I first heard the term Low Threshold – High Ceiling ( LTHC) tasks a few years ago in an afterschool workshop on getting students talking in socials and science. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, I was a first-year teacher and getting my feet wet with so many things it was too much at the time. In the past couple of months I’ve finally been able to dive into the idea especially in math. LTHC tasks fit a UDL classroom and the RTI model they provide entry points for all students and can be as simple as a number of the day. These tasks have an entry point for every student in your class which is my favourite thing, they need very few skills to get started! Any student can be part of these tasks and students can extend their thinking in multiple directions and find many complexities in the activity. There is literally something for everyone! It’s a mathematical buffet! This type of task has been highly engaging for my students especially when we combine them with the Building Thinking Classrooms approach. Today we approached one that connected to a story many of my students already knew. This problem asked a simple question that could be answered in so many ways! We ran out of time to finish looking at every possible solution or strategy. My class was divided into 10 groups and every group had their own strategy, drawing pictures, tables of values, equations and lists. Each group had an idea and a strategy to share. My students love this type of problem and I have posted today’s problem along with sample student solutions. As a teacher these are rapidly becoming some of my favourite things that I do in my classroom, and we do this type of problem a few times a week. My student’s math mindset has really grown using this type of task, my reluctant mathematicians eagerly engage in LTHC activities and ask when we can do one again. For me it’s not about the math skill students are building in these tasks, it’s the growth in our problem-solving skills and mindset. When we do these tasks my classroom is full of activity and conversation, students are excited to be learning and trying these. In the last couple weeks, I’ve heard fewer and fewer “is this right” or “what do we do” type of questions but we are getting a lot of “adults aren’t answer keys” . Our math culture is changing, math is no longer boring, hard, or predictable, students look forward to the LTHC tasks or other problem-solving tasks. My students tell me they feel confident working on this type of task and they like being able to discuss their ideas with others and think as a team. LTHC tasks are a tool I will keep using as I continue to change the math culture in my classroom.
For those that want to know more I recommend Reading:
Low Threshold High Ceiling – An Introduction https://nrich.maths.org/10345
Creating A Low Threshold High Ceiling Classroom – https://nrich.maths.org/7701