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What Are My Chances? Exploring Probability with Virtual Tools

To be literate in the 21st Century requires more than reading, writing and basic math. Handling the amount of information that we encounter each day necessitates going beyond the 3 R’s. Our students need to be prepared for accessing, processing and communicating information. To help them understand the meaning of the calculations they perform in acquiring math skills, we need to add probability and statistical thinking to the formula for being literate. Being mathematically literate, or having a sense of “numeracy,” requires a precise understanding of mathematical terms, experiences of data based-decision making, and, ultimately, a realization that there are many uncertainties in our complex world.

I am the computer teacher at Overbrook Elementary School. My assignments include supporting the curriculum with technology and working with students on projects to enhance their technological skills. This ten-day curriculum unit is designed for fourth and fifth grade students designed to enhance the portion of the School District of Philadelphia’s math curriculum dealing with probability. The lesson plans can be used as a two-week unit or spread out over a longer period of time. The activities include opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of basic probability concepts presented in their classrooms with the added benefit of the tools of technology. This unit focuses on using interactive tools and online resources to demonstrate concepts, develop precise vocabulary, play games of risk, design a game, evaluate their understanding, and create a cumulating project.

Rita Sorrentino
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