Last week, in our 20 minutes after block, I had the Algebra 2 kids take out the big whiteboards and work in groups of four to do the four 4's problem. I instructed them to try and create math equations using only four 4s and the operations to equal 0-25. They got right to work and I heard some great conversations. The whiteboards were great. All four kids working all over the place.

Round 2: I learned that 20 minutes wasn't long enough to do all 26 equations, so I made changes. I was only going to have my second class do equations totaling 0-20. Okay. Oh, yeah, and Back to School parent night is this Thursday, so I will keep a board to show parents.

My mistake....to tell the kids.

Before I introduced the problem, I told the kids I want to keep one for back to school night. Then, I explained the problem and they were slow to start. They were afraid. They felt they had to be neat and work in order. I told them they didn't need to do it in order. Only one person in each group was writing. The others were thinking and sharing, but only one person actually writing. They would carefully erase if they didn't get the next consecutive number.

Oy, what had I done. I told to forget it, dive in, be messy, work out of order, make mistakes. Nope, they were too perfect.

Live and learn. Here are two examples:

By the way, all the groups got stuck at 19. One boy came back after school to ask if he could use a factorial. I said sure and he did it = 4! - 4 - (4/4) At least he was still thinking about it.

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