Mathematical Mindsets Chapter 5

Mathematical Mindsets Chapter 5

Wowzers…I feel like the last few weeks have been a time warp of wedding planning and summer school, and I have been so bad about keeping my posts a priority, but I must say, all the wedding planning is exciting!! I have a growth mindset that I can improve my blogging though, and I’m determined to stay on track with this book study.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chapters 3 and 4, and I hope you check out some of the other bloggers thoughts on key takeaways. Chapter 3 shared the importance of teaching the beauty and creativity in mathematics, and Chapter 4 shared some fantastic games and activities for building number sense.

Creating Rich Mathematical Tasks

My biggest takeaway from Chapter 5 was that it is in our hands to ensure we are providing our students with rich, engaging mathematical tasks. Dr. Boaler shared 6 cases of mathematics instruction that hooked the learners by piquing their interest and presenting a challenge that they were determined to solve, almost as though the math problems were brain teasers!

My favorite of these was the number talk on 18 x 5 that Dr. Boaler conducted at a staff meeting for a modern, tech-savvy online course startup company, Udacity. As people shared their methods for finding the product, Dr. Boaler drew out the visuals of their thinking on the whiteboard table. She shares that the buzz of excitement in that room, and in any of our math classes when experiencing a task like this, is that “most people…have never realized numbers can be so open and number problems can be solved in so many ways.”
So how do we incorporate this magic and wonder into our elementary and secondary classrooms?!

3 Tips to implement:


Ask the question before teaching the method. (pg. 81)
Dr. Boaler acknowledges that most of us are provided a curriculum from which to teach. She spends so much time in this chapter, however, giving examples of how we can modify the WAY in which we introduce the concepts so that kids have a brain teaser/math challenge approach to spark curiosity. Dr. Boaler suggests giving the students a challenging problem that incorporates the concept in a real, meaningful way, without first telling the students the process to solve it. Give them time to try things, brainstorm, and discuss first. Doing so will make the introductions of formulas and algebraic properties so much more meaningful for the kids once we do introduce them.


Open math tasks to encourage multiple methods, pathways, and representations. (pg. 77)
Find ways to open up math problems to multiple avenues of success, such as the 18 x 5 number talk. I can’t wait to revisit my math curriculum and see where I can do this, and I am definitely thinking of starting the year with number sense activities like this. I think these are PERFECT ways to introduce and begin using the CCSS Math Practices.


Add visual components.
Visualizing our thinking as well as the thinking of others, and discussing the models, is so valuable to our understanding of complex mathematics concepts. The more we can provide this for our kids, the better!

Thanks for sticking with me! I hope you can apply some of these strategies to your teaching to help make math more exciting and meaningful for our kids! Don’t forget to check out the other thoughts in the link up below, and please comment and share how you might incorporate these strategies! I’d be particularly interested in any 5th grade/upper elementary insights!!


  1. Yay, Lorraine! So glad you've joined us! (Can't wait to hear more about wedding plans. . .) Great takeaways, I loved the 18 x 5 problem, too!

  2. Great post! Good luck with all that you have going on!

    I loved the Udacity section as well! I've been doing Number Talks in my classroom over the past week and it's so neat to see how they're thinking!

    1. That's awesome I can't wait to try Number Talks once school starts! Do you use any sentence frames to get them started or anything?

  3. I like how you connected the Standards of Mathematical Practice. These are great habits of mind that can help support mathematical mindset.

    1. Thanks! Yes, they definitely give purpose to the number talks!