Sense-making and reasoning in the time of Corona Part II

In a recent blog post I urged teachers to focus on developing students’ sense-making and reasoning skills rather than adding new content.  I shared some personal favorites tools for doing this and today I would like to share a few more. is a teacher run blog that asks students to solve visual puzzles such as toothpicks puzzles, factor puzzles, place the correct operation to get a specific answer type of puzzles, and many more . I like that it uses different colors and offers extensions. They offer PDF versions of their puzzles as well, so you can print them or just use the site.  Some of the puzzles remind me of the 24 game, which my high school students loved, as a brain break. You can buy a set of cards, or just do what we did, and have students take turns writing 4 numbers for the class to make into 24. The rules are that every number has to be used exactly once to make 24 and you can use any operation or grouping symbols. Simply asking students why the game is called 24 and not 31, for example, is a fun thinking exercise. is a site put together by Dan Finkel and Katherine Cook, and I first learned about this site after watching Dan Finkel’s TED talk Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching and discovering Prime Climb – an activity made into a game that helps students understand factors and multiples, prime and composite numbers, and so much more. I have used the Prime Climb activity with teachers and undergraduate students with great success. It is engaging and generates great discussion when used with the prompts – What do you notice? What do you wonder? The website offers tasks, lessons, and problems that ask students to think deeply about the mathematics they are engaging with. and 3-act-math are both video puzzles that pose a problem for students to solve. Mathpickle videos have someone talk about the task at hand. The speaker is very engaging. 3-act-math videos are not narrated. Instead they show events and leave students at a cliff-hanger – the video starts right before the ball hits the hoop or the water overflows. Both are great for positioning students as sense-maker, since after the scenario is presented, students have to decide how information from the video impacts the math task. is all about justifying your answer. Students are given two scenarios and asked which one they prefer. There is no answer key to check so students have to use their best defense skills to convince their peers and their teachers that their choice works best for them. This site really highlights mathematics as multi-dimensional and creative rather than right or wrong or single-approach.

Have you used any of these in your classroom? Would you like more posts like this – reviews of 3-4 math websites, or something else? Tell us what would be most helpful right now. 

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