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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 probability.

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