Beautiful Math

Curriculum ideas, Education for Life

Beautiful Math

Below is a post from our Intermediate teacher, Melissa Robinson, about an inspiring math lesson taken from Jo Boaler’s math education website, YouCubed.

It’s not uncommon to hear a few students say, “I don’t want to do math. I’m not good at it. I don’t like numbers.” At least, this is what I have heard and experienced in my classroom. However, by using a new math resource called YouCubed from Stanford University that inspires students to see math (and themselves) differently, I’m on a mission to change that stuck-mindset into a growth-mindset.

YouCubed offers innovative and well-researched lessons that provide students with the opportunity to use their creative gifts to solve problems. Last week, we tried out the first lesson in YouCubed’s Week of Inspirational Maths. Students first discussed what they find challenging about working in math groups, such as not getting a chance to voice their idea or being told that their idea isn’t good. After listing the challenges, students came up with different solutions so that everyone feels heard and valued.   This was a crucial part of the lesson, since working in groups to solve problems is an invaluable skill in both math and life. And it set us up for the next part of the lesson, which was an exciting inquiry activity called Four 4’s. After writing the numbers 1-10 on the whiteboard, students were asked to work in their teams to find every number from 1-10 using only four 4’s. Students had to use all four of their 4’s each time and they could use any operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.) they wanted. After a few minutes of struggling to find any equation, students started catching on. Teams became creative and started using square roots and fractions. Students were high-fiving each other, sharing ideas, and excitedly rushing to the front to write their equations on the whiteboard. By the end of the lesson, each group had contributed different ideas and as a class we had found equations using four 4’s for all the numbers 1-10. What was most exciting was seeing students who at the start of the activity wouldn’t even try and were convinced they couldn’t do it, and then with some help from friends find an equation that worked. And then they found another and another until our whiteboard was full.