Skip to main content

Mindset Mathematics: Visualizing and Investigating Big Ideas, Grade 3

Mindset Mathematics: Visualizing and Investigating Big Ideas, Grade 3

Jo Boaler, Jen Munson, Cathy Williams

ISBN: 978-1-119-35870-1

Jul 2018, Jossey-Bass

256 pages

Select type: Paperback




Engage students in mathematics using growth mindset techniques

The most challenging parts of teaching mathematics are engaging students and helping them understand the connections between mathematics concepts. In this volume, you'll find a collection of low floor, high ceiling tasks that will help you do just that, by looking at the big ideas at the third-grade level through visualization, play, and investigation.

During their work with tens of thousands of teachers, authors Jo Boaler, Jen Munson, and Cathy Williams heard the same message—that they want to incorporate more brain science into their math instruction, but they need guidance in the techniques that work best to get across the concepts they needed to teach. So the authors designed Mindset Mathematics around the principle of active student engagement, with tasks that reflect the latest brain science on learning. Open, creative, and visual math tasks have been shown to improve student test scores, and more importantly change their relationship with mathematics and start believing in their own potential. The tasks in Mindset Mathematics reflect the lessons from brain science that:

  • There is no such thing as a math person - anyone can learn mathematics to high levels.
  • Mistakes, struggle and challenge are the most important times for brain growth.
  • Speed is unimportant in mathematics.
  • Mathematics is a visual and beautiful subject, and our brains want to think visually about mathematics.

With engaging questions, open-ended tasks, and four-color visuals that will help kids get excited about mathematics, Mindset Mathematics is organized around nine big ideas which emphasize the connections within the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and can be used with any current curriculum.


Low Floor, High Ceiling Tasks

Youcubed Summer Camp

Memorization vs. Conceptual Engagement

Mathematical Thinking, Reasoning and Convincing

Big Ideas

Structure of the Book

Activities for Building Norms

Encouraging Good Group Work

Paper Folding: Learning to Reason, Convince, and Be Skeptical

Big Idea 1: Solving Problems with Data

Visualize: Tongues, Tails, and In Between

Play: Inspector Graph-It

Investigate: Data Tells Us About Ourselves

Big Idea 2: Thinking Around Shapes

Visualize: Get Your Arms Around It

Play: Shapes on a Plane

Investigate: Shape and Not a Shape

Big Idea 3: Thinking in Equal Groups

Visualize: Sharing Crackers

Play: Dozens of Dice

Investigate: Playing with Pairs

Big Idea 4: Tiling to Understand Area

Visualize: Cover Up

Play: A Whole New Alphabet

Investigate: Sharing an Area

Big Idea 5: Seeing Multiplication as Area

Visualize: Rods Around

Play: Squares and Near-Squares

Investigate: Connecting Area and Perimeter

Big Idea 6: Understanding Half

Visualize: I Spy ½

Play: Spotting ½

Investigate: The Many Shapes of ½

Big Idea 7: Seeing Fractions, Parts, Wholes, and Forms

Visualize: Seeing Parts and Wholes

Play: Cover, Cut, and Sort

Investigate: Taking a Fractional Walk

Big Idea 8: Being Flexible with Numbers

Visualize: How Many Do You See?

Play: How Close to 100?

Investigate: Tile and Table Patterns


Centimeter Dot Paper

Isometric Dot Paper

Grid Paper

Dot Paper

Grid Paper