Throwdown Thursday - Using Math Videos

Happy 4th of July to those of you in the USA! I am linking up with Erin at I'm Lovin Lit for her brand new linky....

Ever since I first heard about this linky I was super excited because I plan on using more interactive notebooks this year and I am always on the look out for tricks, tips and pics!

For the last 2 years I have been working on developing and implementing Inquiry-Based math lessons. I have been part of 2 math networks, spent a lot of hours with our math consultants and watched, developed, modelled and reflected on many, many, many math lessons.

Over the last 2 years a big part of the discussion and planning was based on how to get the kids hooked on the math lesson. When I was teaching Grade 2/3 the focus was on building a narrative and asking the kids for their help in solving a problem. The narrative had to be personal, involve minimal pictures and text.

Here is an example of a narrative I used:

Okay guys, tonight Emma is having a sleepover and they will be doing some crafts. She says she needs the color pencils only all of the color pencils are in Gillian's room. You see, one time when they were cleaning their rooms they decided to put them all together in one of the drawers in the storage tower, you know like the drawers I have on my desk, only taller and on wheels. Does anyone else have one of those at home? Okay, but Gillian said she doesn't want all of Emma's friends using her stuff cause they will just break them and then when she needs them they won't be sharp. The girls decided to split the color pencils back up. They counted them and there are 84 in total. Only Emma said that when they put them together she had more than Gillian because she had a package like this and Gillian didn't, so she said she gets more.

So how many should each girl get if they have 84 and Emma needs 18 more than Gillian?

The kids did buy into these narratives, they would ask me on the Monday how did it work out, how many did they each take, how was the sleepover etc.

The problem for me was making up stories constantly and asking for help solving problems that I should probably just have been able to figure out myself - some of my smarter kiddos started to catch on that I shouldn't need their help and that maybe this wasn't completely true.

So I was very happy this year when the focus shifted from developing narratives to presenting situations and having students solve a problem or prove or disprove an answer. They love prove or disprove! They love situations that ended with "Is he right" or "Is this the only answer".

One of the best ways to hook students into these inquiry based problems is by using videos/pics to hook them.

Here are some of my favorites:

Charlie's Gumballs from 101qs

Lebron's Headband from 101qs

The 101qs website has a lot of great picture prompts!

There are a ton of videos from Dan Meyer, here is in an awesome TED talk discussing students and their disengagement with math.

He has incredible lessons, based on simple pictures or videos and prompts. Check these out:

And of course my favorite (I know I shared it before) Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock!! So many combinations to ponder!! And you could even test the 75% theory!!

Hope some of this was helpful to you. You should really check out some of those links - they have been super engaging for my students and are so easy to modify or extend and a lot of the work is already done for you just by clicking on the video or picture!!

Okay, one last video, this was shared with us at a math workshop, I want all of you to try it and report back : ) !!



  1. I LOVE the Dan Meyer "three acts" site! Have you seen the leaky faucet one? Super engaging!

  2. We would love to have you join another blog hop and enter an awesome laminator giveaway!
    A Teacher Without a Class

  3. Thank you so much for posting these ideas! I had to laugh when I read your post, I've often used made-up narratives like your "pencil problem" and my students can always spot the fake ones! What a great idea to use a picture or video as a prompt for discussion. I'm excited to check out the 101qs site. Thanks again!

  4. Flex Mex is making me hungry!


  5. Thank you for sharing the 101 Questions website! Great ideas!

    Grade 4 Buzz

  6. I <3 Big Bang Theory! :-P Thanks for all the great resources, as usual!!
    ideas by jivey
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  7. This was a great post and perfect timing for me as I am attempting more inquiry based learning in my classroom as well. Thanks for all of the great resources!


  8. love love love love love love
    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    This is EXACTLY what I am trying to wrap my mind around for next year and how I want to do math. This is why you gave me such good advice for my workshop!! I need to pick your brain!!!! I can't wait to watch these (when I don't have 3 kids running circles around me!)

    Collaboration Cuties

    1. those hearts look weird. sorry. they were made with love

  9. Great ideas here! And I am NOT trying that flex mex :) It looked delicious but I'll stick to the circle!!


  10. OMG.. I'm ready for my hexaflexa burrito. That thing is AWESOME! Your kiddos are so lucky to get exposure to such awesome critical thinking activities. I absolutely LOVE the prove/disprove method - and what a way to shape their mathematical minds and prepare them for college math and beyond. I mean.. WOW!
    :) Erin
    I'm Lovin Lit


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