Years ago when I had the pleasure of serving as a “math coach” in the Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania, I learned a clever way to expose students to independent events. A colleague of mine provided his students with lined paper, asked them to number from 1 to… 10 maybe? and told students they were being given a pop quiz!
Then, the teacher began verbally providing students with the “quiz questions”…
Teacher: “Number 1… TRUE or FALSE?”
Teacher: “Number 2… TRUE… or FALSE?”
Students: “…TRUE or FALSE what? What do you mean?”
Teacher: “Number 3… TRUE… or……. FALSE?”
Students: “WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK.”
Eventually, students would giggle and play along, realizing, literally, they were simply being asked to make the choice… do you choose TRUE or FALSE?
After the verbal “quiz” was over, it was time for students to “grade” their own papers… against an arbitrary answer key that had been previously created by the teacher. After students scored these so-called quizzes, the teacher would ask if anyone got a “perfect paper”. Literally no one did. But, it was a wonderfully silly segue to consider probability… what’s the probability a student could earn a “perfect paper” on this arbitrary quiz? (and subsequently… NO WONDER NO ONE ACED IT!)
I thought it would be fun to spend 10-15 minutes giving my Math 7 students a similar scenario today, our first day back from break, but I added a few twists. Rather than create that moment of what-the-actual-heck, I opted to tell students outright that I had created a TRUE or FALSE quiz with my own fake answer key… and their job was to guess what answer I chose for each of 5 questions. I didn’t want students to get distracted in silliness at the start – I wanted to challenge them to essentially attempt to read my mind. They were on it.
Me: “Number 1… TRUE or FALSE?”
Me: Number 2… TRUE or FALSE?”… and so on.
Students made their choices in Socrative on their iPads. I didn’t reveal the “correct” answer to any questions along the way… I just paced it to give a sense of don’t-dilly-dally… make a gut-instinct choice and let’s move on…
They were quite anxious to find out how they “did” on this “quiz” ! Before I revealed the class results, we worked through the probability of getting a “perfect paper” on the board… 1/32… would *anyone* ace this thing?
Student: “That’s only, like, 3% or so… that’s not very good!”
Now… the reveal! Here’s a portion of our results! Surprise! NO ONE “ACED” IT!
Someone actually earned a ZERO!
What happened next, I did not expect.
Students: Let’s do it again! I want to do another one!
So they asked for another chance… AND… they asked me to make it only FOUR questions this time… how cool is that?
We established the probability going into Round 2 ahead of time… kids still expressed concern that 1/16 was close to only 6%-ish… but they had hope!
On the spot, I created a brand new 4-question TRUE or FALSE quiz in Socrative, and launched it as a student-paced activity so they could just zip through it… after all… we only had literally 4 minutes of class left…! No time for drama, just give me the data!
The reveal… WHOA!!!! Only one student aced it, but you’d think someone won the lottery with the way the class, and particularly that student… erupted!
The bell rang, the first school day of 2020 came to a close, and though that winter break was much needed and appreciated… I’m so glad to be back with these kiddos.
Happy New Year!