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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

1, 2, 3, 4! We Want MORE! (Math, that is!)

My math group has just begun a very fun unit in probability and statistics. We will also be covering making good estimates, sampling, and more. This wide-ranging and hands-on exploration should probably take us to the end of the year.

So far this week, we've done the 1-2-3-4 activity, inspired by an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 30, 1980. The item said: Write the numbers 1,2,3, and 4 on a piece of paper. Ask someone to circle any one of these numbers. Four out of five so asked will circle the 3." 

On Monday, I distributed slips of paper with 1 2 3 4 on them. I asked each child to circle a number and turn the slip facedown, with no discussion. Then I had each child write their answer, individually, to these questions: Do you think any one number will be circled lots more than any other and, if so, which one? Or do you think it will be random? Why? After that, I grouped children to discuss their results, and then they could choose one person to report back to the class. I listed the numbers 1 2 3 4 on the board and students put their strips of paper under each number, created a type of graph. We analyzed the results.

Even though the number 3 was the most widely chosen number (chosen by 6 out of 12 people), students still strongly felt that it was "random". But after I read the article piece, they were intrigued, and thought we needed a larger sample. (We are learning that sample size is CRUCIAL to getting better results.)

The children took the paper strips home to have their family members circle a number. We added that information to our sample and then went to collect even more data. Small groups went to three different math groups - Val's, Grace's, and Chris's/Michele's group were all sampled in the same way.

Explaining the project to the kindergarteners
That's quite a bit of data!


While our data certainly did not show that four out of five people selected the number 3, it did point to a preference. Again, we talked about sample size, and probably needing more data.


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