2017-05-18 – Day 8 – Rich Task Routines & Fraction Splats

One of the charges my district has taken on requires that we work toward improving math instruction at the 5th-grade level – this grade level has been identified as a severe turning point in the performance and mindset of learners toward mathematics. We are working on ways that will improve instruction and learning experiences so students feel differently about mathematics and themselves.

One of our approaches is incorporating rich tasks for our students to access. The Rich Tasks provide both a better math experience and promote a growth mindset in mathematics.


The process I am testing is trying to tease out if the students can make connections between their thinking and others. In addition to sharing their thinking and being able to perform some complex mental arithmetic with everyones’ favorite F-word, fractions. I was gifted with two extraordinary teachers that let me try this approach with the amazing Steve Wyborney’s Fraction Splats. I have had huge success in grades 3 through 12 with the fraction splits, so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue, but the questioning and format may be a challenge. The results shown in the video below show the comparison of previous Rich Task Routines with the new version. What do you #NoticeWonder?

Overall, the day felt very successful, the students seemed highly engaged in their learning, and sharing out their thinking. The valuable conversations and having students point to and demonstrate their thinking is huge. The connecting to other people’s thinking may need some direct instruction on, and multiple reps before students are reliably able to tackle this piece.


Family Math Night (1of3)

What might it look like for a learner to welcome a challenge, to see a difficult task and smile. What if we had learners that sought out challenges, learners that knew that growing their brain was the result of challenging their brain with hard tasks.

Learners that foster a growth mindset in mathematics exhibit these characteristics, and this is the message we want to communicate with our stakeholders. In our first (of three) Family Math Nights, we showcased the work of Dr. Jo Boaler, from Stanford University, and the wonderful things happening at youcubed.org.


Families engaged in fun mathematics, guided by a wonderful group of caring teachers, where communication and visualizing mathematics were experienced. Several teachers had variations of visual mathematics, like What’s My Place? What’s My Value?, or specific visual methods  highlighted in the California Frameworks for Mathematics.


My favorite part of all of these nights is observing parents watching their kids enjoy math and listening to their conversations. Families together engaging is mathematics in a fun way, building connections and learning. Our next event will focus on Mathematical Methods, areas that the community identify as challenging to understand, teach, and explore, which we am really looking forward to capturing.

In what ways are we fostering a growth mindset in mathematics outside events like this is an ongoing development for me, and I am wondering how to incorporate more visual mathematics across our district. What might you suggest to help us get better together? I’d love to hear if you have any similar stories?

A huge thanks to our host at Jim Maples Academy, to Dr. Boaler for sharing these transformational ideas, to our teachers for their tireless efforts to impact our learners, and to the community for sharing our night of Fostering a Growth Mindset in Mathematics.