Activities & Lesson Plans - 5th & 6th Grade Newsletter 3/26/10 - Odds Of A Perfect Bracket

Grade: 5th-6th

March 26, 2010 | Grades 5&6

In This Issue: Book By Book, The Perfect Bracket, Women in Math and Science

Goodnight Moon KideosA Reading Ritual
When his youngest daughter, Kristen, hit the fourth grade, Jim Brozina suggested they read together before bed 100 days in a row. "The Streak" was his way of stretching their nighttime read-aloud sessions beyond the age that her older sister, Kathy, had decided she'd outgrown them. It worked—after reaching 100, they upped the ante to 1,000, then continued to expand the challenge until they reached 3,218 nights in a row.  

Activity Ideas - Language Arts
Reading & Writing

Reminisce with your child about books you read together when he or she was younger. 
  • THINK: What makes a good bedtime story? What makes a book good read-aloud material—rhyming, silly words, outrageous characters?
  • Have your child imagine that he or she is in a contest to create an award-winning read-aloud experience. 
  • Come up with and summarize a story idea for a picture book or short story. If it's a picture book, provide suggestions for images. 

Numbers Bonus: Kristen and her dad read together for 3,218 days in a row. How many years is that? Nearly 9 years. (3,218 reading days ÷ 365 days/year = 8.8 years
Hear Goodnight Moon and other old favorites.
Learning Tips: Write Narratives and Essays, Author's Techniques

The Perfect Bracket
This March seems especially Mad. Countless bracket-wielding fans watched the first two rounds helplessly as upset after upset messed with their predictions. Not Alex Hermann. The 17-year-old had a perfect bracket, picking every game through the first two rounds correctly. Alex, who has autism, is taking it all in stride: "I'm good at math," he says. Alex's winning streak ended on Thursday night, when Syracuse lost to Butler; Alex had Syracuse as one of the Elite Eight.  

Activity Ideas - Math
Alex managed to do the nearly impossible by picking every game through the first two rounds correctly. The odds of anybody doing that is 13,460,000 to 1, according to

  • Discuss the meaning of odds with your child. Tell him or her that the odds of an event occurring is the ratio of the number of ways the event does not occur (failures) to the number of ways the event does occur (successes). Odds = failures:successes.
  • Challenge your child to come up with examples of "successes" and "failures." (In a classroom of 20 kids, 2 are girls. The odds that the teacher would call on a girl would be 10 to 1.)
  • Discuss why a perfect bracket is such a long shot. (Because of all the ways to fill out a bracket—9 quintillion to be exact, according to a DePaul University professor.)

Bonus: Have your child predict the upcoming matchups based on each team's seed, or ranking. (For example, #1 seed Duke vs. #4 seed Purdue; in this case, Duke is expected to win.) You may also suggest they look at earlier matchups, to see some of the upsets that ousted top seeds. Visit ESPN for an up-to-date tournament bracket
Research It: If your child is interested, suggest he or she learn more about autism.

She's a Scientist
A recent report found evidence that men still outnumber women in math and science careers. Researchers note that the number of women receiving doctorates in science, technology, engineering or math have increased. Still, stereotypes and cultural biases persist.

Activity Ideas - Language Arts
Share this with your child: The report included research showing that girls' work suffers from the mere suggestion that they do poorly in math. As such, teaching girls about how stereotypes hurt performance can diminish such effects.

  • Have your child identify and research women who have or currently are making a difference in the science and math worlds.
  • Encourage your child to choose one woman scientist or mathematician. Have him or her write a biography to highlight her accomplishments.
Research: The Secret Life of Scientists, PBS
Learning Tips: Writing Compositions

Game of the Week
Game of Week

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