This week’s math learning presentations focused on Data Management and Probability. We started by exploring experimental probability, then looked at theoretical probability and finished with a lesson on data collection. For the data collection, we were introduced to appropriate question construction. Questions should be clear and have discrete categories. We were asked to make our own questions and choose a fun way to collect data. My group chose the question, “Whose coffee do you prefer?” and gave 4 discrete options: McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup. Counters were placed in cups as a method to collect the data. The picture below is an example of this method we used.
After the lesson we explored several other probability resources. This included a “Horse Races” probability game. Students will use a chart to keep track of horses numbered 2-12. When you roll the dice (2) and land on a number, you move the corresponding numbered horse forward one space. The first horse to the finish line is the winner. Student’s can place bets on the horses they think will win. After the first round, it is imperative the educator stops the game and asks questions about theoretical probability. Students should note the numbers that have a higher chance of being rolled. An example of a lesson plan that uses this game can be found HERE, and bonus, it actually includes an online version of the game you can play!
For grades 4-6, OntarioMathResources.ca features a small but useful curation of data management and probability resources to help teachers get started with their lessons. Take a look.
For grades 7-8 , the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service has other probability and data management lesson plans and activities. It is definitely worth it to check it out.
Lastly, many of our presenters touched on the language of probability. When studying and teaching probability it is really important to be consistent with your language use and to clarify the meaning of the language to the students. The probability line, from mathisfun.com, is a great visual to explain the probability language on a scale of 0 to 1. I highly suggest showing some form of this visual with your class or working together to co-create something similar.
I really enjoyed exploring some of the probability resources. I think this is an area of math that is fun and exciting, especially theoretical probability. One of the presenters talked about the misconceptions surrounding the independent and dependent events. I think this is one area of probability that I should become very familiar with before I start teaching because it will elicit many questions from the students.
I was talking to some teachers in Ontario, and many expressed that probability is usually left to the end of the year and sometimes gets overlooked due to time constraints. I think that as a teacher in the Ontario context, I need to be aware of this phenomenon and try my best to make data management and probability as important as the other strands in the math curriculum. As a kinesiology graduate, statistics and statistical significance were important concepts that underlined almost every single peer-reviewed study. I hope that I can pass on my knowledge of probability and significance with interesting and relatable material and context for students.