Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 5

August is here! Thank you for stopping by. This week we are talking about rich mathematical tasks from Jo Boaler's, Mathematical Mindsets.

Teachers are the ones who can create exciting mathematics environments, give students the positive message they need, and take any math task and make it one that piques students' curiosity and interest. ~Jo Boaler (57)

Key Takeaway: Mathematical tasks should be challenging but accessible to students. The tasks should be engaging and require students to think about math visually and numerically.

Classroom Connections:
  • When giving students problems to solve, pique curiosity and prime their brains for learning by giving students the opportunity to explore problems even before the methods to solve the problem have been explained to them. Yes, you heard that right, even before they know the methods to solve. Through exploration, students may come to a point when a method needs to be explained for them to progress further in solving the problem. At this time, the method can be introduced in response to students discovering the need.
  • These are six questions that can help guide in creating and offering rich mathematical tasks (90) to students. These are great questions to have nearby when planning.
    • Can you open the task to encourage multiple methods, pathways, and representations?
    • Can you make it an inquiry task?
    • Can you ask the problem before teaching the method?
      • This is a definite one to try out! Pose the problem first. See where students take the problem. Be sure to ask them to be able to justify their thinking!
    • Can you add a visual component?
      • Drawings can put a new lens on a math problem for students!
    • Can you make it low floor and high ceiling?
      • Tasks can be created so that they are accessible to students of various readiness levels while offering extensions to those you are ready.
    • Can you add the requirement to convince and reason?
  • Flipping questions found right in textbooks is a starting point for creating rich mathematical tasks. Starting slow is key. In this way, you can begin to build a bank of rich tasks that parallel the standards you need to teach.
    • Here are some websites to peruse for additional ideas. It is important to consider your students when choosing problems. Raise the ceiling and see how high your students can soar!

As the new school year is upon us, let's consider ways to transform the types of math problems/tasks students see in the math classroom.

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