so where we will construct two lines using all the stuff they probably covered in middle school.

    This simple example hopefully is something I can reference throughout the year as an example.  The example works well for various topics, especially linear and linear systems.

    These video examples are reduced in size to save space.  The versions I use inclass are much higher quality and size.

    version 1:

    version 2:

     Here are some screenshots from the SMARTBoard presentation I use to build the problem and graph it step by step.

    Sunday, July 27, 2014

    TMC14 My Favorite "Moneyball Webquest"

    Moneyball Webquest

    If you have any questions about this activity, please tweet me at @aanthonya.

    TMC14 My Favorite "Stats Mafia"

    If you have any questions about this, please tweet me at @aanthonya.

    TMC My Favorite "Absolute Value Blackjack"

    At TMC14, I presented three "My Favorites"  I have added a blog post for each.  If you have any questions about this activity, please tweet me at @aanthonya.

    Absolute Value Blackjack

    As a statistics teacher, I find it almost necessary to address gambling in my classes.  In fact, during my stats classes we sometimes have casino games!  Green felt tables, chips, everything except for real money.  This helps students to grasp the concept of probability.  All casino games are designed around probabilities.

    I found that it generally accepted to do these events as part of statistical games with 12th graders since they are 17/18 years old.

    Playing gambling games with younger students is a slippery slope so I decided to keep the rules of blackjack, but add in the idea that red cards are negative and black cards are positive.

    General rules:
    Play with standard blackjack rules with the added idea that reds are negative. Use the absolute value of ending hands for comparison.  A negative 18 beats a positive 17 because the absolute values of both hands are 18 and 17.  The dealer busts with a -22 or lower or a 22 or higher.  That simple.

    You may add complexity by limiting the amount of cards to be drawn, or add in a twist like a "0" is as good as 21 or -21.

    The problem with this game is the real probabilities go out the window, BUT it gets lower grade students to do mental math like maniacs!

    Sunday, June 8, 2014

    Wisdom of the crowd

    If you have any questions about this activity, please tweet me at @aanthonya.

    As the year is ending, I realized i didn't do many of the things I had planned to do at the start of the year, so I needed to get in the things I felt most strongly about.

    During TMC 2013 in Philadelphia some of the "Stats Mafia" took some time to watch a video demonstrating the wisdom of the crowd.  You can watch the clip here:

    To make a long story short, in this video, 160 people guess how many jelly beans they think are in a container.  Almost everyone is pretty far off, but as a group they were ridiculously close!  I couldn't believe it!

    I had to reproduce this activity and see if I could get similar results.  Guess what, I did!

    To pull this off, I needed x-thousand "somethings" that were relatively small, inexpensive, consistent in shape and size, and light to carry in large quantities.  I decided to use those plastic beads that kids use to make necklaces, bracelets and other things.  They look something like this:

    These are not the exact ones, but you get the idea.  I will post actual photos when I get some more free time.

    I put 3,116 in a plastic container and hit the hallways.  I asked students, teachers, and staff to guess the quantity of beads.  I recorded a bunch of information about each guess so I could dig into the data afterwards and try to find interesting things.  For example, Social Studies teachers as a group guessed better than math teachers.  Juniors as a group were also closer than teachers.  In fact, they were the best group.  BUT individual math teachers had good guesses, closer than SS teachers and juniors.

    Two freshmen guessed 3,100 which was the closest of all guesses, but i couldn't believe how bad people were guessing!  In fact, one student guessed 50,000 and another 250.  I was truly shocked and couldn't wait to tally the results and prove the video wrong. I spent about 5 days and got 142 people to guess.

    Well boy was I wrong.  The average guess of the group was 3,098!  That's just 18 beads off!  Holy crap!  That's .59% off.  Only a couple of people guessed better than the crowd as a whole.

    Click here to see my data in a GOOGLE spreadsheet.

    click to see spreadsheet in Google Docs

    I will get back to this post and give more details and actual photos.

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    You didn't use algebra today?

    Just because you got through today without using algebra doesn't mean that you shouldn't have used it!

    So often I hear people say they hate algebra!  They go out of their way to explain how they don't use it in the real world and still get by, or make a ton of money, or [insert excuse here].

    There are two things that I usually respond if I don't think it will cause further argument.

    1. You actually are using algebra, you just don't realize it.
    2. If you did use algebra, you might have made a better decision, saved money, saved time, or [insert excuse from above here] better.

    Check out this article in the NY TIMES.  I am both happy and sad to see sunlight being allowed this particular topic.  I would love to see positive changes, but also know that most of the people who impact the way our education system works are not informed enough to make good decisions.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    TMC 2014

    Twitter Math Camp 2014 (Jenks, OK)

    We are starting our gear up for TMC14, which will be at Jenks High School in Jenks, OK (outside of Tulsa – map is here) from Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27, 2014.

    We are looking forward to a great event. Part of what makes TMC special is the wonderful presentations we have from math teachers who are facing the same challenges that we all are.

    To get an idea of what the community is interested in hearing about and/or learning about we set up a Google Doc ( It’s an open GDoc for people to list their interests and someone who might be good to present that topic. If multiple people were interested in a session idea, he/she added a “+1” after it. The doc is still open for editing, so if you have an idea of what you’d like to see someone else present as you’re writing your own proposal, feel free to add it!

    This conference is by teachers, for teachers. That means we need you to present. Yes, you! What can you share that you do in your classroom that others can learn from? Presentations can be anything from a strategy you use to how you organize your entire curriculum. Anything someone has ever asked you about is something worth sharing. And that thing that no one has asked about but you wish they would? That’s worth sharing too. Once you’ve decided on a topic, come up with a title and description and submit the form.

    If you have an idea for something short (between 5 and 15 minutes) to share, plan on doing a My Favorite. Those will be submitted at a later date.

    The deadline for submitting your TMC Speaker Proposal is January 20, 2014. This is a firm deadline since we will reserve spots for all presenters before we begin to open registration on February 1, 2014.

    Thank you for your interest!
    Team TMC – Lisa Henry, Lead Organizer, Shelli Temple, Justin Aion, Mary Bourassa, Tina Cardone, James Cleveland, Cortni Kemlage, Jami Packer, Anthony Rossetti, and Glenn Waddell