I have had several people ask me to go into more detail about my math tasks. I know that sometimes they can seem confusing and even way beyond your students. I promise they can do it and so can you!!
(You can also download my Free Math Task Explanations for more information)
Two years ago my state had a MAJOR training on math tasks. This was where I learned what was expected and how to create them. This is also where I accidentally flashed the assistant superintendent while pumping (I was still breast feeding my daughter) during a break. Alas that is a horrifying story for another time!
I admit that when I was first introduced to math tasks that I was doubtful. They seemed SO open ended and very ambiguous. But I soon realized that therein lies their beauty! One of the points of the Common Core is to create students who are deep, independent thinkers that can make educated estimations as well as check the reasonableness of their answers. Math tasks fit in perfectly with that! Why are we doing all the heavy lifting for our students? I'm too old and too tired for that!
Once I realized the beauty of the task I thought to myself: "Okay we just had a week long training on this. I'm actually excited about it and want to try it." I set out with my other teaching half to get our math task process started. We came up with a list of procedures to help us. We went over these procedures a lot at the beginning and then periodically throughout the year. I'm sure you could think of others, but here are the ones we came up with:
1. Quiet voices.
2. Everyone participates.
3. Focus on task.
4. Take turns.
5. No put downs. Everyone’s ideas can be heard.
6. Tasks may be hard, stick with it!
7. Figure out ways to get along! Problem solve!!
8. Teacher’s job is to guide you, not give you the answers!
9. Three ways to show your work.
10. More than one way to solve a problem.
11. Treat manipulatives with respect.
12. Be responsible to return all materials that are checked out.
13. Record your thinking so we don’t forget.
14. Circle the important numbers and words.
Click on the link to go to my Math Task Procedures Freebie!!
We decided to try and do the math tasks in a manageable way. We knew our state and district wanted us to implement them but with the millions of other things that are mandated we didn't have time to do one daily. We decided on once a week and loved it! We chose our short day (early out day) and did the tasks every Wednesday because our time for math was a little shorter that day, about an hour long. This gave us enough time to present, work on and share the task. Our students also became used to task day and honestly it became their favorite day of the week.
Well it seems like this post is turning into a novel so I will break it up into a few parts. I hope you enjoyed part on. If you have ANY questions please leave a comment and ask. If you have a question then others have it as well.