Bribery works sometimes!

Year 10 is a difficult level to teach. Until students reach VCE they will often dis-engage from learning. Learning profiles will often show a ‘backwards’ trend. So in class last week I resorted to bribery!

The topic was conditional probability. I started my lesson with this problem:

What are the chances of rolling a 5 on a standard six-sided die, followed by a spade drawn from a standard 52 card deck?

Well my students didn’t exactly jump out of their seats with enthusiasm!

So I said: “OK, here is a deck of cards and a die. If you are the first to get a five and a spade, then you will get a 10% bonus on your test.”

The few students who were paying attention nearly did jump out of their seats and wanted to go first. So I went round the class of 18 students and guess what, no winner! “Bad luck”, I said. But I really had their attention now, and they implored me to go another round.

I reluctantly agreed, but said they had to listen carefully to how we work out these type of probability questions. We eventually got to:

So then I went round the class again. Full attention. Groans when a 5 wasn’t rolled, or a spade didn’t turn up. Guess what, no winners again. It wasn’t until the fourth round that eventually student K won. We then had a useful discussion about experimental v. theoretical probability.

So bribery worked this time. Perhaps, I’ll use it again soon?

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About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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One Response to Bribery works sometimes!

  1. mathspig says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Your blog is great! It gives a realistic insight into how students react to topics in class. Your 10% bonus is a winner but have a look at this post … maybe they should lose some marks if they don’t score.
    http://mathspig.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/will-luck-be-a-lady-tonight/

    Cheers

    mathspig

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