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From: Mark <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2008072013:32:47 Subject: Make it Fun! I teach a unit on probability to 5th graders who are in a 6th grade math program called Connected Math. by the time we get to this unit, they have a fairly good understanding of fractions, decimals, and percentages. Our initial lesson comes with a story scenario about a boy who wants to eat a chocolate sugar coated cereal every morning vs his mother who wants him to eat "Health Nut Flakes." He bets his mother that if they flip a coin and it comes up heads, he gets what he wants. If it comes up tails, he will eat the healthy cereal. They decide to do this for thirty days and use a June calendar to record who gets what they want each day. As student flip the coin they record H or T on the calendar. Below the calendar there is a place that notes the day number and below that is a box where the student records a cumulative # for only heads and below that the percentage acheived thus far. For instance if after three days of coin flipping 2 heads have been attained under day three you record the fraction 2/3 (two out of three)and below that convert it into a decimal # (0.666) and then below that a percentage 67%. If you are working with a class, before you begin, you can ask each pair of pupils to predict how many times out of thrity head will appear. Many will say 15, and ask why. Hopefully, you hear because there are only two sides of a fair coin, and half of 30 is 15. Also, consciously use the key probability term equally likely. When all pairs of pupils are done collecting data, post all the final percentages. The majority of percentages often winds up within a 10 - 15& ranage + or - of 50%. If you do the data collection on an overhead with a line graph it makes an excellent visual presentation. In the past few years, I have followed this up with using the Deal or No Deal TV game show to show them how the probability is stacked in favor of the show, and how anyone who reaches $100,000 should take the money run. Also, I let the kids make spinners using a cardstock template, brass paper fastener, and a paper clip. Some spinners have equal sized sections, but more than one of these sections may be labeled with a specific picture/icon or number. Have them determine the probability, predict and test it. Another fun one is using a brown paper bag, three different colored disks or cubes, have a different number of each color in the bag, and ask the kids to predict what color they will pull not knowing the number of each. Do this numerous times and record all outcomes. Then ask them to predict which color has the most, and least, and in between. Then tell them the number of each color vs the total number. Now they can create the odds (fraction- out of and the percentage)or probability. If you can get a hold of a carnival or real roulette wheel you can take it one step further in making a real world connection. Good luck & have fun.
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