Simulations. A powerful concept in real-life….a massively challenging topic in the 7th grade math standards. My colleague and I have been struggling with how to teach simulations ever since we started using Eureka Math as our primary curriculum. To help with simulations, we tapped into a resource we have used successfully with other topics–what we call a “template” or a graphic organizer that we design to directly match our content.
For simulations, we began by creating a step-by-step template, directly from Eureka’s instruction to teachers:
We used this version for two years….and found that the students were more or less just memorizing what went in each spot, rather than demonstrating understanding of the concept.
Revising for Understanding
This year, my colleague started saying that she wanted to try to have the students show us a better understanding, rather than just filling in blanks. So, we pared down the template, as seen in this example:
Reflection and Next Steps
With this new version, we saw better understanding from more students, yes, but we have ideas, still, on how to improve this template:
- As teachers, we think of these checkboxes in pairs–device and outcomes; trial and success; calculating the probability. We need to find a way to convey those relationships in the formatting.
- We also need to find a way to remind students that they need to specify the number of trials…without us saying “how many trials will you do?” Students got better about explaining how to calculate the probability, but many still forgot to specify the number of trials (or to specify that you are doing more than one trial), which is an important concept in simulations. We don’t want to make this template into a step-by-step list, but we did the students a disservice by specifying only five of the six important aspects of a simulation. We either need to specify fewer across the board, or to specify them all. Clearly, we will be revising this, again!!