Partner Discussion Cards/Conversation Starters for Math Practices

Angela Watson
Grade Levels
2nd - 7th
Formats Included
  • PDF
20 pages
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Angela Watson


This product features printable cards for student partners to use for accountable talk when problem solving in math. The discussion questions are designed to help students reflect on and talk about each of the CCSS math practices.

By placing these conversation starters in your math centers / math stations or making them available to students during cooperative learning activities in math, you can help students meet the following K-12 Common Core math standards:

MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

MP3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

MP4 Model with mathematics.

MP5 Use appropriate tools strategically.

MP6 Attend to precision.

MP7 Look for and make use of structure.

MP8 Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

I've created 8 questions for each of the 8 math practices (64 questions in total.) Print the cards onto card stock or mount them on construction paper, then cut them apart and store them on an “o” ring/book ring.

When a pair of students uses the cards, the person on sitting on the left asks the question printed on the left side of the card, and the person sitting on the right uses the sentence stem on the right side of the card to help him or her answer the question. Then they switch roles.

The prompts go beyond asking students to explain how they arrived at an answer. They require students to reflect on strong math practices and how those practices helped them approach the problem in a systematic, logical way. They help students reflect on their plan for solving, what happened when they noticed their plan was or wasn’t working, how math tools assisted them, patterns they noticed, strategies they used for checking their work, and how they could prove their answer is correct.


The accountable talk cards are very versatile and can be used in lots of different ways:

* Choose one specific math practice and give a set of the 8 discussion cards for that practice to each pair or group of students. Challenge kids to pick one of the 8 cards during each math activity you do and discuss it together.

* Place the entire set of 64 discussion cards in your math center. Challenge students to pick one question to answer (verbally and/or in writing via a math journal) each time they go to the center.

* Choose one discussion card for each lesson or activity. Display the card for the class to see, and challenge students to delve deeply into it through written reflections and conversations.


The discussion cards were designed for grades 2-7 (younger students will need more support with reading and understanding some of the vocabulary).

The questions in these partner discuss cards are aligned with the ones I created for the Question Stems for Common Core Math Practices. You may want to use the question stems as a reference tool for yourself to ensure you are asking math practice questions on a regular basis, and to help you facilitate conversations with and between students.

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



You might also like:

Question Stems for Common Core Math Practices

Math Talk Posters: Student conversation starters for problem solving

Discussion Starters for Math Problem Solving

Total Pages
20 pages
Answer Key
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Look for and make use of structure. Mathematically proficient students look closely to discern a pattern or structure. Young students, for example, might notice that three and seven more is the same amount as seven and three more, or they may sort a collection of shapes according to how many sides the shapes have. Later, students will see 7 × 8 equals the well remembered 7 × 5 + 7 × 3, in preparation for learning about the distributive property. In the expression 𝑥² + 9𝑥 + 14, older students can see the 14 as 2 × 7 and the 9 as 2 + 7. They recognize the significance of an existing line in a geometric figure and can use the strategy of drawing an auxiliary line for solving problems. They also can step back for an overview and shift perspective. They can see complicated things, such as some algebraic expressions, as single objects or as being composed of several objects. For example, they can see 5 – 3(𝑥 – 𝑦)² as 5 minus a positive number times a square and use that to realize that its value cannot be more than 5 for any real numbers 𝑥 and 𝑦.
Attend to precision. Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.
Use appropriate tools strategically. Mathematically proficient students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. Proficient students are sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate for their grade or course to make sound decisions about when each of these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations. For example, mathematically proficient high school students analyze graphs of functions and solutions generated using a graphing calculator. They detect possible errors by strategically using estimation and other mathematical knowledge. When making mathematical models, they know that technology can enable them to visualize the results of varying assumptions, explore consequences, and compare predictions with data. Mathematically proficient students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understanding of concepts.
Model with mathematics. Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In early grades, this might be as simple as writing an addition equation to describe a situation. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. By high school, a student might use geometry to solve a design problem or use a function to describe how one quantity of interest depends on another. Mathematically proficient students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Mathematically proficient students understand and use stated assumptions, definitions, and previously established results in constructing arguments. They make conjectures and build a logical progression of statements to explore the truth of their conjectures. They are able to analyze situations by breaking them into cases, and can recognize and use counterexamples. They justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others. They reason inductively about data, making plausible arguments that take into account the context from which the data arose. Mathematically proficient students are also able to compare the effectiveness of two plausible arguments, distinguish correct logic or reasoning from that which is flawed, and-if there is a flaw in an argument-explain what it is. Elementary students can construct arguments using concrete referents such as objects, drawings, diagrams, and actions. Such arguments can make sense and be correct, even though they are not generalized or made formal until later grades. Later, students learn to determine domains to which an argument applies. Students at all grades can listen or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, and ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments.


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