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Technology Tools for Thinking and Reasoning about Probability
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Face-to-face Workshops
  Houston Feb 4, 2006
  Philly April 18-20, 2006
  Summer June 26-29, 2006
  Houston June 27-28, 2007
  Philly June 21-22, 2007
  Institute July 25-27, 2007   Institute July 29 - Aug 2, 2008

Project Research Articles
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Technology Tools for Thinking and Reasoning about Probability
Five Dimensions: Mathematics, Technology, Teaching, Learning, and Assessing

In this workshop we will investigate some mathematics topics common to middle school curricula within the theme of probability. In this context we will explore the Math Tools digital library and several software tools that contribute in some way to mathematical understanding, problem solving, reflection and discussion.

In Navigating through Probability in Grades 6-8, the authors note

... the Data Analysis and Probability Standards in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM 2000) is an affirmation of a fundamental goal of the mathematics curriculum: to develop critical thinking and sound judgement based on data. These skills are essential not only for a select few, but for every informed citizen and consumer. Staggering amounts of information confront us in almost every aspect of contemporary life, and being able to ask good questions, use data wisely, evaluate claims that are based in the data, and formulate defensible conclusions in the face of uncertainty have become basic skills in our information age.

In this workshop, we will:

  • consider your initial thoughts and understandings about probability, how they are addressed in the middle school curriculum, and how that relates to the development of more advanced understandings of probability.
  • think together about how students can develop their understanding of probability and overcome the key hurdles or difficult transitions in moving from informal counting and data analysis to more formal mathematical analysis.
  • investigate how online tools can help.

There will be opportunities to share why you were drawn to a workshop with this focus, and what you would like to accomplish as we work together. Certainly there is more to discuss about probability than we can cover in this workshop. Above all else, we want to share a community and resources that support us as professionals in our ongoing efforts to improve our teaching and make use of new tools.

Notice the NCTM Data Analysis and Probability Standard for Grades 6-8 (opens in new browser window). Is there anything there that surprises or confuses you? Aren't these quite common topics in middle school classrooms? And yet for many of us, representing the listed topics as probability (or even part of the middle school curiculum) may be something very new.

Note: The NCTM Standards combine probability with data analysis. We recognize that the two are intimately related, but will focus the majority of our emphasis in this workshop on probability.

You will have flexibility within each week but the design of the workshop and the value for all of the participants depends on beginning and completing the activities during the assigned week and the full workshop within six weeks.

Each unit will contain

  • a mathematics focus
  • software tools that contribute in some way to mathematical understanding
  • problem solving
  • reflection
  • discussion

To gain the most from the activities, we are encouraging reflection along five dimensions: mathematics, technology, teaching, learning, and assessment. We look forward to your contributions to the workshop's discussions as you consider each.

Our approach is to

  • value everyone's contributions as we all share our explorations and wonderings.
  • ask and answer questions of ourselves and others.
  • think of how this can transfer to our classrooms.

Sincerely,
Amirah, Craig, Cynthia, Gemela, Kathy, Lynne, Michelle, Seth, Wanda, Jason, and Suzanne

© 2014 The Math Forum @ Drexel, part of NSF's NSDL
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DUE-0226284. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.