15 January 2010

Using Perudo to Explore Probability

After playing the dice game Perudo at a friend's house several NYE's ago, I've been trying to find a way to work the game into a classroom setting to explore and practice everyday application of simple probabilities.

Summer school is usually a good setting for these types of explorations also, but I just never got around to it in there.

Finally this year in my 6th responsibility I have a class of 9th graders with the only guidelines for the class being to provide a structure and support system for these at-risk students. In addition to enforcing organization and study skills from last semester this semester my team of core area teachers are also each taking a day a week as enrichment for our area. Here's a link to today's (and perhaps next week's) activity. Paraphrase of rules courtesy of this ehow page.

I'll report later how it goes.
Day One:
The intention today was to go through the rules, have the two groups play through once, and then reflect on the discussion questions.  We got started a little later than I thought we would, so we only had time for both groups to play through once.

Here are my thoughts:

  • This really started out as an idea the morning of before I left my home because I wasn't feeling 100% ready to successfully begin a podcast/mathematician research project I've been gathering materials for.  Because of that, my fellow core teachers in the class had no prior warning and I don't think I was able to use them as successfully as I could have.
  • Having the rules as a handout for the students to look at individually was very helpful as we walked through a practice round.  
  • Having experience myself playing the game was also helpful - I'm not sure how much - but it helped me coach the students through game-play and secretly leading them to the exploration I had in mind.
  • Because two students were absent, the numbers worked out that a teacher was able to play along with each using the sets of dice I had.  This helped in monitoring on-task behavior, in coaching through game-play, and I'm sure in facilitating the discussion for part two.
  • My only regret is that because I had not met w/ my teachers before the lesson to share my intentions, the 2nd group was given an intro to the probabilities behind decision making in the game as they played along.  Perhaps this was actually a better way to immerse the learning into the game, but my concern is that it will affect the true discovery moment I was envisioning.
Future planning:
  • Since we didn't get to the reflection questions, they are delayed until next Friday when it is math day again.  Reflecting the next day would have been okay, but I'm afraid some insightful nuggets will be lost throughout the coming week.
  • Fred coaching the other group on probabilities could end up being to our advantage, however, because that group now has prior knowledge to contribute to the discussion once we get to that this next lesson.
  • When we play next time I want the kids to be very mindful of the probabilities behind the game and using them to make good decisions based on the number of dice in play, but I have two options for accomplishing that:  (1) Have the students create their own probability charts to reference while playing, or (2) Distribute a chart I found online and teach them how to use it.  This option would take less time, I think, but I don't know if that really matters.
DAY ONE Conclusion:
Overall, I was very pleased with how my admittedly under-planned lesson turned out.  The kids really enjoyed the game and were engaged the whole period; even once they had lost all of their dice.  I think this was a great intro to probabilities.  My only foreseeable problem for future math days is this: How do I follow this up with the next game exploration?

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Thanks for sharing!