Aaron Callaghan & Paul Butler



Grade Level


Subject Area


Overview of unit / lessons / activities (assumptions of prior knowledge and/or learning)

This mini-unit addressing Experimental and Theoretical Probability engages students in both classroom and computer based activities. Prior to these lessons, students must have an understanding of basic probability terminology as well as general skills with computers including the use of spreadsheet software, concept mapping software and accessing online resources.

The lessons included in this package include:

     1. Review of "Basic Probability"

     2. Internet interactive exploration of experimental and theoretical probabilities (coin tossing and spinner)

     3. Rock, Paper, Scissors classroom activity with follow up computer activity

     4. Probability Assignment - Concept Mapping with Inspiration

Correlations to ICT and curriculum outcomes

Math Outcomes:        G1                 Conduct experiments and simulations to find probabilities of single and complimentary events

                                     G2                 Determine theoretical probabilities of single and complimentary events

                                     G3                 Compare experimental and theoretical probabilities

ICT Outcomes:           PTS 9.1       use software to brainstorm, develop a thought web, outline, and map ideas under study with independence

                                     PTS 9.2       explore curriculum concepts under study using specialized software; measuring, sampling and recording equipment; and computer-based simulations, with teacher assistance

                                     PTS 9.5       develop multimedia presentations, based on sound principles of design, with increasing confidence,  efficiency and independence

                                     RPSD9.1     select appropriate measuring and recording devices and/or software to collect data, discover patterns of change over time, solve problems and  make logical decisions based on their investigations; with teacher assistance

                                     RPSD 9.2    create and use electronic charts, maps, tables, graphs, spread sheets and databases to collect, analyse and display data independently

Projected timeline for preparation and for carrying out activities

If used in entirety, this mini-unit has a projected timeline of 6-9 "50 minute" periods. In addition, some lessons may be "teacher led" if time is limited.

Equipment Requirements: (computers, software, etc)


Lessons may be “teacher led” in the classroom with a computer with Internet access and a LCD projector. Student activities are best completed individually or with a partner at a computer with internet access. Students should have access to a printer for their finished work.


Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox: spreadsheet software such as Excel, AppleWorks, or StarOffice Calc; Concept Mapping software such as Inspiration or Kidspiration.

Teaching materials provided (Blacklines, worksheets, templates, teacher materials)

All materials are available through the web-based lesson.

Links to individual activities are also given here.


Several student worksheets and teacher masters are included:



Word processor

Acrobat Reader

Student Worksheet – Adjustable Spinner



Student Worksheet – Coin Tossing



Student Worksheet – Rock – Paper – Scissors



Activity Follow-Up – Rock – Paper – Scissors



Teacher Master for Activity Follow-Up – Rock, Paper, Scissors



Probability Assignment – Concept Map



Probability Assignment – Concept Map - Exemplar



Assessment Rubric –Probability Assignment – Concept Map




Resources available for teacher/student use (websites, references, etc)


(Introduction to Probability)

NCTM Illuminations

(Search for Adjustable Spinner)

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

(See Data Analysis & Probability – Grades 6-8)

Math Goodies


(Make your own rubrics, or adapt those made by other teachers)

Detailed instructions for each activity or lesson (teacher notes, activity information, learning strategies, teacher role, student roles)

Lesson 1 – Review of Probability

Time Estimate: one 50 minute period

This is meant to be a "teacher led" lesson, best carried out with a computer with internet access and an LCD projector. Teacher will show a BrainPop movie and Interactive quiz called Basic Probability – currently offered as a free sample on this web site. Then the teacher will open a review of Probability Review web site at Math Goodies to discuss previous student learning

Lesson 2 – Internet Interactive Student Activities

Time Estimate: two 50 minute periods

These two activities should be completed by students in a computer lab setting. If possible, students can work independently at one computer or if need be with a partner sharing a computer. Prior to the class, the teacher should print and copy a student worksheet for each student. The student should complete the sheet and keep it as an artifact to assist them in their mini-unit assignment.

Alternatively, the teacher can lead students through both activities as a class using a computer and LCD projector. In this case, students should each have their own worksheet to complete as the teacher goes through the activity.

Lesson 3 – Rock, Paper, Scissors

Time Estimate: three 50 minute periods

This lesson begins in the classroom with students working with a partner playing 25 games of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Students should each have the activity worksheet or alternatively, an overhead transparency could guide students through the class activity.

Class data should be recorded on the whiteboard and acts to increase the number of trials for the activity.

Students will complete a worksheet (included) on the possible outcomes of the two player game and then work on a computer to produce a spreadsheet and pie graph of their class data.

Lesson 4 – Probability Assignment: Concept Map

Time Estimate: one to three 50 minute periods

In this assignment students will demonstrate their understanding of experimental and theoretical probability by producing a concept map using Inspiration software. Again, students are ideally working independently on a computer or with a partner sharing a computer.

Depending on their experience with the program, teachers may wish to spend a period examining the software.

The teacher should print and copy the assessment rubric included, sharing it with students prior to completing the assignment. As well, the exemplar included should be shared with students, giving them a better idea of what is expected by the teacher. 

Student products expected

Students will complete the following:


Word processor

Acrobat Reader

Student Worksheet – Adjustable Spinner



Student Worksheet – Coin Tossing



Activity Follow-Up – Rock – Paper – Scissors



Probability Assignment – Concept Map




and will produce:

Rock, Paper, Scissors Chart and Pie Graph of Class Data (Computer generated and printed)

Samples (include teacher notes, assessment information, student work if available)

Teacher Master - Rock, Paper, Scissors Possible Outcomes Worksheet

          r-p-s_teacher.rtf     (word processor)

          r-p-s_teacher.pdf   (Acrobat Reader)

Exemplar – Probability Assignment - Concept Map

          assign_exemplar.rtf     (word processor)

          assign_exemplar.pdf   (Acrobat Reader)

Logistics (organization, grouping, management issues, access to technology)

The teacher should have general abilities with all software applications used within this mini-unit including Inspiration and spreadsheet and web browser programs of choice.

Assessment information (e.g., rubrics for products and/or process)

Rubric included:

          concept_map_rubric.rtf     (word processor)

          concept_map_rubric.pdf   (Acrobat Reader)

Possible extensions