I came up with the idea to use Never Ending tasks during the 2013-2014 academic school year. I used to create an activity called "Get To This Number" for my students. I loved for students to do this on the first day of school as a group in a race. I also allow students to do it individually. To know more about Get To This Number you can click here. Once a student told me that they were done. I told them, you can't be done in "Get To This Number.". There isn't an end to the numbers that are possible. At that moment is when I thought of the name Never-Ending tasks.
What I like about these is they are great for early finishers. They are great for supplemental work when you are absent. When they are implemented as Never Ending Tasks students know they won't get done.
I remember when I taught 2nd-grade, something spontaneously came up and they wanted to see the teachers. They had people come by our room for about minutes. While leaving, she asked me if they needed more work than the three sentences I wrote on the board for them to do. I told her they wouldn't because they understood they can't say they are done with the work, because they'll never get done. When I returned, she was so surprised. She was said, "I can't believe not one of them said they were done." They worked so hard and focused so much on their work." When the norm is set-up for students to not get done, that's the behavior students exhibit.
In terms of quality, let's not downplay the many benefits of many Never Ending tasks:
Practice of anything is...practice. For instance, with "Get To It" students are doing meaningful work with operations. They are making number sentences in order to get to a number. The same concept is with any activity that they do. It is repetitive fluency/procedural practice.
When the norm is set-up and routines are in place that acknowledge and celebrate students' creativity in Get To It, then magical things happen. Students love to push their thinking, they love to make connections in Math to use different equations. The activity is opened-ended, so students really like to share their different equations.
Give Never-Ending Tasks a try in your classroom. It's quality work made simple.