Exploring the NCSM Website: Great Modeling Tasks in Three Acts

Regional News - Canada
September 2017

In the upcoming NCSM Winter Newsletter, the Regional Directors dive into areas of the NCSM website and resources that you might not have had time to explore. I have chosen to highlight the Three Act tasks.

As a Canadian, I really appreciate how helpful are the various resources available through NCSM, for all mathematics leaders and educators.  In my role supporting K-12 teachers of mathematics, I frequently make use of Three-Act Tasks.  Three-Act tasks, originally conceived by Dan Meyer, use the framework of a story to solve a problem using mathematical modeling.  I love how these tasks engage students in mathematical inquiry, beginning with noticing and wondering, framing a question, deciding what they need to know, then owning the solution process.

The NCSM website has a special page devoted to “Great Modeling Tasks in Three Acts”. Click on Leadership Resources, then click on Three Acts. If you are new to Three Act Tasks, you may wish to begin by reading the “Three Acts Explained” document at the bottom.  A handful of outstanding tasks are provided, most of which I have used and have found them to be very effective. I also encourage you to search for other math educators who have posted their collection of Three-Act tasks online.  A couple of good starting places are from Dan Meyer for middle and high school, and Graham Fletcher for Grades K-7.

What is unique to this NCSM resource is that it not only provides some tasks, but also provides supporting tools, such as an analysis tool to help one determine the quality of a three-act task. This same tool is also helpful for creating your own tasks, as well as describing the important things to have in mind when engaging students with a three-act task.

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