## Friday, October 11, 2013

### Exploring the #MTBoS - favorite rich lesson

In Algebra 2 and Statistics we discuss Normal Distributions.  This interesting topic sometimes has difficulty really sinking into the students' minds.

The students, however, have no problem recognizing that I am not a very tall math teacher.  I top out at just over 5 feet 5 inches tall.  As I teach high school, many of my students are taller than me, particularly the male students.  given that height is a topic applicable to Normal distributions, I decided that this would make a good way of engaging the students with regard to something they are already interested in .

My lesson is : "Is Mr Hills Normal??"

Given that I'm the "fun" and less conventional math teacher around here their immediate response is "no" (or maybe they're just commenting on my height).

We decide during the course of the discussion that I am probably "normal" if my height is within 1 standard deviation of the mean.  Data collection is always fun and I usually get measured 2-3 times to make sure I'm not cheating.

When all the results are tallied and z-scores are computed, the results are always surprising to the students.  At this point a discussion always ensues, because the result isn't what they expect.

Cause the thing which I know that they don't is that when you factor in both genders I do fall within a normal (in both senses of the word) height. On the first day I don't concern myself with such trivialities. On the second day of the lesson I do have them divide the data up to look at samples of the data, and the natural division is by gender.  On this day I generally, though not always, end up losing the title of "normal".

I have data from the past 2 years of students saved, I really should use it in class next time I do this lesson.

1. Nice lesson. So many strong aspects. Data about them, understanding distributions, super concrete question that also makes you more accessible.

I like the idea of using it with current student data, then broadening for the whole pool.

2. As a fellow stats teacher, I love this idea. Always great to see a teacher put themself out there for the cause of math, especially as many of us are distinctly non-normal.

3. Hi Hills,

Love this idea! I wonder how "normal" it is that I am 5'3", my husband is ft and my daughter is 5'9"! How often is the younger of two sibs of the same gender taller? (Like with my girls, my friend's girls, my other friend's boys, and my sister and I? Can that also be looked at with a normal distribution? We will be covering Stats in Alg 2 in spring. Loved teaching the unit with IB Math Studies students.

4. This is a wonderful lesson and beautifully in context. I love data collection and statistics but haven't had to pleasure to teach at that level. I will definitely be integrating this task when I do. Keep up the good work.

5. This is a wonderful lesson and beautifully in context. I love data collection and statistics but haven't had to pleasure to teach at that level. I will definitely be integrating this task when I do. Keep up the good work.