Welcome to our second Week of Inspirational Math(s)! My name is Jo Boaler, cofounder of youcubed and professor of mathematics education at Stanford. I am also the author of Mathematical Mindsets. Last year we launched our first WiM, which was downloaded 1/3 of a million times and used in every state across the US, as well as many other countries in the world. Teachers and students loved the activities and mindset videos. Of the teachers and students surveyed last year, 98 percent of the teachers said their students were engaged when working on the lessons and 96% of the students surveyed said they now believe they should keep going even when work is hard and they make mistakes. And that is a wonderful thing!

We hope that you will like this week of activities as much, and be inspired to teach open, visual, creative mathematics all year. This year we have extended our materials to K-12. We have organized them into grade bands that we think might be appropriate, but don’t take our word for it, if you are a grade 5 teacher, for example, have a look at the activities for 6 and up, you may like some of those. You know, better than we do, what is best for your students.

Last year our mindset videos for students came from my online class. This year we have made a new set, with a more playful flavor, with the help of my undergraduates and some school children! We hope you and your students enjoy them.

We recommend that you start the year with the mindset videos and accompanying activities, it is the perfect time for the inspirational messages and content, but you can use them any time. And if you did not use the first Week of Inspirational Math, you now have two weeks to use.

As with last year we have chosen some of our favorite activities that invite students into a world of open, creative, visual mathematics. We have done our best to make the activities fit a lesson, not knowing how long your lesson is! But my advice is always to keep going if students are working on important ideas and an activity needs to go into another lesson. If you would like to read any research on the reason mathematics should be open, creative and visual, and the importance of students being given mindset and other messages from brain science, please read my book or come to www.youcubed.org. And please let us know how the lessons go, via twitter (#WiM2016 @joboaler,) facebook/youcubed, and other social media. We are excited to take this journey with you again.

We would love teachers to take a survey after the week, to tell us what you thought. And if you have parents who would like to tell us the impact on their children you can ask them to complete a survey. There is also a short survey for students. You can access the surveys from the links below. Your feedback is important to us!


Day 1

The Many Ways We See Mathematics

Day 1 begins with a film that explains how our brains grow and change. After the film all grade level students are asked to do the same dot card number talk. We chose this because we believe all learners should experience the different ways we see and visualize numbers. We use these number talks with people of all ages including college students and CEO’s of companies; they are powerful and thought provoking. For K-2 the dot card is followed by a new collection of finger activities. For 3 – 12 the dot card is followed by an important activity to help students work well in groups. We also included a rich activity that shows students another open and creative way to try to fill an area with squares.

Content:  K-2: Number sense, finger discrimination, number representations; 3-12: Area, number sense, visualizing, numbers representations

Practices:  All WiM2 tasks are rich in mathematical practices

Day 2

Mistakes are Beautiful Things

Day 2 begins with a film explaining that mistakes are powerful. For K-2 day 2 begins with one of our favorite activities, seeing numbers visually. You may remember our number visual page from last year. We have added some questions and adapted the activities for K-2. Grades 3 – 12 will experience an adaptation of one of our favorite lessons from our 2015 summer camp curriculum. This activity asks students to read and understand an interesting graph without numbers. After students discuss the meaning of the graph, they will have opportunities to create their own graphs.

Content:  K-2: Factors, multiples, prime numbers, number relationships, representing numbers; 3-12: Graphical interpretation, graphical representation, represent and interpret data

Practices: All WiM2 tasks are rich in mathematical practices.

Day 3

When you Believe, Amazing Things Happen

Day 3 begins with a film showing students that the beliefs they have about themselves and their learning potential changes the way their brain works. K-2 day 3 is about understanding a graph without numbers. Students will experience a graph that has cute little emoji’s placed in order. After students interpret the graph they will have a chance to create graphs of their own. Grades 3-12 will work on a shapes task where they will first work visually on completing the pattern. After students share the different ways they see the pattern growing they will work to extend and generalize what they have made sense of.

Content:  K-2: Number line representation, graphical interpretation, represent and interpret data;  3-12: Number sense, number representation, algebraic thinking, generalization, pattern recognition, forming an algebraic expression, algebraic equivalence

Practices: All WiM2 tasks are rich in mathematical practices.

Day 4

Conjectures, Creativity and Uncertainty

Day 4 begins with a film that shares a very important message for all math learners, speed is not important in mathematics learning and success. K-2 will experience a visual and tactile task where they fold paper to make shapes. Grades 3-12 will experience a task we are really excited about. Students will explore an unsolved mathematics problem by generating number strings and making conjectures about the patterns they see. We have added links for you to find out more about this interesting problem and why they are called hailstone numbers. All Hail the Elephant!

Content:  K-2: Area, rectangles, squares, triangles, estimation, describing shapes and spaces, shape composition and decomposition; 3-12: Number sense, pattern recognition, generalization, forming conjectures, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of numbers
Practices: All WiM2 tasks are rich in mathematical practices.

Day 5

Engaging Our Visual Pathways

Day 5 starts with a film showing students the importance of thinking about maths visually. K-2 will make visual shapes by combining 4 isosceles right triangles following a few constraints. 3-5 will experience a visual and tactile task where they fold paper to make shapes. 6-12 will work on a very rich task that we call: Painting Youcubed. This task provides students with an opportunity to see and use cubic measures, connecting them with abstract mathematical expressions. You can easily extend this task beyond one class period and we have shared some ideas for doing that.

Content:  K-2: Triangles, shape composition and decomposition, describing shapes and spaces; 3-5: Area, rectangles, squares, triangles, estimation, describing shapes and spaces, shape composition and decomposition 6-12: Number sense, pattern recognition, area, volume, surface area, shapes, algebraic thinking, generalization, forming an algebraic expression, algebraic equivalence
Practices: All WiM2 tasks are rich in mathematical practices.

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