Rule of Four
The “Rule of Four” is a way to think about math both at the entry point of a task and in the representation of math thinking. Showing our thinking through multiple representations helps us have a stronger and deeper understanding of the mathematics. It also allows us to see connections across concepts and topics in mathematics.
Why use the “Rule of Four”?
When we strive to represent our understand using the “Rule of Four,” we are asking ourselves to find deeper connections both within and across concepts. In addition, it validates multiple perspectives in mathematics.
When to use the “Rule of Four”
The “Rule of Four” is appropriate for most math work. How much it is emphasized depends on the context.
How to use the “Rule of Four”
Student may not be familiar and/or fluent with representing their work in a variety of ways. Explicit modeling from the teacher and giving students many opportunities to practice representing their work in multiple ways is an effective way to teach students to think about their math work in this fashion. It is equally important that students make connections among the representations. These connections lead to a deeper understanding over time.
Download a copy of this poster here.
Find out more about research on how developing flexibility in math problem solving improves student's procedural and conceptual knowledge and flexibility.