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Math: Anchor Tasks

An anchor task is a problem given to students at the beginning of a math block that provides an opportunity to activate prior knowledge, requires students to collaborate and ask questions of each other, and promotes an environment for students to productively struggle and persevere in problem solving.  Purposeful planning for this task is done by the teacher so that students can begin to construct their own knowledge on new learning before direct instruction is introduced. During this time, which should last approximately 10-12 minutes, students are encouraged to try various strategies through concrete, pictorial, or abstract modalities, in order to create multiple retrieval points for information.  While students are collaborating the teacher acts as facilitator by posing questions to guide thinking.  At the conclusion of the task students may or may not arrive at the anticipated answer which helps the teacher determine the starting point for direct instruction.

The intention of the videos below is to provide examples of how instruction can look at various levels.  Teachers are encouraged to adapt strategies seen in the videos to fit the needs of their own classroom.

 

11th Grade Example

  • How does the teacher encourage conversation and discussion?
  • How does the teacher ask questions to facilitate thinking?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to persevere?
  • How does the teacher hold students accountable for collaborating?
  • What is the teacher's role during the anchor task?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to use their prior knowledge to work through the learning task?
 

6th Grade Example

  • How does the teacher encourage conversation and discussion?
  • How does the teacher ask questions to facilitate thinking?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to persevere?
  • How does the teacher hold students accountable for collaborating?
  • What is the teacher's role during the anchor task?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to use their prior knowledge to work through the learning task?


 

 

3rd Grade Example

  • How does the teacher encourage conversation and discussion?
  • How does the teacher ask questions to facilitate thinking?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to persevere?
  • How does the teacher hold students accountable for collaborating?
  • What is the teacher's role during the anchor task?
  • How does the teacher encourage students to use their prior knowledge to work through the learning task?