Discussion Starters for Math Problem Solving

Rated 4.91 out of 5, based on 1107 reviews
1.1k Ratings
Angela Watson
Grade Levels
K - 12th, Homeschool, Staff
Formats Included
  • PDF
15 pages
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Angela Watson


BEST SELLER!! This product has 14 printable cards with question stems and prompts TEACHERS can ask during problem solving activities to promote critical thinking skills. By integrating these open-ended questions into your daily math instruction and routines, you can help students:

• Make sense of mathematics

• Learn and apply mathematical language and vocabulary

• Develop a wide variety of flexible strategies for problem solving

• Strengthen reasoning skills

• Solve problems effectively and efficiently

• Explain strategies and solutions

• Justify their answers using drawings and models they've created

I've organized over 150 questions into 14 cards you can use to facilitate conversations with and between students during problem solving. The question stems and sentence stems are aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the domain "Model and Reinforce Mathematical Practices" which appears for every grade level.

In this item, you'll receive a cover card, CCSS mathematical practices card, and cards with questions for

• Preparing to solve problems

• Stimulating students’ thinking

• Active listening

• Choosing strategies

• Analyzing strategies

• Responding when students get stuck

• Assisting students in talking to one another

• Building on student responses in group conversations

• Responding supportively to incorrect/incomplete answers

• Pushing student thinking on incorrect/incomplete answers

• Selecting and analyzing answers

• Summing up/reflecting on math work

You can print the cards onto card stock or mount them on construction paper, then cut them apart and store them on an “o” ring. Another idea is to keep the pages in your plan book or as a file on your computer. Use the cards to help you plan your math lessons, and reference them during your conversations with students as needed.

The questions can be used during any math lesson or activity at any grade level. Some of the best times for facilitating conversations about math include whole-class math talks, number talks, math chats, mental math and mental computation lessons, complex multi-step word problem lessons, math games, small group math instruction, math workshop, math centers, math stations, math tubs, and math journals.

When using the question stems and prompts during math problem solving activities, you can use just one or two questions and have students delve deeply into them through written reflections or oral discussions. Or, you might use many of the questions in a single lesson as you facilitate a discussion. The download includes 5 pages of tips for having math conversations about problem solving.

Download the free preview to learn more about the cards and how they can be used!


See what other teachers are saying!

Always struggled with questions to ask that would not lead students, so this resource looks great. Love how it is broken up into the different stages of inquiry math! - Myka Hang

Wow, what a range of questions! There were question cards for EVERY step of the lesson! I loved that you also included language that the kids can use with each other. Thank you! - Nicole Obregon

Angela, your products are always top-notch! I have been a fan for years, bought both your books and I am so glad you are developing all these resources which you had in your classroom. I had a walk-through the other day while I was working on these math discussions, and they were so impressed. Thanks so much and keep it up--I will be buying up your partner games as I can afford them! - Geraldine K.

These really helped me make my math workshop better! I will be back to buy additional licenses for the rest of the teachers I work with. - Thinking Out Loud

Saved me time and more creative than my product would have been. - Steve Braudo

Great resource! I printed each page on cardstock, laminated them, and put them on a ring for easy reference. - Dawn Van Sickle

The questioning is helping me how to ask the higher level questions to challenge my students thinking. Thank you. - Robin B.

This is such an easy to use tool! I can keep it on a key ring near the front of my room to access it easily during all areas of our day and not just math. Thanks so much! - Abby Gigous


You might also like:

Question Stems for Common Core Math Practices

Partner Discussion Cards/Conversation Starters for Common Core Math Practices

Math Talk Posters: Student conversation starters for problem solving

Be sure to check out my website where there are hundreds of pages of classroom management resources that make teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable! You'll find photos, activities, printable forms/posters, and more.




If you like this product, please consider rating it! I am new to TpT and would love your help in spreading the word about my resources.

Total Pages
15 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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