4 Simple Ways To Elevate Any Math Task

We all know using math tasks in our classrooms is important. They encourage multiple perspectives, improve perseverance by having students struggle productively, and make for rich discussions and learning.

But sometimes…quality math tasks can be hard to find. So here are some ways you can use what you find or have access to and elevate any math task! They’re quick and easy changes but sure to have a major impact.

For the purposes of this post, here is the task we’ll be using!

Leave Out the Questions

A super quick and easy change! Leave out the questions and have your students formulate them!

Here’s why I like doing this:

  • It gets students thinking about the information and making decisions on what can actually be answered by the given information
  • Puts the sense making in the hands of your students
  • Encourages multiple responses and entry points for all
  • The heavy lifting is put on the students

Give the Answers

I love this one! Pick a section of the task and give the answer! Then students are able to create multiple responses based on this information.

Here’s why I like doing this:

  • Encourages multiple perspectives and an entry point for all
  • Encourages estimation and making revisions
  • Allows for divergent thinking

Connect, Compare, Critique

This one is great because it really focuses on SMP 3: Justify and Critique. I also love that the math being put in front of students is correct, so the focus isn’t on deciding whether it’s accurate or not but the process.

Here’s why I like doing this:

  • Students are able to see different math representations
  • Encourages students to critique for efficiency, etc
  • Gives students the opportunity to give and receive feedback and make connections

Find the Error and Justify

Another one that focuses on SMP 3: Justify and Critique but this times students are finding the error and justifying their response with their own math!

Here’s why I like doing this:

  • gives students the opportunity to justify their answers
  • encourages a great math discussion, which in turn is great learning!
  • encourages great collaboration and conversations

Okay, that’s all for this week! Make sure to tune into my instagram every Monday for more math tips! Happy teaching friends!


5 Reasons Why It’s Important to Know Your Math Standards…

why it's important to know your math standards

When I first started teaching fifth grade math, getting to know the standards was where I spent most of my time. Doing the math myself, learning different models to support students, getting to know where students are going and where they’ve been.

It was an investment of my time that has paid off because it made me a better teacher. So let’s get started…here’s how knowing your standards can help you as a teacher:

I use math tasks in my class on a weekly basis. Since I truly know the standards I’m able to revise and supplement the tasks as needed. This is so important because I know it is a valuable use of our time in the classroom, and I will be able to truly see the learning of my students.

Using models in the classroom is SO IMPORTANT for supporting student learning. You are able to make informed decisions on the models you put in front of students when you know the standards.

Oof, this one is so important. When you know the math and truly understand where students have been and where they need to go you are able to ask them the right questions to get them there! It’s so important as math teachers to ask questions that get students thinking without giving them too much or jumping in to save them. It truly is an art! Knowing your standards help you do just this!

Asking the right questions and facilitating meaningful discussions go hand in hand. When you have a clear understanding of the standards you not only able to ask the right questions but also use student responses strategically! This makes for great discussions and learning!

When you know the math you able to anticipate misconceptions and misunderstandings that students may have! When you are able to anticipate them you can plan for this and address them in a more productive way.

So now what?

  • Read books, collaborate, learn from others, ask questions to help you get to know your standards
  • Plan for these things! Pick tasks that address the standards, think about what models students will be using, what questions you’ll ask, and anticipate what misconceptions students will have
  • Teach and reflect! The more you teach them the better you’ll know them BUT make sure you reflect so you know how to do it better next time!

That’s all! Happy teaching friends!