Seventh and Eighth Grade Math
Permutations, Combinations, and Factorials

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Our school works with both 7th and 8th grade math. Statistics and Probability are areas that should have been covered by the Second Marking Period. However, I know that though most of us touch on this during the 2nd Period, but it isn't until the 3rd Marking Period that we commence our more serious bouts with this area. By the 3rd Marking Period (just having gotten through the tediousness of clarifying all functions with decimals, percents, exponents, integers, etc., we must thrust our children into the nebulousness of Statistics and Probability.

Amidst the speculation and theoretizing inherent in the aforementioned subject matter, let's add the element of specific vocabulary and the nuances of language (especially confusing given the circumstances of a bilingual class). And how about Special Education and Resource Room students? This is happening with Statistics and Probability at the same time as we have begun to battle "open-ended" questions in math in preparation for our EWT's and the CAT.

In our quickly changing society, it is only natural that we should expect our real-life math to encompass an ever-growing measure of specualtive or theoretical postures. YET . . .

A lot of time goes into just playing games that will clarify the concepts of possible/favorable outcomes, independent/dependent events ... but when we get to permutations/combinations and the utilization of factorials, there is just not enough time in the class to satisfactorily review and clarify our maneuvers for the student to be satisfactorily enlightened. The activities in our texts that purport to set procedure or set example of problems concerning permutations and combinations do no more than have you speculate with groupwork. THEY DO NOT LAY DOWN SUFFICIENT GRAPHIC SAMPLING OR PROGRESSION to satisfy, confirm or clarify a supposedly logical or reasonable process which THEY HAVE FAILED TO DELINEATE CLEARLY IN THE TEXT.

I feel a need for graphic expression of these concepts either via video or computer simulation. I am also in need of print material that satisfactorily documents, in both written and graphic fashion, the concepts and procedures that are needed to solve problems in the area of statistics and probability.

Thank you!

Anna Ramos-Borrero


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27 January 1997