What are Estimation Stations?
Estimation Stations are 10-minute activities for teachers to use to build number sense, promote statistical literacy, and foster purposeful student discourse about estimations in the elementary, middle, and high school classroom. These activities can be an ongoing, weekly instructional routine that teachers can use to invite students to have meaningful and purposeful conversations about their reasoning and work together to refine their accuracy as estimators (individually and as a class).
Why did we create Estimation Stations?
In the K-5 grade band, “read and interpret data” is never a major focus of the coursework. In the 6-8 grade band, the statistics standards are never a major focus. As a result, this content is often compressed at the end of the textbook in an isolated (and often stale) unit of lessons. Students are at risk of reaching high school without having a fundamental grasp of some of the most basic concepts about interpreting graphs and making meaning of the measures of center and spread in a data set. (You can read more in these “Making Stats Matter More” posts here and here.)
We want to offer something better, something that makes talking about data an inviting and meaningful process for students (and their teachers)! We want to build statistical fluency slowly throughout the year, and we want students to be vested in improving their accuracy by refining their ability to make arguments and listen to the arguments and conjectures of others.
Basically, we want our students to love and appreciate the world of data and statistics as much as we do. This is our attempt.
How do Estimation Stations work?
Built in Desmos, the activities begin by asking students to make an estimate using an Estimation180 image. These individual estimates are then displayed on a class number line. Measures of center and spread can be discussed as well as any potential outliers. After analyzing their estimate and that of their classmates, students have a brief conversation (in pairs/groups/whole class) about their “class estimate.” Students are encouraged to make claims, arguments, and counter-arguments in an effort to improve the accuracy of their “class estimate.”
After discussion, students are invited to re-enter an estimate. The can re-enter their previous estimate or revise it based on anything convincing they heard or saw. On the following slide, the students see how the discussion has influenced their collective answers. The data comes alive and moves! New measures of center and spread can be discussed and students can see how sharing their thinking can improve precision in their answers. Teachers can track classroom accuracy and capture examples of how this activity promotes sense-making and improves students’ ability to make and critique arguments.
Start teaching with Estimation Stations
We are in the beta phase. Our goal is to make over 50 of these activities, but we’re starting with six. Why? Because we need your help making them better. Try them out in your classroom. What works? What could be improved? What could be added or taken away? We are open to feedback.
We ask that you read through the Teacher Tips to find questions and moves to facilitate student thinking and discourse in the classroom. We believe that you, the teacher, are the key to making these activities a successful learning tool.
Please share your thinking on Twitter using the #EstimationStation hashtag and tagging Chase Orton (@mathgeek76) and Madison Sandig (@madisonsandig4). Or you can send Chase an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give it go! Let us know! Here are the links to the Desmos activities: