Rich Math Task and Number Talk…All in One!

As I have been out and about, I have seen and heard some fantastic Number Talks occurring at all grade levels. Thank you to those of you who are daring greatly in your classrooms and giving your students opportunities to think out loud!

If you are a high school teacher and are trying to figure out a topic for a Number Talk in your classroom, Squares Upon Squares might be one to try. Sometimes a pattern problem is a great segue into the more traditional Number Talk.

Maybe you aren’t ready to use this problem as a Number Talk; perhaps use it as a Rich Math Task instead and watch where this takes your students. Just in case you are wondering what a Rich Math Task is, I thought I’d include a few ideas from people far smarter than me, the folks from NRICH.

  • It is easy to get started but also has the potential to be taken to high levels of mathematics (what NRICH terms ‘low threshold, high ceiling‘)
  • It has more than one answer
  • It is ‘open-ended’, in the sense that although there are some answers, you can go on asking, and pursuing, your own questions
  • The way to go about solving the problem is not immediately obvious
  • It can be approached in many different ways
  • It requires you to use a range of knowledge and skills
  • It leads to generalizations
  • It is non-threatening (perhaps linked to the fact everyone can begin to have a go)



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