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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: John V. Pitta

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002041809:37:08
Subject: Teaching probability at the middle school level

I am a second year 7th grade math teacher in a large urban school
district for Milwaukee Public Schools using the Connected Mathematics
curriculum(CMP). Probability deals with situations that have uncertain
outcomes on individual trials, but develop some predictable patterns
after more and more trials. I feel that it is important for students
to know the difference between experimental and theoretical
probability. They must be exposed to multiple opportunities where they
can explore and discover that several outcomes may occur, but the
probabilities will affect the outcomes more as more trials are done.
They also need to explore different terminology about probability such
as impossible, very unlikely, unlikely, maybe, likely, very likely and
certain. Once students begin to understand that certain outcomes may
be possible, but they are less likely than other outcomes than they
may be able to transfer these skills to real life situations that have
an impact on their lives. The spiraling CMP curriculum provides many
opportunities for students to explore and discover issues dealing with

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