Thursday, June 28, 2012

Greedy Pig Probability Game


I learned how to play this game from my cooperating teacher at the middle school level who learned it at a workshop.  Since becoming aware of this game, I've seen various versions floating around the internet.  As part of my probability unit with my 8th graders after the OCCT, my cooperating teacher suggested that I spend one day playing this. 

The goal of the game is to score the most points possible.  Points are scored by rolling a single die.  Each time the die is rolled, you must add the number on the die to the sum of your previous rolls.  (This game provides students an awesome opportunity to practice their mental math skills.)  A player can roll the die as many times as they wish.  However, if a 1 is rolled, the player's score goes to zero.  If this happens, you become known as a “greedy pig.”  Whenever you are happy with your score, you may choose to stop. 

We had students play in groups of four with one student both playing and serving as the scorekeeper.  Students were competing to earn both the highest score per round and the highest score of the class period.  A round consisted of each player in the group taking one turn.   

This game taught me to appreciate the existence of foam dice.  They are silent.  They are much less likely to go flying off the desks at every turn.  My students enjoyed playing the game with the larger foam dice.

Even though we discussed the probability of rolling a 1 on a standard die, many students still mistakenly believed that the probability of rolling a 1 increased with each roll of the die. 

This game provided students with excellent, much-needed mental math practice, sparked many excellent conversations about probability, and made for a relaxing class period the day after taking the state math test. 

Other versions of this game feature a single roller for the die.  To begin, the entire class stands up.  When students are happy with their score, they sit down.  When a 1 is rolled, any students who are standing receive the score of zero and are “greedy pigs.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Classroom Before Pics Preview and Smart Board Presentation Notes

Well, I still don't know what math classes I will be teaching, but I have had the opportunity to see my classroom.  Here's a preview of the before pictures.  This summer has consisted of a lot of reading and pondering of how I want to things to run in my classroom.  Once I know exactly what classes I'll be teaching, I will be able to start doing more specific planning.   

While organizing some of my student teaching papers, I ran across some notes I took at a presentation on using Smart Board technology in the math classroom.  I don't want to lose these again, so I thought I would post them on here.  Maybe someone else can find some inspiration in them, too.        



Notes from Presentation on Using SmartBoard Technology in the Math Classroom

By: Kathy Pickup from Bishop Kelley High School, Tulsa, OK

Use the Smart Board to rearrange the order of the textbook.  Everything should be customized for EVERY class. 

Kinesthetic Memory is CRUCIAL in math.  Students NEED to take notes.   

Ms. Pickup would have students measure angles from pictures she had taken on her vacations.  Instead of measuring angles from diagrams in the geometry textbook, students would measure the angles formed by tree branches and mountains. 

Students were confused by which scale to use on the protractor.  “Where does the trunk of the tree touch the zero?  Use that scale.” 

If you're struggling with the protractor on the Smart Board, students won't feel so foolish while working with their own protractors.  


Always measure angles with the fun stuff first.  Then, move onto to the typical textbook examples.


Everyday, she issues students a Non-Optional Challenge Problem of the Day.  If students do not complete the problem, they lose 5 points from their homework grade.  If students complete it correctly, they gain 5 points on their homework grade.  If students complete the problem incorrectly, their homework remains unchanged.  This encourages all students to try the problem.  There is no penalty as long as they try.   

Teach parallel lines with vacation pictures (ski tracks, trees, etc)

Then, have students take pictures featuring parallel, perpendicular, and skew lines.  Have a show and tell day where each student explains the pictures they took. 

Take what you like and bring that into your classroom. 

Don't be satisfied with what the book publisher provides.  Insert your personality.  Add yourself to your presentation. 

If you're enthusiastic, it's contagious. 

There's no better teaching tool than making mistakes at the front of the classroom. 

A junk drawer is essential.  Make a Smart Board page with symbols you use often or have customized.