Rich Math Tasks
SFUSD’s Core Curriculum in Mathematics is structured around a unit design that holds the rich math task at the center of the students’ mathematical experience.
A rich math task is part of a balanced approach to mathematics that includes conceptual understanding, problem-solving, and procedural fluency, and offers every student opportunities to engage in meaningful, rigorous mathematics. A rich math task takes time to solve and lends itself to collaboration and multiple perspectives. Robust use of these tasks creates the context in which students build multiple representations and communicate their reasoning.
Read more about problem centered math teaching in this article by Sarah Lubienski from Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.
Every grade and course has units structured in this way. Three hundred SFUSD teachers spanning PK – 12 are building, field testing, and refining these units: harvesting tasks and lesson series from a range of exceptional materials and organizing them in ways that embody the mathematical rigor and coherence of the CCSS-M.
Overarching principles of a unit task
Tasks support productive struggle.
Tasks build conceptual understanding.
Tasks allow students to show what they know and are able to do.
Why are group tasks important?
Group tasks provide a perfect environment for students to implement the Mathematical Practices outlined in the CCSS-M. Group work and collaborative learning are effective in academically and linguistically heterogeneous classrooms, and the evidence for the academic and social benefits of these instructional strategies is substantial.
Group-worthy tasks require students to share their experiences and justify their beliefs and opinions. In such activities, students analyze, synthesize, and evaluate; they discuss cause and effect, explore controversial issues, build consensus, and draw conclusions. Group-worthy learning assignments rely on using materials that incorporate multiple representations of the academic content, thereby supporting various ways of learning, the development of multiple literacies, and deeper and more sophisticated understandings. They create and support interdependence among members of a group, which is the essence of collaboration.
Group-worthy tasks have academic and social benefits; they foster students' critical thinking skills and contribute to friendlier classrooms.