Session 10, Part C:
Inferences and Predictions (30 minutes)

The NCTM (2000) data analysis and probability standards state that students should "develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data." Appropriate beginnings for the concepts of inference and prediction in pre-K to grade 2 classrooms occur in conversations with children as they consider what the data are telling us, what might account for these results, and whether we'd get the same results in other similar situations. Inference and prediction are more advanced aspects of working with data, as they require some notion of the ideas of sampling and population.

Children's first experience is often with census data -- that is, the population of their class. When they begin to wonder what might be true for other classes in their own school and other schools, they begin to consider that many data sets are samples of larger populations. These considerations are the precursors to understanding the notion of inferences from samples. Children should be encouraged to develop conjectures based on data, consider alternative explanations, and design further investigations to examine their speculations. Note 5

When viewing the video segment, keep the following questions in mind:

 • How does Ms. Sabanosh encourage students to make inferences and predictions? • An expectation for students at this level is that they will "discuss events related to [their] experiences as likely or unlikely" (NCTM, 2000). How is this expectation illustrated in this video segment?

 Video Segment In this video segment, Ellen Sabanosh asks her students to predict the number of raisins in an unopened box, based on the data they have collected. Watch them discuss both reasonable and unreasonable predictions. If you're using a VCR, you can find this segment on the session video approximately 20 minutes and 25 seconds after the Annenberg Media logo.

Problem C1

Answer the questions you reflected on as you watched the video:

 a. How does Ms. Sabanosh encourage students to make inferences and predictions? b. How is NCTM's expectation for students (i.e., that they will discuss events related to their experiences as likely or unlikely) illustrated in this video segment?

 Problem C2 If you were using this investigation with your own students, what questions could you pose to further elicit and extend student thinking about notions of samples and populations? Join the discussion! Post your answer to Problem C2 on Channel Talk, then read and respond to answers posted by others.

 Problem C3 Embedded in the students' responses about "what would not be a good guess" are early notions of making conjectures and forming hypotheses. How could you extend this conversation to bring out more speculations and then formalize these notions into stated conjectures that could be investigated further? What questions would you ask? How would you expect children to respond? What are some conjectures that might result?

 Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). Standards on Data Analysis and Probability: Grades K-2, 108-115. Reproduced with permission from the publisher. © 2000 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. All rights reserved.
 Session 10, Grades K-2: Index | Notes | Solutions | Video