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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 having students do this on the first day of school as a group in a race, and I also allowed them to do it individually. However, when a student once told me they were done, I explained that they couldn't be done in "Get To This Number" because there isn't an end to the possible numbers. It was at that moment that I thought of the name "Never-Ending tasks."

What I like about these tasks is that they are great for early finishers to practice with whatever content or skill you would like. It is also great to have when you are absent, to ensure that students have enough work to keep them busy with something productive. When implemented as Never-Ending Tasks, students understand that they won't ever truly finish.

I recall a spontaneous event during my time teaching 2nd grade when visitors wanted to see the teachers, so they sent people to our room for about 30 minutes to watch our students. Quickly, I wrote some Never-Ending tasks on the board before leaving. While leaving out of the room, the substitute asked if my students needed more work than the three sentences I wrote on the board. I assured her they wouldn't because they understood they couldn't claim they were done, as they would never truly finish. As I expected, when I returned she said, "I can't believe not one of them said they were done." They worked diligently and focused on their tasks, and I knew that setting the norm for students not to finish was reflected in their behavior.

In terms of quality, let's not downplay the many benefits of Never-Ending tasks:

1. Practice: Practice is practice. For instance, with "Get To It," students engage in meaningful work with operations, creating number sentences to reach a target number. This concept applies to any activity they undertake, offering repetitive fluency and procedural practice.

2. Creativity and Connections: When the norm is established, and routines celebrate students' creativity in Never-Ending tasks, magical things happen. Students love pushing their thinking, making connections in Math, and using different equations. The open-ended nature of the activity encourages students to share their varied equations.

Give Never-Ending Tasks a try in your classroom; it's quality work made simple.


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