Projects appeal to educators because great ones get students to do the following:
- Read critically
- Write for explanation
- Be steeped in inquiry and critical thinking
- Make strategic choices
- Take ownership of their learning
- Viewing from multiple entry points
- Conversing about the discipline using academic language
Good math tasks do all of these things as well. In fact, the process involved in a math task is much like in a Project; the primary difference is size and scope (math tasks may take 1-2 class periods). Generally speaking, a flow of a math task goes like this:
- Problem-posing: Students are launched into the problem scenario. A prescription for a solution is NOT included.
- Students working and teachers supporting: After some individual think time, students work in pairs or groups to solve the problem. The teacher supports, as needed with hints, workshops, helpful resources, etc.
- Whole-class sense-making: Students present their solutions in some form. The teacher asks guiding questions, prompts generalizations and promotes connections and synthesis.
Since a Math Units is a collection of carefully sequenced math tasks, the process described above repeats many times in a Math Unit, each time extending students’ understanding in new ways.