Here's how it works. I give every student a bag of fun size M&Ms and ask them to 1. Predict how many M&Ms the bag has, how many M&Ms the bag shouldn't have, and how many of each color they should have. 2. Record how many of each color in their bag as well as the bags of their group members. 3. Record the number of M&Ms in every bag for our class. Now, at this point the students work through creating a histogram, a probability distribution, calculating mean, and reading through various vocabulary in action.
But what's really important is what I'm doing and not doing. As the groups work together I'm not answering questions directly, instead encouraging them to help each other and seek the answers from their group members. I'm also recording any questions that casually come up as the students count and record data. And lastly, I'm recording results from the M&M bags for the lesson follow up and the introduction to standard deviation and normalizing data.
I'm impressed with the questions my students asked, and I'm excited to encourage them to follow up and investigate the results. Here's a picture I took of my board as I added as I recorded the questions.
These are the actually questions my student s asked, just worded nicely to fit on the screen. Because I collected all of the data myself from each group I'm going to use it to follow up and answer some of these questions. Students will learn normal curves and see what the distributions for the bags and each color look like. Then I might bring in a normal bag and a big bag to see how they compare. We might also connect this back to probability to answer some other questions like, "what percent of bags will only have 4 of the 6 colors?". I'm interested to see where this takes us.