At TheStatsMedic.com, we have created an Activity to be used for every lesson in the SPA book. The Activities are generally used to introduce new statistical concepts and ideas rather than as an application of what students have already learned. They are designed for students to work in small groups, as we want students talking about statistics. Many of the activities require students to use technology (laptop, iPad, or smart phone).
So here is the structure of a typical lesson in our classroom.
Students are introduced to the context and question of the day. We might start with a discussion about a topic, tell a story, or ask students for their input on an idea. We are trying to make our students curious about the statistical question of the day. We strive to create authentic contexts where a statistical question might arise, rather than a contrived context created to fit the learning goals.
Students are collecting data, analyzing data, or discovering new statistical concepts and ideas. They are working in small groups and discussing ideas as they work through the Activity. We are listening and guiding students toward the intended learning. We want students to have some struggle in this process, but we are always there to help move them forward using the appropriate prompting, questioning, or cueing.
At the end of the Activity, we bring the group back together for some discussion. Students will often share their learning out loud to the whole group. We are careful to make sure that the discussion addresses the learning targets of the lesson. When appropriate, we use direct instruction to fill in any gaps or misconceptions that are noticed during the Explore phase or during the discussion.
In the SPA textbook, every lesson ends with an Application problem. Most of the Application problems cover all of the learning targets from the lesson. The Application is an excellent formative assessment at the end of a lesson (or the next day as a warm-up) so that the teacher can see if students can apply their learning to a new context. We sometimes have students work in pairs and sometimes individually depending on how much support we think they might need.
Dan Meyer — Curiosity in the Classroom
Check out Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Better Learning Through Structure Teaching to find out more about Productive Group Work and Guided Instruction.