Anchor Tasks in the Elementary Classroom

Solve: 5,146 - 2,598

Use the materials available to solve this problem.

Keep track of your thinking and problem-solving methods in your math journal.

Instructional Best Practices

Anchor Tasks Support Inquiry

Student voice and choice

Questions and concepts

Collaborative work

Strategic thinking

Authentic investigations

Student responsibility

Students as knowledge creators

Interaction and talk

Teacher as coach/model

Materials Needed for an Anchor Task

1. One problem - generally the first "LEARN" in the lesson from Math in Focus

2. Manipulatives - concrete materials that may or may not be used

3. Student journals - students recording their thinking as they work to solve a problem.

4. Chart Paper or Document Camera or Smart Board- a place to collect student methods at solving a problem.

5. Community of learners ready to share and discuss their thinking

Anchor Tasks in Action

What is the surface area of this rectangular prism?

5th Grade Video

1st Grade Video

Choosing a Problem

Yeap Ban Har says: Good tasks allow the attainment of learning outcomes and allow teachers to challenge advanced learners even as he takes care of the rest of the students.


- one problem that can be solved over an extended period of time.

- must have a specific goal in mind

- concise in nature

- 15 minutes is a target timeframe.

- an entry point for all students

- multiple methods to find the solution.

- concrete materials

-typically the first LEARN of a lesson from MIF

Teacher Role

Launch the problem.

Students can work independently or in small groups, depending on your goal.

Support and encourage students through questioning:

  • Is there another way you can do that?
  • How do you know?
  • What have you discovered?
  • What other choices do you have?
  • How are these similar?
  • How are these different?
  • Where can you find that answer?
  • What do you find difficult or challenging?
  • Describe……. Explain…… Tell………. List……..
  • Restate-“Can you tell me what he said?”

Keep tabs on methods students are using.

Strategically plan how to uncover students solutions during the share.

Share Out

Look for student work that shows:

  • visual representations  
  • use of algorithms
  • written explanations

Reveal students answers/methods is a strategic manner. Basic to most complex.

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