Saturday, January 24, 2009

Probability and Poker

My friend, and the math dept. chair at my school found a great lesson in the New York Times on teaching probability using the game of poker. She shared it with me and I loved it! So...off the the dollar store I went to purchase cards. Forget about the fact that I don't play poker and really don't have a clue on how to do so.

I printed the lesson for my intern and myself, then printed the article that goes with the lesson (a classroom set) so that my students could read it. Then also printed a classroom set of General Poker Rules so we could all go over them together.

On Thursday each student had a deck of cards and we discussed the number of the following in the deck:
suits
face cards
number cards
high cards
low cards
red cards
black cards

Then I had them shuffle their decks and deal three hands of five cards. We did some pretty cool figurin' on probability based on what they dealt. It was very fun.

Yesterday we went through the article and talked about reasons Poker is a good learning tool, so that when they had the discussion with their parents about what they are doing in math, they would actually be able to say that I am not teaching them to gamble.

Yesterday we also had a few house-keeping things to do before we started on that, and because none of my students work at the same rate, classes as a whole were cut to about 20 minutes (tops). So during my last two class periods I showed them a great card trick my dad taught me...spent some time fooling them all...then taught them the trick. I know...I know...that is not necessarily in the curriculum, however I do have a theory about just having fun in my classroom. There are very few teachers who would take 10-20 minutes to show them a card trick...but you see, what I'm doing when I have fun with my students, is building relationships. Each time I let my "teacher" persona take a rest, they realize they can trust me and it helps them realize that they truly have an advocate in me. Yes...it might semi-backfire every once in a while, so that my students think they can get away with stuff, but all it takes to bring that back in is for me to have a conversation with that particular student about the right time to get to work and the right time to have fun, and the problem is over.

Anyway, if anyone would like to give me hints on how to play Poker, I'm certainly open. I really think I should understand a little of it before I really use it as a teaching tool.

5 comments:

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Kim Eckhardt said...

I wish I would have had this at Winthrop when I failed logical math three times because I didn't know how to play cards. :p It was then that I decided that teaching in fact wasn't for me and I needed to have a major and minor that negated math as much as possible. Thus...English and Journalism. Sadly, this is a true story. :)

Kim Eckhardt said...

There's not a thing wrong with teaching your kids that math is FUN! You must be an awesome teacher. :)

Teacher in the middle said...

Oh I've already heard from plenty of parents that "poker is against our religion!" So today is the final day of real poker! :(

Kim Eckhardt said...

:(