Saturday, 21 March 2015

Understanding the Probability Continuum

Big Idea:  The chance that a future event will happen can be characterized along a probability continuum of impossible to certain.

Developing the Big Idea:  Children will develop the big idea of probabilty if they explore it naturally instead of “memorizing” formal rules and definitions.  Developing the big idea can be taught as a link between a traffic light and the chances of something occurring. 

Exploring the Big Idea:  Using event cards, students are asked to decide where they would go along the continuum.  A red light signals a driver to absolutely “stop.”  In this case, we change stop to impossible.  When a yellow light flashes, a driver should slow down but in some cases, a driver speeds up and goes through the light.  It is “equally likely” that the light could mean slow down or move along for some drivers.  A green light signals “go” or in this case, “certain”.   

Ways to Explore the Big Idea:  Keep a file of event cards on display as part of your opening exercises.  Have the student of the day choose a card and place it on the continuum.  Another idea is to have the students place a traffic light at a math station and place cards at the proper light.     

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