This school year, I’m teaching AP Statistics at my school here in Chengdu, China. I always enjoyed statistics and in the last few years I have gotten into R programming. So this year I was faced with the challenge of picking a calculator for my AP Stat class and also my IB math class and wondering if I should incorporate R. I read some good things about the TI nspire so I did some research and decided to go with the nspire. The students can use the nspire CX for testing in both AP Stat and IB Math.
I also want to teach my students some basics of the R programming language because I feel it’s important for them to know that the outside world uses statistical tools like R and SAS. R has a learning curve but in the context of AP Statistics, there are topics that R would help them to understand.
My goal this year is for the students to be proficient in the use of their TI nspire and also to know some basics of the R language. For descriptive statistics, we can use the Lattice package and ggplot2 to explore how to convey information in the best possible way. We will start with R’s base graphics package and move into ggplot2’s syntax to create histograms, boxplots, and scatterplots.
Last year I had some success using R in my Precalculus class when we evaluated large matrices. We used R to find the transpose and inverse of large matrices and to export the results using knitr. The students enjoyed working with R to solve some challenging problems and it also gave them time to play with different packages and explore manipulating data with the code. By the end of last year, they were good at analyzing large matrices and doing independent study on different techniques to optimize their code.
I have my work cut out for me this year. I want to find that middle ground where my students not only learn the basics of descriptive and inferential statistics using the TI nspire, but to also explore the R programming language and tap into the wealth of knowledge in just about any area of interest they may have.
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