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ERIC Number: EJ1074929
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Not "Just Another Brick in the Wall"
Zolkower, Betina A.; Rubel, Laurie H.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v21 n2 p84-89 Sep 2015
"Low threshold, high ceiling" tasks 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. In this article, the authors present a family of Brick Pyramid problems as examples of "low threshold, high ceiling" tasks. By eliciting the practices of noticing and describing patterns and then symbolizing and generalizing those patterns, Brick Pyramid problems hold great potential for engaging students in "algebraizing" (Freudenthal 1991). Brick pyramids, like other such "low threshold, high ceiling" tasks, make it possible to engage all students in framing, solving, and discussing the same problem. In the hands of a teacher who can manage the expected diversity of approaches and support the sharing and exchange of ideas, such an arrangement can maximize opportunities for students to learn, not only from their teacher, but also from each other.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A