Archive for April, 2011

Sweet Probability

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that our kids tend to be low in Graphing, Probability and Statistics? I’ve been doing lots of hands on activities to help my students really understand probability and statistics, here are a couple of the ones that the kids really liked:

Probability Spinner:

I got this idea from, this is a great website  for 3rd-5th grade math practice. Find the spinner activity here. This is what we did:

We discussed the probability of spinning each color, something we have done lots of times. Red is 4 out of 8, or 4:8, or 4/8, green is 1 out of 8 and so on… They get that, but they don’t “get” what it means. So, we did an experiment. I give the kids spinners and they used a paperclip to see how our probabilities matched up.

The kids worked in partners and spun 32 times, keeping tally of what color the paper clip landed on. They they determined what the actual probability of spinning each color. We compared their outcomes to our original probability and students were able to see that it was pretty close to what we had predicted. By the end of this activity they really “got” that probability is not just a random number that means nothing, it is actually predicting what would happen.

Candy Probability

Another fun activity to learn about probability is the probability of getting the different colors M&Ms. I think they might have liked this one better, mostly because I gave them a cupful of M&Ms 🙂

Here is the record sheet I made for this activity:

Candy Probability:

Here is what we did:

I gave each student a Dixie cup full of M&Ms (I used to buy the mini bags of MMs, but now I just buy the big bag and use mini cups…way cheaper!) They separated them into colors and counted them.

Then we determined the probabilities and created graphs of the different colors.

You can see this child chose a scale that was too big for his was really interesting to see them try to figure it out.

There was lots of learning happening here with probability and graphing. The kids had to reduce their fractions and compare the probabilities. They also had a choose a scale for their graph that worked for the number of M&Ms they had. Hands-on, minds-on!

There you have it! Two hands-on activities that will help kids understand probability and statistics…and give you a little snack (great for a Friday afternoon 🙂


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Share it Forward: Teachers I Admire

This week for Share it Forward I’m going to pass along some of the blogs and websites of teachers I admire!

1. Beth Newingham:

Have you checked out Beth’s blog lately?! Wow. This teacher inspires me and makes me want to keep working and blogging…maybe someday I’ll have resources and experiences that will be worth sharing 🙂 I love that this year she is posting a Top Ten list each month, and she is clearly not just throwing these lists together! Each one is full of links, ideas, resources and other materials that make this nerdy teacher green with envy.

You also should NOT overlook her website: How does she have time for all of this?! Love it.

2. Angela Bunyi:

Angela’s classroom library and resources are amazing. Her blog is FULL of ideas for reading and writing workshop and she tells it like it is, something that I really appreciate! Seriously, her blog is worth reading and go back into her archives, all her ideas are relevant and awesome.

3. Two Writing Teachers:

This has been an invaluable blog as I’ve started using Writing Workshop in my classroom this year…or at least my version of Writing Workshop. These two exceptional writing teachers share ideas and stories from the trenches of teaching writing as well as encouraging teachers to be writing themselves! You must check out their tabs at the top with quotes and tools. This blog is worth adding to your reader!

When I was writing this post I also discovered that The Two Writing Teachers have a website! (I usually read them from my reader, so sometimes I miss things!) This will be a new go-to resource for me! Everything is so organized and user friendly!

So there you have it, three blogs that I read on a regular basis and scour for ideas! There are about 60 other blogs that Google Reader brings me, but those can wait for another day 🙂

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Confession: This year is the first year I’ve given out my personal cell number to parents. I don’t know why I thought that if I gave out my number people would abuse it. Did I think I would have parents calling me in the middle of the night? Silly, right? The reality is giving the parents a line of communication outside of school hours has been great! Many parents work until 6 or 7, and by that time they can’t contact me at school. Also, I’ve had texts from parents who I had never had contact from before; they feel much more comfortable sending a text than actually calling me.

And it has also been rather humorous…

Text from a mom: Miss O,  Jack says he only has to do his Novel Project if he wants to…

Call from a Grandmother: Miss O, I keep trying to show Lindsey how to do two digit multiplication but she insists that I’m not doing it “Miss O’s way”…can you please help us?!

And then of course, some most of my students have cell phones, and a few have gotten a hold of my number…

Student Text over Spring Break: Miss O, I am car sick!

I also have a student who texts me her spelling words every Friday!

This was by far the most creative! This student did not want to finish her homework, so she sent me the Pink song “Pretty, pretty please!” (The CLEAN version!!)

So, yeah, I get a few random texts telling me about being car sick and pictures of new puppies, but it doesn’t bother me a bit! I really like the connection between home and school, and I always get a good laugh at my kids’ texts!

Teachers: Do you give out your personal numbers? How do you stay in touch with parents?

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The weekened ate my homework…

Confession: I have a stack of grading 6, 7, 8, 9 inches high that has been collecting in my “To be Graded” bin…and I didn’t even look at it this weekend!

I had a paper for my master’s project, grading, planning and blogging to do this weekend, but it was 90 degrees, sunny and breezy. The patio was calling my name…and I answered! So, the grading is not graded, the blogging is not blogged, the planning is not planned, and the paper is not…papered (eh, it almost worked). I guess you could say that the weekend ate my homework.

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April Fools!

I wanted to share this April Fools joke that I just played on my 4th graders…

I copied this word find and gave it to them as bell work. I told them since it was Friday I wanted to give them something fun. I also told them whoever got all the words first would get to pick from the treasure box. They all began furiously working…but unbenknowst to them, none of the words on the list were in the word find. Except, of course, the word: APRIL FOOLS.

When they began to get frustrated I told them to “Look harder.” or “Concentrate.” I even had a student say, “Miss, I can only find the word ‘FOOL'” Bahahaha. My co teacher (who was doing the same activity) stopped in to drop something off, and when she heard my kids having trouble said, “I don’t know what the problem is, my class is already done with theirs!” LOL.

Finally, before they reached a breaking point, I told them I would give them a hint and helped them find the “A” in April Fools… they loved it and they are all bringing them home to dupe their families and friends 🙂

Find the trick puzzles here:

Or download the one I used here: April Fools Puzzle

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