Engaging Students in 3 Act Tasks

Time flies when you are having fun, and I have been doing just that! Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to learn from some incredible educators. During the summer (Yes, this post is long overdue.), I traveled across Georgia working with 3rd grade teachers facilitating the 2014 Summer Academies. What they didn’t know is how much they were truly teaching me!

At the end of one of my sessions I had this note…. and how beautiful it was….

How AWESOME is this Ah-Ha moment?

So many times in my career, I have heard, “My students aren’t ready for this.” or my favorite, “My students can’t do this.” My challenge is always…Give it a try. More times than not, your students will knock your socks off when they are given the opportunity to make sense of problems and reason abstractly and quantitatively. (Standards for Mathematical Practice #1 & #2)

Am I saying to just hand students incredibly difficult problems and walk away? Definitely not, but I am saying that if we are methodical with our tasks (which provide an engaging context) and questioning, we will see our students begin to soar.

If you haven’t heard of 3 Act Tasks or Patient Problem Solving, I STRONGLY encourage you to do so! You won’t be sorry. These types of tasks provide an engaging contextual problem presented in form of a picture or video that hooks students. Students don’t even realize they are in a “math” classroom. It provides the cognitive dissonance that motivates students to want to know the answer. And better yet… They are totally student inquiry based. Students drive their instruction.

Some of the beauty….

Part of Act 1: Students posing questions about things that they wonder…. (while some are not “mathematical”… how awesome is it for 5th grade students to be this ENGAGED?)

Part of Act 2: Students ACTIVELY ENGAGED in problem solving. Just imagine some of the conversations going on during this time. AWESOME stuff!

Act 3…. The Reveal

Get ready to see faces like this!

Go check them out at…CCGPS Frameworks! You’ll begin to see that “Students are smarter than we give credit.”

Learn more about 3 Act Tasks and Patient Problem Solving from the source Dan Meyer, and some others who have brought 3 Acts into the elementary world Graham Fletcher, Mike Wiernicki, and Jenise Sexton. If your still hungry for more… you’ll find some more great information in the CCGPS Effective Instructional Practice Guide.

About Lisa Anglea

Wife. K-5 Math Coach. Lifelong Learner
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One Response to Engaging Students in 3 Act Tasks

  1. Teresa Armstron says:

    I am doing an action research project on 3 Act lessons in primary grades. I have tried MANY in my first grade class this year! I would love to here all about your lessons! Have you done any in first grade?


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