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What Makes A Good Resource - Pass the Parcel Probability

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 08 September 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 03 September 2010 by ncetm_administrator

What Makes a Good Resource

Pass the Parcel Probability

Teacher comment:
I find that it can be hard to interpret wordy probability questions, and make relevant diagrams, particularly if the questions go on to require conditional probability.   Some of my lower sixths write beautiful, clear working, some of them write minimist scrawls, and illegible diagrams.  I wanted them to learn from each other about how to write maths clearly, and to write with an audience in mind. 

What I did:
I told them we were doing pass the parcel probability, but didn’t really explain what that meant.  I handed out sheets of paper each with a number on, one sheet between two.  Everyone turned to the probability exercise in the book and started to work on the question with the number on their piece of paper.  They did their, working on paper.  After 5-10 mins, I collected the sheets, shuffled them and handed them out again, telling pairs to carry on where the last pair left off – checking for errors and continuing.

They were a bit surprised/bemused, but settled down to trying to establish what their previous pair had done.  It certainly generated discussion!  One pair discovered that they had been on the wrong page...

When I shuffled the sheets for the second time, I asked for any feedback about the qualities that made other students work hard/easy to follow – to try to encourage better quality writing.

We passed sheets around 4 or 5 times in total for about 30-40 mins.  I had more paper to swap for any completed questions. 


I liked that they had to read and interpret a lot of questions in a short space of time, and had to think hard about the text and how it relates to the diagrams.   I hope that they learned from reading each others work, but the regular changeovers meant I didn’t get time to think as much as I wanted.  I hope they had time to think!

I think the main improvement would have been a system to allow students to feedback on errors they noticed, and how easy it their working was to read. 

When I do this again, I will organise the shuffles more intelligently:

  • 1st swap: take in sheets in twos, and swap them over,
  • After the 2nd working session, get the pairs to get together with their corresponding pair, feeding back on style and substance.
  • 2nd swap: shuffle sheets randomly
  • 3rd swap: take in sheets in pairs and swap, different pairs from before
  • after 4th working session, get the pairs to talk over feedback as before
  • etc
Secondary Resources
What makes a good resources - using the materials

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24 March 2010 12:31
I tried this idea for calculating the variance and standard deviation of a sample and population. The task ticked all the objectives and motivated the pupils to carry out some pretty mundane calculations enthusiastically. In particular, it was interesting to see how irrate they got when they couldn't understand someone else's working and surprising how they seemed to pick up connections between the processes that they hadn't noticed before. Requests to try the activity again were heard at the end of the task.
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