Rich Mathematical Tasks

I'm so glad you've joined our collaborative Book Study on Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler! If you've missed the first few chapters, no worries; you can catch up below:
Chapter Summary
This chapter is all about how to take mundane math tasks and turn them into vehicles for learning and inquiry. I love the term Boaler uses: math excitement. Truthfully, I had never thought of math in terms of excitement (but after reading this chapter, I too, am excited about math!)
There are six steps to increase the potential for learning with a math task:
I especially love #5: lower the floor and higher the ceiling. One way to allow all students access to a problem is to make the floor lower by asking students how they see a problem. Ask them to explain what makes sense to them. Make a task higher ceiling by having students write a new question or problem that is similar to the original problem but more difficult.
My Takeaway
Students need TIME to explore, discover, and multiple opportunities to share! Kids can learn so much from their peers! Give them open-ended problems and don't teach the "How" first; allow students to come up with their own observations and explanations.
3 Tips
 You MUST check out Boaler's website, Not only is it a plethora of resources, but she has put together your first week of school called  A Week of Inspirational Math.
Each day focuses on one aspect of a mathematical mindset, complete with a video or powerpoint presentation, as well as a teacher guide. And best of all: it's FREE!!  Many of the lessons and examples shared in Chapter 5 are part of the first week!
Remember to not always be so quick to teach rules and algorithms. They won't make sense to students unless they understand WHY and how mathematics works! Here are some samples of second graders working out the problem: "What is the difference between 72 and 55?"
Focus on problem solving and discovering a variety of strategies. What makes sense to each student? How can they show their thinking visually and explain their thought process? You may be interested in my math problem solving booklets, one for each month. Check them out in my TpT store here.


  1. Great ideas! Youcubed has become one of my go-tos for planning. I loved the Week of Inspirational Math activities! I really saw my students open up more and more with each day. It was awesome!

    1. I'm so glad you already have used WIM activities with your class; I"m excited to try it when school begins! I may come to you for advice :)

  2. I love your opening image about mathematics excitement. I really enjoyed seeing the variety of student work examples. Not teaching algorithms first can really open up curiosity and deeper understanding. Sometimes, students come already knowing the algorithm and it is hard to get them to explain when they already "got the answer."

    1. Yes, students often have a harder time if they know the algorithm without the understanding! But I love when kids "discover" the algorithm is often a more efficient method of solving :) Thanks for stopping by, Pam!