I was listening to my students talking about books and realized that they read lots of books about or with dragons in them.  At the same time, I had been mulling over a probability project that incorporates genetics.   My students were discussing the many traits of dragons. Some have spikes on their tails, some have feathers , others have scales; some breath blue fire, some breath red fire and others don't breath fire at all.  I had no idea the extensive genetic differentiation of dragons.

You can see where this is going...

The more I thought about the probability project we were going to do, the more I thought that plants or human genetic traits were going to pale by comparison to these dragon characters that my students were interested in.  Now, as I was no expert in dragons, I needed to do some investigation. I interviewed my students about dragons and took copious notes.  I shared with my students what I was thinking about with this math project and got "awesome", "cool", "yes!"  I knew that I was on the right track.  They didn't even seem to care that there would be this math concept, probability, because after all we were going to get to do a project about dragons.

With the students'  encouragement, I started developing the project.  I started with a story.  Some of my students ended up adding to and revising it when they were hanging out. That story became the basis for the entire project in which students learn about and determine probabilities while designing dragons and completing Punnett squares.  Even as students worked on the project, they had ideas for more places to go with it.  Students were doing all the kinds of things I love in math:

• thinking about concepts deeply
• engaging actively in their learning
• practicing and applying concepts
• and writing about their math.

The resulting
probability and genetics project has differentiated opportunities for students; some even went down the path of recessive and dominant genes and how that impacts probability calculations.

And while they were learning about probability, what did I learn? I  learned that when I listen and collaborate with students, my teaching is better and their learning is more meaningful.

Check out some great math resources to support your teaching so you can do these fun student-centered projects in your class in the links below.

Math Mondays is a weekly post where I (and guest teachers) share tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section, on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section.

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1. Wow, I love your probability and genetics project with dragons! It is very creative and unique. STEM learning at it's best!!!

1. It was super fun to create and do. My students were SO into it. It led some students to do some deeper study of genetics and most importantly EVERYONE got the probability concepts. Thanks for taking time to comment.

Cheers,
DocRunning

2. Thanks for these Monday links.

1. You are most welcome, Joan! Thanks for joining in with your great products.

Cheers,
DocRunning

2. Math Monday is great. Thank you.

3. Thank you! Love sharing ideas and looking forward to sharing other math teacher tips in the coming months.

Cheers,
DocRunning

3. Thanks for the link up. I always need ideas for math.

1. You are welcome, Kristy. Thanks for checking it out.

Cheers,
DocRunning

4. What a great idea! I love teaching probability at the end of the school year. It's fun to do experiments in math class.

1. This was definitely one of the best projects I have done with my students. They are so into it.

Cheers,
DocRunning

5. You had me at "dragons". Adding the probability/genetics component- genius! What a fun project! Thanks for sharing. :)
Pam

1. Thanks for the feedback...I would never had thought of it unless I was listening to my students. And they have such a sense of ownership in their learning. It's always an adventure and amazing.

Cheers,
DocRunning