Saturday, December 19, 2009

College Football Bowl Picks '09

Everyone knows I'm a fan of college football. Last year I did this, and I did absolutely horrible. Let's try again. I can't possibly do worse. For some matchups, I'll even call the score.

Wyoming over Fresno St
Rutgers over UCF
Middle Tennesee over Southern Miss
Oregon State over BYU
Utah over California

Nevada over SMU
Ohio over Marshall
Pitt over UNC
USC over Boston College
Clemson over Kentucky

Texas A&M over Georgia
UCLA over Temple
Wisconsin beats Miami
Bowling Green beats Idaho
Nebraska over Arizona

Air Force beats Houston
Oklahoma beats Stanford
Mizzou over Navy
Minnesota over Iowa State
Tennessee beats Virginia Tech

Auburn beats Northwestern
Penn State over LSU (Close one, but give it to PSU)
Florida State over West Virginia (You can't go against Bobby Bowden coaching his last game ever)
South Florida beats Northern Illinois
UConn beats South Carolina

Ole Miss beats Oklahoma St
East Carolina over Arkansas
Texas Tech beats Michigan St
Central Mich. over Troy

The BCS games
Ohio State 30 Oregon 20 (has Oregon played any teams that play defense?)
Florida 31 Cincinatti 10 (Cincinatti gets played off the field after their coach leaves for ND)
TCU 28 Boise St 3 (Boise St has been a pretender all year. Both of these teams can afford to play 4 bad games a year and still go undefeated.)
Iowa 17 Georgia Tech 13 (I like Kirk Ferentz with time to get ready for Tech's triple option)
Alabama 31 Texas 14 (Texas will score 2 late touchdowns)

So there you have it. I missed 10 out of 34.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Lost Art of Copying Stuff Down

Take notes! Take notes! Take notes!

Such was the method of learning when I was in school, as the teacher knew it all, and the student was there to....take notes. It was a skill that carried over to other areas of life, I took a message on the phone by writing it/copying it down. If something was important, I wrote it down.

When is the last time you(as a student) needed to copy something down outside of school. What I mean is, when you organize information for writing a paper on it, how do you do it? Do you copy those notes down, then open up a word document to write it? I can speak from personal experience in writing papers for graduate school, any information that I gather gets copied and pasted or typed directly into a Word document. The sweet part is that it's there forever (until I delete it). No need to manage a bunch of spare pieces of paper or a notebook. It's actually much more efficient to keep an electronic version.

Where am I going with this? Oh school, your main task is usually to "copy these notes down!!!!". Is there any wonder that your skill level at it is incredibly low? No offense, you just weren't brought up to keep your information via pen and paper. As a matter of fact, it is a skill you will rarely need. Yeah, I said it.

"But what about at college, don't you have to take notes in class?" No. Why not spend your time paying attention in class instead of writing things down? If you have never learned by writing down what someone else was writing, it won't all of the sudden start to happen because you're in a univesity setting.

The alternative and better means of note-taking: pay attention in class and maybe jot down a question or two that you might have (then ask it). Go home, Google whatever you were talking about that day and you will likely find a course page, someone's notes, or a tutorial on that topic. Read through all of those and synthesize all of the information you've received. No paper, no notebooks, just your brain. Yes, you're going to find a ton of information, and it's going to be exactly the same as what you are being instructed on. Statistics is still Statistics whether it comes from someone at North Penn High School or San Diego.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Welcome...and some Reading Quiz Feedback

First of all, welcome to the class and welcome to AP Stat, and I hope all is going well in your first days of school. I see by some of the Reading Quiz responses, that many of you will enjoy Penn State references throughout the year. I suppose I can allow 1, maybe 2 per month. Lucy(my dog) is able to remain impartial (my wife attended PSU).

Second of all, I want to use this blog as another form of communication with you, instead of getting on a tangent/rant/off-topic debate during class. The first thing I hope to communicate to you is some feedback about the Chapter 1 & 2 Reading Quiz. Good news is that I only have a few comments about it, you did pretty well.

On the reading quiz, several students showed a bit of uncertainty about mainly the Who and the What. Not many other errors were made in the understanding of the rest. Good thing is, When, Where, Why, How are important, but not the major players that Who and What are. So, for some emphasis, the Who is the population or group that you are studying or collecting information from, they generate the data. There has been confusion in the past with students mistaking the Who for the people who conduct the survey. The What is the variables that were measured, and they may be either categorical or quantitative. It is often helpful to consider the units. So, to identify the what, look at the data that was collected and determine what variable was represented.

In closing, great job on the reading quiz, keep reading the book! Take it easy. See ya in 12 hours!

-Mr. C

Monday, April 13, 2009

Man it's been a while

Hey, there's been an issue with Websense at school, so the blog has been very quiet as of late. Hopefully that changes, as I have some ideas leading up to the AP Exam.

First and foremost, hope everyone enjoyed Spring Break. It has been a very welcome break from a school year in which we have all worked incredibly hard. You deserve it, now let's get ready for that final sprint towards the AP Exam.

Second of all, AP Exam is coming up! Hopefully some of you have been opening a review book and taking care of some exam preparation. Pay attention to Experimental Design and Linear Regression.

My estimation of where we stand as far as the AP Exam is that you have become quite capable learners over the course of the year. A few months in, I'm sure there were a lot of you saying "Everyone told me this class was easy. They all lied to me!". Now, I have seen the majority of my students become productive, independent learners. The goal of my classroom is to do much higher level activities than go over HW problems. I have seen you respond very well to that philosophy, and it has definitely shown in the quality of work you have put forth. I've seen great improvements in not only Stat knowledge, but attitude toward learning and school. Work needs to be done for understanding, not just because it's going to be checked. This is an attitude and skill that is going to serve you very well in college, and I'm proud of those students that display this attitude. Keep it up!

I feel as if everyone of my students has an incredibly legitimate chance of achieving a 3, and in many cases 4's and 5's. One final challenge I will put in front of you is to outperform last year's students. Here's the breakdown (out of the 60 students whose exam scores I have):

5 - 20%
4 - 43%
3 - 27%
2 - 8%
1 - 2%

To transfer this to the 105 students taking the exam this year, that means 21 5's, 45.15 4's, 28.35 3's, 8.4 2's, and 2.1 1's. Why don't we make it our goal to take the 10.5 students that should score below a 3, and spread them out among the 3's, 4's, and 5's? And I'm still working on figuring out how to get 15 hundreths of a student...I guess 15% of your test has to be a 4, 35% a 3, 40% a 2, and 10% a 1. I'll be accepting one student volunteer to have their test be this way, so that the numbers come out the way they are supposed to, nice and even.

See you tomorrow!

-Mr. C

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hypothesis Testing

So how is hypothesis testing like life? I'm going to provide an example that my dog, Lucy, would provide if she was explaining hypothesis testing to you.

In case you forgot who she was or what she looks like...

1. Determine the appropriate null and alternative hypothesis

Ho: The holes in the kitchen rug occurred naturally
Ha: It was me that chewed the kitchen rug...HA!!

2. Check conditions
  • Randomization - I will randomly select a spot on the rug
  • Independence - my decision to chew on this rug is independent of my decision to chew other rugs
  • Success / Failure - np, nq >= 10. I'm just a dog and I can't do that math. Mr. C's Stat students will always check this condition, as this tells them that the Normal model is appropriate.

3. Determine the likelihood of observing the sample proportion that we did through natural sampling variation

The probability that it was not me that chewed the rug is 0.5. We observed a sample probability of 0.99 that it was me that chewed on the rug (my parents caught me). The z-score for this sample proportion is 9.8, and the probability of observing that sample proportion or more (a one-tailed upper tail test) is 5.7 x 10^-23, which is essentially zero. My stat teacher owner helped me with the math here.

4. Interpret the p-value

The probability of observing a sample proportion of .99 or more is 5.7 x 10^-23. This is very unlikely to happen just by chance alone. That is, those pieces of rug missing are unlikely to happen naturally, somebody (ME) must have chewed on them when their owners weren't looking. We reject that the holes in the kitchen rug occurred naturally in favor of the fact that it was me, Lucy, that caused the holes in the kitchen rug.

There you go, time for bed!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Anatomy of a Makeup Test & Stimulus Package

So you were absent on test day...cue dramatic trombone (you know, wah wah)...for whatever reason: Sickness, family, local sports team championship parade, whatever. So what happens now? Do you get a grand reprieve of having to take the test later than everyone else?!?!?! Let's explore what happens when you are absent on test day (let's say test day was a Monday).

1. You come into school next day (Tuesday) and say "Hey Mr. C, when can I make up that test?"
2. Mr. C, automatically knowing your schedule from memory (like he does for all 112 of his students) says "How about during lunch?"
3. Your response, "Well, I am making up a Psych quiz then, and I have a chem lab to makeup during study hall, and it's a full moon, and I have band practice, then I work, then I have basketball, then I have fun time, so how about Friday?
4. After much debate and discussion of schedules, you get the great idea to make it up after school. Now the after school makeup is tricky.
  • Mr. C needs to bring YOUR test to the math planning center
  • He must also remember to bring your formula sheet
  • He must inform his colleagues that there is a test in his mailbox for this one exceptional student
  • Student takes test in a hallway - great testing environment
  • Student could conceivably take 85 minutes to take test
  • Mr. C checks his mailbox the next day, and puts your test into his makeups to grade

Now multiply this process by 10 students (that is how many missed last week's test). Is this not insanity? From a management standpoint, I got kids coming left and right to make up tests. Can we make everyone's life easier and just not be absent on test day?

Onto the stimulus package. Our current US president is now traveling the country to "sell" the stimulus package to different communities. Most view this as, "Hey, what a cool guy! He is so relatable. He's going to come around and tell us exactly what is in it, and how it's good for us." Didn't we elect this guy to act on our behalf? That is to say, does he NEED to sell it to us? He is our president, we have put our faith in him to act in the best interest of the country, why must he travel the nation to sell this to us? The fact that there is a feeling that it needs to be sold should raise some eyebrows from all citizens, not just the hardcore conservatives.

If anyone has an itemization of what is in this stimulus package, can you e-mail me where it can be found, or post it as a comment here? I have a cool activity we can do with it as a class. I'd like to break this thing down.

-Mr. C

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When the kid doesn't pass...make passing easier?

STOP!!!!! Read this article before continuing

So your student got a B+ in a rigorous, difficult, challenging environment. This is unacceptable because it is not an A?!?!?! So what's the solution... Fight fight fight and make it easier to get an A. I hope I am not the only one that sees something terribly wrong with this. Please consider the following situations as they relate to this article...

So apparently I have heard that there are too many people failing the PA Driver's License Exam. The solution is that those failing the test got together and fought PennDOT, successfully changing the driver's test requirements to: drive forward 100 ft, put the car in reverse, turn on the windshield wipers, successfully make a right-hand turn. Immediate ramifications are not known.

SAT's have come under fire because so many students are not meeting their college's SAT requirements. Let's get together and make the SAT an easier test. That way, more kids will get higher scores and be qualified to get into the colleges that they want.

The end result from both situations is an "inignoranted"(totally made that word up) population. Okay, so the driver's license one is a little far-fetched, but I'm not sure the SAT example is totally out of line here.

Rigor is what makes the best the best, the not-so best the not-so best, the average the average, and so on....Without rigor we have no means of determining who the best is, we just are certain that everybody can achieve the standard, and nobody has demonstrated greatness. These parents have defined "fairness" as "everyone gets a trophy/everyone gets an A". An A is exactly that, achieved by the best and brightest, some work really hard to arrive there, some do not need to. Not once in this article was it mentioned that parents encouraged their kids to get a little bit more to get that extra 2 percentage points to EARN the A.

It is often confusing about "Who deserves an A", and I think that definition is different between parent, teacher, and student. Parent and student share a similar kid works really hard so they deserve an A. In an odd counterexample, what if they work really hard and are learning the concept(s) the wrong way? Should these hard workers not be accountable for content knowledge? Teacher definition of an A is essentially the students that show high-level mastery of content. If that is debatable (that 89%), work-ethic is examined...the rationale of which is that if the student is a hard worker, they will eventually achieve high-level mastery.

In conclusion, I feel the need to address my grading practice. In my gradebook, pre-homework/project grade, there were about 10 kids that had an A average. This pre-homework/project grade is fairly indicative of your master of content. In terms of the AP Exam an A pre-HW would indicate a 5, B a 4, C a 3, D a 2, and F a 1. This is something not set in stone however, and with some preparation for the AP Exam through use of a review book(Barron's) can increase your exam score by 1 to 2. After homework and project, your grade reflects the amount of work that you have done, and the quality of product you have produced. This is minimally relevant to taking the AP test, but very necessary for your future development (college/career).

My job as an educator is not to give you an A, it is to prepare you for college. You need to be put through a high level of rigor so that when you get to college, you have been exposed to a rigorous courseload. If we are not rigorous in our teaching practice, we are not preparing you for college. Relaxing our standards would indicate that we are sending you to college less prepared.

Happy Snow Day,
Mr. C

Thursday, January 22, 2009


So I awoke this morning in awful health...I'll spare you the details. At about 6:45pm, I decided I would check the Wiki and see if anything had gone on today. To my absolute amazement, there were several updates to the Project pages by a number of groups, and I must say, they look awesome!!!!!!

What's really amamzing is the fact that I have not necessarily "demonstrated" any of the skills needed to create a page. A huge compliment to your ability to use a relatively new technology. You guys are awesome, and so are your experimental design projects!!! Keep up the good work.

<---Lucy says good job!!! Really, I am not a crazy dog person, I just wanted to add some multimedia feel and this was a great picture of the dog. Pretty sure she wanted something from me.

With regard to the Chapter 15 Quiz, grades are posted as of yesterday on HAC(Home Access Center). I intend to hand them back to you on Friday. Also on Friday we will discuss the "faux quiz", on Chapter 16. The intention there was to give you something that provided an alternate context to the standard dice rolling exercises we've been doing for homework. Your experimental design projects will be graded over the weekend and entered into HAC at that time. They are going to be on the 2nd marking period. Sadly, your grade on the project will appear as a zero until it is graded, so please be patient. Finally, on the subject of grades, your homework grade is factored in as of Friday as well. The intent of this paragraph was so that I do not spend class time discussing this. Anyone asking in class will be referred to the blog.

Wow, fairly serious post. Here are three great links to some talks given at "TED", a conference of the smartest people in the world sharing their ideas. If you have 20 minutes to spare, that's how long it will take to view one video. I suppose I should say that you should view at your own risk and if you are offended by any of the content found here, it is not required that you watch any of it, or all of it, or some of it. I am simply posting it because I think there are some stat students that would enjoy and find it enlightening.

Juries Fooled By Statistics

No More Boring Data

Do Schools Ruin Creativity

I think most videos can be found here as well (

-Mr. C

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Experimental Design Projects

Hey everybody! I wanted to touch base as far as submission of your Experimental Design projects and answer some general questions that you may have. You are just going to submit your writeup of your project including everything from the scoring rubric found on the Wiki. There will only be project presentations for those students that are doing the Experimental Design project for Graduation Project credit.

There will be three ways to submit your project...
1. Via the Wiki: you can type your writeup onto the wiki itself by editing your group page, or you may upload the document. For directions on how to do that, click here for a short video