Non-Curricular Tasks

Time to be a little inspirational

After our first hour of school, math for the rest of the week consisted of non-curricular tasks and videos from YouCubed’s week of inspirational math for middle school.


  • Day 1: Believe in Yourself video, 100 numbers to get kids talking (Sara Van Der Werf)
  • Day 2: Brains Grow and Change video, Four 4s
  • Day 3: Speed is not Important video, Number Visuals

After a brief pause (you know, weekends and such!), we resumed our week of inspirational math. I had a student teacher observing this week, so I really wanted to make it good!

  • Day 4: The Importance of Struggle video, One Cut Geometry
  • Day 5: Strategies for Learning Mathematics, Emoji Graphs

Reflections on this week

One of the highlights was this comment – “The math hurts my brain, but it was fun. I like it.” Yes! I am most definitely going to do name tents in future years. What a great way to connect with the kids and see how they are feeling about what is going on!

After watching “Speed is Not Important”, one of the students asked, “If speed isn’t important, why do teachers give timed tests?” It really reminded me of Peter Liljedahl talking about evaluation being a double-edged sword. We evaluate what is important to us, and we can say some things until our faces are blue, if our actions don’t match our words, our students aren’t going to believe us. I’m not sure how well I conveyed that in my answer back in the tiny box, but hopefully, he’ll see that for me, speed in math is NOT a thing.

Other thoughts

  • Four 4s is always so much fun. The kids got really creative! I let them use exponents and factorials because, why not?
  • I think I need to improve the way I set up one-cut geometry and number visuals. The students had a lot of fun, but I think I can preface it in a way that makes it an even strong activity. Maybe. I’ll work on it!
  • I certainly learned a lot about the students for the Emoji graphs. Clearly animé and technology are *important* to these kiddos!
  • I DEFINITELY need to schedule math talks at different times from my math blocks, and I need longer math blocks. I forgot to do the math talks a few times, and often ran out of times for activities.

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