Not “Just Another Brick in the Wall”

  • Not “Just Another Brick in the Wall”

    Betina A. Zolkower and Laurie H. Rubel
    A vignette from a middle school classroom discusses how “low threshold, high ceiling” number puzzles will intrigue and interest students and teachers.
    “Low threshold, high ceiling” tasks (McClure 2011) are accessible to diverse learners; invite a wide range of approaches; and hold the potential to further challenge, strengthen, and extend everyone’s mathematical reasoning. We present a family of Brick Pyramid problems (Wittmann 1995; Selter 1997; Müller 2003) as examples of “low threshold, high ceiling” tasks. By eliciting the practices of noticingand describing patterns and then symbolizing and generalizing those patterns, Brick Pyramid problems hold great potential for engaging students in “algebraizing” (Freudenthal 1991).