Education > K-12 Education > Workshops for K-12 Statistics Teachers
Organizing an ASA Teacher Workshop
The American Statistical Association is involved with six teacher workshop programs for teachers:
- Elementary Quantitative Literacy (EQL)
- Middle School Quantitative Literacy (MSQL)
- High School Quantitative Literacy (HSQL)
- Advanced Placement Statistics
- Beyond Advanced Placement Statistics
- Science Education and Quantitative Literacy (SEAQL)
What follows is a description of how to set up an HSQL workshop; however, the organizational steps would be about the same for any of the workshops. There is variation on who carries out these steps, but there is typically a local coordinator who recruits the participants, arranges facilities for the workshop, collects registration fees (if applicable), copies teaching materials, and arranges accommodations for visiting presenters (if needed). The ASA arranges for experienced workshop instructors, works with publishers to supply materials at reduced cost, helps with writing announcements, and serves as a sounding board for ideas and advice.
One-Week Workshop Plan
Most workshops involve about 40 hours of instruction, scheduled as one-week sessions during the summer. The first four days involve an intense schedule of activities, with the final day set aside for group project presentations. Statistical concepts are presented through demonstrations, hands-on activities, and short lecture-style presentations.
Group projects form a capstone activity for the quantitative literacy (QL) material and provide an opportunity for participants to formulate hypotheses, collect data, analyze data using statistics routines on a graphing calculator and computer, and communicate conclusions in both written and oral form to the group of participants.
To make systemic changes in the classroom, administrators must be involved. Therefore, one day of the workshop is set aside for administrators to attend a brief QL orientation conducted by one of the workshop presenters and to join the teachers in some of the workshop activities.
Local statisticians invited to join the class for a day interact with participants, critique and offer suggestions related to the projects, and share the real world of statistics with classroom teachers.
These statisticians form a support group within the specific geographic region of the workshop and can become a continuing source of information for teachers and students as the lessons of the workshop are adapted for regular classroom use.
A condition for registration is a teaching assignment during the fall following the workshop that permits using the material in the classroom. During the spring, a follow-up session is scheduled for teachers to report on their classroom experiences. It is a show-and-tell and discussion session and an essential component of the workshop that provides a means of reinforcing the workshop content and methodology. It also offers teachers an opportunity to discuss their fall experience, design new lesson plans, plan field trips to industry, discuss student projects, and expand the QL materials.
When selecting participants, it is standard to encourage teachers having significant contact with minority students to apply. The QL material addresses the issue of minorities and women in "nontraditional" occupations.
The goal is teaching teams with roughly 1:10 instructor-to-participant ratios and one local statistician per team. The team of instructors (presenters) should include at least one statistician who can attend the entire workshop. The remaining instructors are classroom teachers at the appropriate grade level who are seasoned, enthusiastic users of the QL materials and ideas and who have significant QL workshop experience. Most will have attended a Master QL workshop, scheduled periodically by the ASA Center for Statistics Education.
Continuing Education Credit
Usually, credit for the workshop is arranged through a local college. Credits vary, but one scenario allows participants to earn one credit upon completion of the summer workshop and an additional credit upon attending and reporting on their fall experience at the follow-up session. Some credits are "professional development credits" and often carry the restriction that universities may not allow them to count toward a degree.
A viable workshop should have a minimum of 20 participants and a maximum of 40. The cost is about $1,500 per instructor, plus transportation and room and board. The cost for books and materials is about $100-$150 per participant. So, the cost for a 20-participant workshop includes about $3,000, plus travel fees ($1,000), room and board ($1,000), materials ($2,000), and copying ($200), for an estimated total of $7,200.
Each school district generally has a budget for the professional development of teachers, and such funds are the main source of funding for QL workshops. Sometimes, districts will pool their efforts and put on a common workshop. Another possibility is to open registration to participants throughout the region and charge a registration fee. Depending on costs, registration fees are generally in the $350 to $450 range for each participant. Individual teachers often are able to get their districts to pick up the fees or a portion thereof.
Another common funding source is Eisenhower funds. These are higher-education funds administered by each state and almost invariably allocated through competitive grants. (Proposals are usually due each fall.) The higher education institutions are sent "calls for proposals," but if not available, the ASA office has a directory of state Eisenhower coordinators. The coordinator can provide information about higher education funding, the state's requirements, and the best contacts to make among local teachers and supervisors.
Some workshop coordinators have been successful in obtaining seed grants from local corporations. A seed grant of $5,000 helps considerably to reduce registration fees, give incentive scholarships, or serve as a cushion against unexpected expenses.
Organizers also should contact the president of their state's Council of Teachers of Mathematics for advice and the names of math teachers or math curriculum supervisors who can help coordinate the effort. They likely have a newsletter for announcements about pending workshops.
Participants with special interest in QL-both teachers and statisticians-are encouraged to attend one of the Master QL workshops. Those who complete a Master QL workshop are qualified to lead subsequent local workshops organized through the Center for Statistics Education. QL workshop leaders have found this to be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.
Staff members of the Center for Statistics Education at ASA will be happy to discuss your workshop ideas to see how your particular needs may be addressed. Please contact Rebecca Nichols at (703) 684-1221 or send a written request to:
Center for Statistics Education
American Statistical Association
732 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1943