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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not very likely!

Today we started talking about probability. I asked the kids what this word sort of sounded like, and instead of "probably" -- the springboard I was hoping for -- they all said "problem." Yep, this is a problem.

Our exploration today did go pretty well though, once we gave up on certainty. The concept of something that is ALWAYS true or ALWAYS happens eluded them a bit. To them, going to bed at 9 o'clock is certain, and me being a teacher is certain. I asked them, "What if I decided tomorrow that I wanted to be a famous actor?" and one little girl immediately shot back, "You're not a famous actor!"

Certainly rude!

Then we moved on to the probability demonstration. I gave each group of partners a paper sack with 6 red cubes, 3 blue cubes, and 1 green cube in it. The kids took turns pulling a cube out without looking, and then making a mark on the tally chart. Each group did this 20 times. At the end, most of the groups had a higher amount of tallies in the red column, as would be expected.

When we did it a second time, though, the cheerleading came out. I heard someone say, "This time, I'm going for green!" and whenever a green came out, there was cheering. Or if I walked by, someone would tell me, Red and Blue are tied!!

It always starts to turn into a contest, with the kids rooting for one color to "win." Poor orange. He didn't have any supporters today.

Tomorrow we do spinners. When I told the kids that, they got excited, thinking I meant the stupid little paper contraband things they make and pass in class. When I brought them back down to earth by telling them I meant the circle with the arrow that you flick, they seemed disappointed.

Maybe we'll have to play Twister.

1 comment:

Michael Dunn said...

Yeh, I find the same thing with my students, even the 11th graders. They want to turn everything into a contest and sometime completely miss the point. On the other hand, they're having fun, and usually they do get the point (even if I have to explain it a few more times than I had planned).