Rich mathematical tasks are essential for engaging learners and creating dynamic classrooms. In this post—adapted from her book, Modeling with Mathematics—Nancy Butler Wolf looks at six characteristics shared by the best math tasks.
As teachers make the foray into mathematical modeling in their classrooms, it is important that they use rich tasks. Unfortunately, too few textbooks contain such tasks, so teachers must scramble to find or develop their own. Inevitably, the question arises, “How do we know a good task from a bad one?” Here is a brief look at six important characteristics of rich modeling tasks:
By Nancy Butler Wolf (@drnanbut), author of Modeling with Mathematics
Mathematical modeling is not just a type of word problem—it is a mathematical practice. Modeling can be infused throughout the math curriculum, and can be used in conjunction with many content areas or standards. Modeling represents a shift from learning math to doing math. The inclusion of modeling in the math classroom can increase student engagement, increase students’ depth of understanding, and provide opportunities for investigation, contribution, and success for all learners.
Arguably the Nine Most Important Words in the Math Common Core
By Steve Leinwand (@steve_leinwand), American Institutes for Research, author of Accessible Mathematics.
I am increasingly convinced that “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” (Standard for Mathematical Practice 3) may be the nine most important words in the entire Common Core. Far more than an equal among eight practices, SMP 3 is a principle that encompasses the entire Common Core.
It seems ironic that the first Standard for Mathematical Practice focuses on problem solving. When I was a student, math problem solving seemed to be an afterthought. Problems were at the bottom of the textbook page or at the end of a lesson. My perception was that math was about computation. Most of my time was spent memorizing facts and algorithms and solving for the right answer. Thank goodness, then, that we have revised our goals for today’s students. While I do hope they can find the answers to math computations, I know they can accomplish so much more. With guidance from the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, we focus on ways to help our students develop the skills needed to be proficient mathematicians who solve problems.
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