“Statastic” service learning

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Recently, Mr. John Souris’s third block Probability and Statistics class decided to do something different. Venturing outdoors and walking up Milburn, the class arrived at Oakville Elementary School (OES) bearing supplies and preparing to teach Mrs. Sollberger’s fifth grade class on April 25 and April 27.

“I personally met with Mrs. Kellerman (OHS head principal) first to discuss service learning for seniors by teaching probability and statistics at OES, then via email I contacted OES principal Mr. Dickemper, who gave me Mrs. Sollberger as the contact. Once Mrs. Sollberger and I were able to coordinate the dates, the seniors took it from there,” Souris said.

Souris’ third block drafted lesson plans for months before teaching days. There were four groups of 4-5 people, each planning their own individual lessons. Each lesson was designed to meet Missouri Learning Standard objectives for fifth graders, including creating line graphs and bar graphs, understanding mean, median, and mode, and learning other statistical functions.

“(The hardest challenge) was getting ideas together because it’s hard to teach such an advanced skill to fifth graders,” Joe Allen (12) said. “It was kind of hard just to get our ideas to where they could understand them and easy enough for us to teach them correctly.”

The students seemed excited to see the high schoolers enter the classroom and were open to learning from the seniors. “(The) kids were really energetic and ready to learn- excited, I guess, knowing that they had older peers coming in to teach them, to learn things that they will be learning later in life,” Brianna Bryan (12) said.

After spending an hour each day playing games and completing activities, everyone had learned something new- fifth graders and high schoolers alike. Souris said that elementary schoolers learned about data gathering, measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode), creating bar graphs, simple probability, and that math can be fun. He continued, stating that high schoolers learned how to take charge and present information, how to lead others, how to take on responsibility, how to work to together, and of course helping others. Bryan added that she also learned that fifth graders are crazy.

The trip was an overall success, as Souris is already planning for next year, depending on next year’s students and available dates. “I would like to perhaps go more than just twice,” Souris said. “I would like to help the seniors utilize some of the teaching manipulative and resources that are at the elementary school (and) lead the seniors to create other hands-on or experimental projects. I was also thinking… (that) when the fifth graders are learning ratios (fractions)… the seniors could go and connect fractions with probability.”

Sollberger summed up the day, stating, “The overall experience was very memorable for my fifth graders. The activities/lessons planned by the high school students were fun, engaging, and meaningful. Not to mention, they (the fifth graders) loved getting to eat the candy once the lessons were complete!”