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Elements of MathHooks


Numerous studies show that humans learn best through their sense of sight. MathHooks aims to provide students with  "visuals" that allow them to investigate the standard(s) being studied. The goal is to minimize language barriers so that students can focus their energy and inquiry toward the mathematical concepts at hand. This approach aims to provide the type of low-floor/high ceiling problems that engage students in the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices. This TED Talk illuminates the benefits of visual learning and the incredible results of "teaching without words" and was a major inspiration of MathHooks.

Productive Struggle

Math hooks challenge students to think critically about math ideas they have yet to learn, creating an opportunity for productive struggle. The process of productive struggle strengthens students' capacities to persevere, ask questions when confronted with failure and become creative problem solvers. The benefits of productive struggle are summarized in this article  However, it was my personal experience witnessing the benefits of productive struggle in my math classes that inspired me to create MathHooks. My hope is that this site will promote the use of productive struggle in every middle school math classroom. 


MathHooks aim to convert traditional math classes into 21st century, student-centered classrooms. Hooks encourage students to work in groups and to think critically about new math concepts. Hooks also allow teachers to step away from the center of the room and to, instead, circulate amongst student groups listening for ideas, offering valuable feedback and providing inquiries to help groups move beyond barriers. MathHooks promote ideas and participation over right answers and rote memorization of algorithms. The student-centered culture fostered by these values inspires creativity, collaboration and critical thinking, all of which are the staples of a 21st century math education.

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The videos added to some hooks are not an essential element of the hook. Instead, the videos are real-world applications that are connected (sometimes loosely) to the concepts at play in the standard. The videos are not teaching tools such as those found on sites like Khan Academy or LearnZillion. Instead, they are there to act as another tool for engagement. Students see how the mathematics they are learning can be used in the real world, from encoding messages using translations to the musicality and mystery of the number pi. In short, the videos are for fun. Enjoy.