3 Act-ish

This year I did a little PD work around 3-Act tasks for teachers at my school and some other math coaches in my district. I’ve spent time in classrooms teaching with 3-Act tasks and coaching teachers around them. We’ve mostly used the amazing Graham Fletcher’s 3-Act Tasks, so if you’re an elementary math person new to 3 Acts, that’s a great place to learn more.

I’ve been thinking about how fun it would be to plan my own 3-Act task, but have been waiting for the perfect mathematical inspiration to come along. I don’t think that’s happened yet, but I found something that seems interesting enough for a first shot.

As the school year closes out, I’ve been purchasing some new math materials for my school. My closet office is also our school’s math lab, the place where we store extra math materials for check out by teachers. It’s not usually a place where students visit, since all of my work is done in classrooms, but when students do occasionally come in they are always wowed by the cornocupia of math goodies.

This week I was giving an assessment to a couple of kids who looked around and made these comments:

“A box full of ocean animals! We have that in my class too.”

“Whoa, why do you have so many cubes in here. There’s like a million.”

“Do you just play in here all day? Do you spend all day counting your math toys?”  (This was my favorite comment.)

So on Thursday when I got a box in the mail with some new multilink cubes, I thought a little documentation of their unpacking was in order:

Act I:

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Possible student questions:

How many cubes in each bag? How many cubes in total? How many cubes of each color? How big is the tub? How big is each cube?

Act II:

What’s in the tub?–How many bags?



Act 2-How many bags? pic.JPG

What do the cubes look like in the tub?



IMG_3506  IMG_3505

Note:  I will include picture of one bag organized into groups of ten and edit post when I have it.

Act III:

Here’s a picture of the website page where I ordered the cubes.

(Note: I’m also planning on including a picture of all the cubes organized in groups of ten as another Act III option. I’ll edit this post when I do.)

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 9.37.54 PM


What other questions might students ask after seeing this image?

What about this one–a shot of “similar products” the website is recommending to me. What questions would you ask? What would you want to figure out?

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 9.38.30 PM

So, there you go! My first very rough 3-Act-ish task. Some kids might not be enthralled with multilink cubes, but I think it’s interesting enough to give it a shot.

Are there other blog posts out or other resources there about how to make a good 3-Act Task? Open to tips and ideas!



2 thoughts on “3 Act-ish

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s