Make Math Moments Academy › Forums › Full Workshop Reflections › Module 2: Engaging Students Using Problems That Spark Curiosity › Lesson 25: Five Practical Resources to Spark Curious Discussions › Lesson 25: Question & DIscussion
Tagged: @jon, @jon @kyle

Lesson 25: Question & DIscussion
Posted by Jon on May 1, 2019 at 11:48 amWhat is your biggest take away from the How to Start A Math Fight Lesson? What are other resources you use to create discussions in math class?
Victoria Murphy replied 2 weeks, 1 day ago 41 Members · 57 Replies 
57 Replies

I can’t decide which one I like better: Would you rather? or Math Before Bed? Both could generate great discussion even in 2nd grade. I could use the latter at the end of the day. I already do something like this, but I like the more open discussion.

The beauty is that you don’t have to pick only one… sometimes mixing them up can be really helpful!


I have been using the ebook Math Before Bed. I like it as a way to start class and gets kids talking. I haven’t necessarily linked the prompt to my actual lesson. How do you use these in your lessons? Are they part of the overall lesson? Are they the notice and wonder of the lesson? How much time do you usually take on these? I am interested in using headbands as a review for concepts taught. I like all of them. What are suggestions in planning a lesson and putting these to use?

This can certainly vary from classroom to classroom. They can be used as a great way to spiral in old content to bring back to the forefront or as a starter into the current days content. Decide on what your purpose is for that specific task / activity and you’ll have a better sense of when / where to use them.


I have used Rounds 2,3,5,6 in some capacities in the past. New ones to me are the Estimation and Headbands, both of which seem fantastic. Headbands is similar to Desmos Polygraphs that can also be great to link students virtually in a similar way but obviously I much prefer the inperson discussion. Would You Rather allows for some great deeper criticalthinking and reasoning as well, putting problems in “realworld” contexts that students may see more frequently. What I like about Estimation180 is that it is such a huge skill that we often don’t focus on, but can bolster a lot of important pieces with logic and reasoning. It can also get that student investment to see how close they get! In my class last week, at the end of class, students just randomly started doing bottle flips with Gatorade and were struggling with how much liquid was left in it. I think I might do your Flippity Flip Flip bottle estimation just to kick off a lesson since they were intrigued by it.

I like all of the resources and try to incorporate them throughout the year. Well, Math Before Bed is new. I’ll look more into it. I think I may be able to use it to build numeracy. They are all great for discussion, and each highlights a math habit I want my students to develop. For example, in Would You Rather, students sometimes have to balance the math answer with personal choice (my height in quarters in more than $225, but they’re heavier). Headbands encourages students to consider all types of numbers, which is essential, but difficult for 7th graders. It allows them to see that an answer of “no” to “Is it even?” doesn’t necessarily tell them what they think it does. They have to consider their own assumptions about numbers.

Glad to hear you find the resources valuable. Tossing them in for your lessons can be super helpful, too. Like creating your own lesson around a would you rather can be really helpful!


WODB is a goto for me if I need a starter. Two truths and a lie is awesome, and having students make their own can take an entire lesson. WYR is a new site to me, and I wish they had more for high school. Maybe I’ll look into putting some together; it’s a great structure to start a productive discussion.

@jonathan.lind Glad to have introduced a new resource for you and I’m sure John Stevens (the creator of WYRMATH) would welcome any new additions.


I haven’t ever heard of math fights but I love these ideas. I’ve done activities similar to rounds 2, & 3. I’m very curious about using estimation 180. I try to emphasize the skills of reasonableness, this is a great way to engage students into that type of thinking. I also like the math before bed idea as a parent, so cool. I feel like this could be dinner table math too. Of course these questions could be used as warmups and exit tickets. The Two truths and a lie is so versatile and I love the idea of kids creating the problems. I’m going to try each of these resources in the next couple of weeks.

I can’t decide which one I like the best! These are great ideas. The one that I can see myself being able to incorporate the most readily is two truths and a lie. I think that will really help me to get my students discussing mathematics. I also really like the idea of having them make their own. I am happy that you mentioned ThinkPairShare because I think that is a great way to get students into conversations in a safe way. My students are much more willing to answer and discuss with the whole class after checking in with their elbow partners.
I want to learn more about the Headbands strategy because I was having trouble hearing what was happening on the video but it looks like something that would be engaging for students.

Glad you’re finding the activities beneficial. For headbands, it is all about asking questions to others about what might be on your head. “Is it a number between 0 and 1?” Etc to finally guess what you have. It can be modified and used for any number of topics.


My colleague and I start our math class with a number talk every day (Data Talk on Monday and other more general math/number talks throughout the week). Some of our favourite go to’s include Estimation180, dot cards for subitizing, fraction talks, Splat (Steve Wyborney), WODB, and the list goes on…I absolutely can’t wait to add Math Before Bed!

Thank you for these great resources! I have heard of these in your podcast, but I haven’t had the chance to try these out with students. I shared with my teachers something similar to the “Which one doesn’t belong” that our Bridges Math curriculum provides to promote math talks and discussions in the classroom as well as YouCubed resources from Jo Boaler. I want to get some of the teachers I support to try Estimation 180 and Math before Bed.
I’m pretty convinced that I would like to begin every unit or new concept with a ThreeActTask, but, where in the unit would you encourage the use of the resources shared here today?

The specific resources shared here today can be helpful to spiral in past concepts for warm ups or to simply “change the pace” in your day to day math programming. The options are endless … it really just depends on how you see them coming together in your program!


I really liked all of them, and hope to use all of them in the future. I think I will probably start off with the Math Before Bed as a way to get my students used to doing something like this because so many of my students are way below grade level. I hope this will allow more students to take part and actually give thought to their answers instead of just saying something off the top of their head or not doing anything.

I love the idea of having the kids make their own challenges for each other. I am excited to try it!

Any time my students can challenge each other, they become way more invested in the math. I’m excited to try this more often!

These resources look very interesting and it’s great that they are there and prepared for us so we don’t have to come up with similar stuff on our own. I enjoyed the one about guessing the numbers (I’ve played with guessing places or names of people in my advisory but never thought about using it in math class, maybe even extend it to formulae or to complex numbers or trigonometric expressions that are equivalent and they have to find their “otherhalf”…)
I also enjoy the WYR questions, as it sparks a lot of curiosity and plenty of interest in solving the question.The estimations are good too and great icebreakers for math classes or even other similar classes. Thanks for sharing these resources!

Glad to hear it! You’ll notice that with our problem based units, we try to incorporate that curiosity as well as estimating right into the content specific lessons! Give them a go! 🙂


My student teacher from three years ago showed me most of these back then. I love the reminder to bring them back out often as they all get the students to communicate. I am very sad that for many years I did all the talking and the students tried to write notes and listen at the same time. My goal is for students to do more thinking and less listening to boring lectures for the remainder of my years teaching.
PS…my student teacher is now a colleague of mine who is taking this course with me! Shout out to Jorgelina Corral!!

Where can I find the download of Stories before Bed and the filled out placemat for the notes today?

They should be in the “materials” tab on the lesson page. If you can’t find them, we can dig a bit deeper for you.


Great goal and awesome to hear that you’re tackling the learning with Jorgelina!
This is the community to receive the support you need to put these goals into motion!


I really love the which one doesn’t belong activities, as the times I did it in my classroom it got students talking and defending their reasoning. Moreso, it’s nice that it can be applied to any lesson you have. For this same reason, I would like to try to implement two truths and a lie in my classroom as well, as I feel this would also spark conversation and get students talking about math.

Nice quick win! Great tool to have in your back pocket!


I have been using lots of these resources previously but they have been like random tries. Excited to start next year with regular engagement in these. The one your mentioned quickly but I dug a little deeper into is Clothesline Math. Over the last couple of year I have personally fell in love with number lines as it has made a huge impact on my personal confidence and identity as a “mathematician” : ). I am excited to try some double of single clotheslines for the Algebra topic I am working on right now.

Fantastic to hear! Being consistent with the mode of instruction can be helpful to build consistency and therefore students knowing that “this is how we do” in math class. Many of our units involve double number lines which can also help on this journey!


I am planning to use 2 truth and a lie tomorrow with my Grade 5 on ordering fractions and with my Grade 2 I will start using the math before bed straight away. Will keep the other websites in my favourites so I can look at them often when I search for ideas. Thanks a lot.

My biggest takeaway is this: Math fights/discourse is an important element that needs to be incorporated into my classroom. I really like “Which One Doesn’t Belong” and will use it as a cool down at the end of my class sessions. Since there are no wrong answers, it would give my students a boost to walk out of class every day with a win. Estimation180 and Would You Rather will also fit into my classroom quite nicely as number sense is a glaring weakness for almost all of my students.

I wrote down so many great ideas during this lesson. I can see myself using a lot of these as class warmups to get their brains working…and then sometimes letting those discussions lead into the entire lesson! I’m really excited to try these ideas this upcoming school year. I think my favorite might be Which One Doesn’t Belong, because there isn’t always a right answer. It really drives home the idea that the discussion is more important than the right answer.

Awesome to hear! Building mathematical discourse is so important and that routine can certainly help!


I really like the idea of the students creating their own “2 truths, 1 lie” statements as a group “worksheet”. This sounds awesome!
I also think the placement with the rounds is a great way to start each class with a quick problem of the day or “fight” of the day 🙂

I liked the would you rather and WODB. They seem the last amount of work to create and the most amount of mathematical discussion. They also don’t have a ton of writing involved which is a great start to class in a conversation based fashion. Talking energizes people and that can then carry over for the rest of the class.

Love all the resources! I have already started using WODB, WYR in my classroom. It’s great for Jon to include how to navigate through the recommended sites. I also love the bonus PDF. Thank you!

One takeaway I have is that the resources shared in this video all encourage student discourse. The type of discourse in the video is students making viable arguments, Critiquing others, and using evidence to back up claims. This seems more productive than a teacherled discussion.

Glad you picked up on that! Having student generated mathematical discourse is so powerful and can allow for the educator to act as a facilitator vs the teacher who is always doing the talking.

Yes exactly. The teacher is facilitating and still plays a very important role!



I really like the headband math fight at the beginning of the video. I would love to have my learning support students talk to each other about anything math! Some are so quiet and afraid of math that they don’t want to speak. Since I will be providing a pull out math course for those who are significantly below grade level this could be a fun way to get them interacting and feeling safe when talking about math.
WODB is a hard one for me! I want to know the correct answer in all areas of life. The open ended with multiple options would be hard for me work with. I may use it, just because I bet my students would really like it and they would most likely be able to talk me into any answer.
I really see using all of these resources in my classroom. I will be teaching 8th grade Alg 1A , Alg 1B and Math Apps in a pull out learning support environment, so this is all very practical and good stuff!!!
I have not had a math classroom in 7 years so my resources are out of style! I was thinking of using interactive notebooks, but that is not half as engaging as math fights or Would you Rather. I also like the 180 days of math before bed resources. thank you for including the resources and websites in the materials.

I loved the discourse and conversation happening with the activities. I want to try the headbands. This seems like some work upfront, but can be implemented with different topics. As the activity was unfolding I was thinking we could do this after discussing divisibility rules, vocabulary such as prime, composite, square numbers, also rational numbers/integers/absolute value when they are introduced. Everyone can participate and a little energizer activity of getting students moving. I tried polygraph activities with desmos, that had a similar strategy of asking yes no questions. This worked well for virtual and social distancing, but the headband and moving around the classroom would be a fun change.
I have used would you rather, which one doesn’t belong and estimation 180 as class openers. I have to look through Math Before Bed and two truths and a lie which are both new. Thank you for sharing all the resources in one place!

I have used WODB and Open Middle in my classroom with great results. I’m excited about these other resources! Thank you for putting them in one place!

I’m looking forward to using the Would You Rather Resources this fall. Thank you for sharing.

This past school year I wanted to do a professional development workshop for my teachers on increasing student discourse in the classroom. I googled ideas and up popped a video very similar to this but shorter in time. So I used the ideas Jon presented with the math teachers and they loved them! Other websites I have used during professional development include Steve Wyborney’s EstiMysteries (which can cover all levels of math) and Jo Boaler’s youcubed.org website. But as with everything on the web, I caution teachers to make sure what they are choosing has a purpose (much like Jon’s 4 criteria) and is just not a filler because kids need something to do.

Okay wait I love ALLLL of these! I can’t wait to start using them! I think I would use two truths and a lie and which one doesn’t belong the most. I need to comb through the websites more to make a Rolodex full of good options for my class!

I have used most of the mentioned websites at least once in my classes. I like the idea of using them as a Warm up to get the class started right away with Math discussion/justification in class.
I am planning on using Would you rather more in my College Algebra through Modeling class. I am hoping this will get the students more comfortable talk and justifying their math. This class is all based on the mathematical explanations to problems and not just the answer. This is a new concept for most students and they all come into this class with a very low skill set in how to do this. I feel the Would you rather math prompts are a good way to help students in this area.
I have not used two truths and a lie as math problem, I like the idea of having the students come up with their own problem.

I love math fights! Other teachers thought I was nuts, but I get it. I have used some of these resources before and love them. I value the additional ideas, and am thinking about how to incorporate some of them as stations where students would answer and build a given type of question, with some small direction that relates it to our current unit.
I like your 4 criteria, and that you included the ratio piece. That is important and not one I would have thought of until I was, once again, involved in a bad ratio.
Thank you for the resources!

I loved learning about all 6 rounds of Math Fight! I have used round 3 and round 2 before and am so excited to incorporate the other strategies this year. In particular, I really am excited about the Estimation 180 as I know the students will love seeing the reveal and answers after making their estimates. I also really like the MathBeforeBed.com for my own children and also for the classroom. In the video, you said that we could click a link for a free ebook, but I cannot seem to find it. I would love to have that for bedtimes if it is still available.
Thanks for these great resources!

This lesson has me SO excited to get back into my classroom! I have been working on implementing BTC and will be using boards a LOT, but I am loving these as the openers for the day. Of course when I saw the title and it said 5 resources, I automatically was thinking one different one per day. That of course won’t work with 6 and realistically would become predictable and potentially boring. I want to just mix it up and use what works best for the topic of the day. My only apprehension is that I won’t have enough time to find what I need as I try to work with making a new curriculum “fit” into the BTC way of teaching. I have seen TONS of similarities with what you two have presented and love seeing the lessons in action! Going into my 27th year I am excited for all the learning that will take place! Can’t wait to start some math fights. 😉

I’ve used the estimation 180 in my class but students are so resistant to doing the upper and lower part of the estimation. My answer paper has a place for them to explain their reasoning which they also do not want to do. But they enjoy the actual sharing their estimate with the class part. I tried the would you rather but they did not want to back up their answers with math. I think I will try it again and maybe have students partner up to figure out what they could do to back up and/or tweak their reasoning and answer.
Working with middle schoolers is a fine line. There are things a high school student will do and an elementarty student will do that a middle school student will not just because of the age. But hopefully as we try different things in class and students get used to backing up their answer it will help them. I might start with the which one does not belong as there is not one right answer for the prompt. As long as you have a reason you can be correct. Sounds like a safe place to start with self conscious middle school students. Plus builiding the community of the classroom as a safe place to share your thinking.

I’m constantly trying to get students to engage with each other in a productive way, but struggling to see a lot of progress. Using a daily warm up from wodb.ca or estimation180 or would you rather has take some time for students to get used to. Jon mentioned in the previous lesson that we’re looking for consistency over intensity, so i’m staying the course and continuing take the time to build the culture of mathematics discussion and debate from all these great visual resources.

Great perspective. Having warm ups related to the task context is helpful too so that is what we build into our units here:
learn.makemathmoments.com/tasks
Saves time and increases intentionality!


Love these resources! Have used a few of these before but definitely getting some new inspiration on how to use them.
Also, I don’t see the link to the free Math Before Bed ebook mentioned in the video. Am I missing something?

I like all the resources and have used WYR and What doesn’t belong but am excited to try Estimating 180. I like the headbands too. I also like the format of the Math Fight with rounds. I could see doing something like this on one of those awkward days right before a vacation, a Friday right after a test when you don’t want to start something new, at the beginning of the year or end of the year activity. Of course using each one individually as an opener or killing a few minutes at the end of a class are always useful.

Here is my typical day. I watch a video from the class and then turn around and implement something the next day. This time it was a “Would you rather” problem. Specifically, would you rather have a stack of quarters to the top of your head or $225. I assumed it would be a 15minute problem, but it took about thirty minutes. I find it so enjoyable to return to my first love and why I chose to be a math teacher – thinking critically and problemsolving. It ended up being a little bit like pulling teeth. It certainly took a while to get the kids going. However, I won at least one student over and it literally made my day! So much of what these resources can do is change the paradigm of our students. Too often math is only inside the four walls of a math classroom or at least that is what our students think. Resources like these build confidence no matter the student.
My takeaway is it takes time. The resources shared are all so good, many of which I was familiar with already. But to make it work, I must be persistent. Keep on keeping on. I also need to be flexible. A fifteenminute opener can turn in to a full class period and I need to take advantage of those teachable moments and get out of the way.

I really appreciate this lesson for the reminders of things that I have done and have lost track of this year. I have been feeling like I am just constantly catching up, for the last 3 months.
I have always loved, WODB and use it often. BUT, I have never tried the missing a piece ones! I LOVE that and will be trying it this week.
I have also done WYR, but I never get the discussion that I am looking for. So – I think a Think, Pair Share will also work with this and I like the prompt of “show your thinking”. I could also see this as a “create your own” type day, in small groups or pairs and then do a museum walk to solve each others.
I have also used Estimate 180, but this is one that I dropped during COVID and have not gone back to. I will definitely be going back! The liquids and “series” of estimates look amazing and I like the idea of doing a week in a row to connect them all.
Finally, I have tried Two Truths and a Lie before, but again, have not tried to have them create one. Again, this would be a great to do as a group and walk around. I will be adding this to my plan book.
I want to make sure that I get started on trying these more in my class so that when I have a half class left or an early release day, those short classes that we run in to could be great times to have the kids make their own and then do museum walks.
Thank you for the reminder of all these great activities!