Three-act math task!

Math peeps! I just discovered Dan Meyer’s three-act math tasks and I must say that I am hooked! If you’ve never heard of them before, they start with a video which makes students naturally come up with questions that they can answer mathematically. You then supply them with additional information they can use to come up with solutions. My students absolutely love them because they are like mysteries!

I’ve adapted one from Dane Ehlert (Water Filter – When Math Happens) and made it into a formative so that I could gather their wonderings and use them to drive our discussions (what question we were working towards answering, what information would help us). Here’s a link to the formative(Formative) I made!


This is awesome Casey! It seems like a great way to engage students and I’m already working on my own three-act task! I’ll let you know how it goes :slight_smile:


I have done the same thing. I always have a trusted student test it for me before I give it to the whole class as I have had the videos fail. I have done this when I have had a supply teacher too so the students can do the lesson without me there but I can still respond to them from the conference, workshop or home.

Hope it goes well!



@casey_liu I love Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Task; I shared with staff a couple of years ago as its a great way to engage students. Love the hooks and the questions. Thank you for sharing this.


Aw, that’s awesome! I’d LOVE to see what you come up with!

@kristi_miller Aw, that’s awesome! I’d LOVE to see what you come up with!

@dawn_frier I’ve done a couple and they’ve gone really well! Regarding the videos, do you mean that sometimes your students don’t understand them so you like to test them out with one student first? I can see this being good to do for certain tasks.

@clinechr I am glad to hear that you’ve shared this with your math teachers. I know that I always appreciate it when our administrators share easy-to-apply resources like this, with us!

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This passes the test of “can every kid be reasonably expected to be able to weigh in?” Too often I think kids have no valid entry point.


@clinechr and @aleshjam - This may be something to show the math department. Sounds like it would be an engaging math activity!


Interesting take on this. I used flipped classroom and will use this approach to gather questions from the students. I hope I can get my videos to work with this.


Thanks! Yeah, I think the big benefit of using Formative in this case is being able to gather all those student questions in one place so you can use them to drive discussion. Are you thinking of using this for an assignment that they do at home? What is preventing your videos from working? I’d love to help if I can! :grinning:

We are a one to one school with Chromebooks. I use Screen Castify and been having issues uploading videos. Not sure if it our district filters or just not having info to do this.

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Are you having issues uploading the videos to Formative? I use Screen Castify too and you can embed videos from there. From within ScreenCastify, you can click on “Your Recordings”, click on the video and then click on the Google Drive link:

You can then click on the three dots in the Google Drive preview and then select “Embed Item”:

Lastly, you can copy and paste the embed code that shows up and embed it in Formative as shown here: Embed | Formative Help Center

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@casey.liu I mean that sometimes the videos embedded didn’t play for the students which is difficult to troubleshoot when not there. So I often ask a student to “test” the video within the Formative to make sure it works when I am not there. (We have had permissions issues with streaming videos in the past - will work for me but not on student accounts).


Got it. Have you tried uploading videos to Google Drive and embedding them from there? When you preview the file in Google Drive, you can click on the three dots in the top right of it and grab the embed code to paste into an embed block:



I also use Screencastify but hadn’t thought about embedding it in Formative. Thanks for the idea and tips.


Three act math tasks are so engaging! I love this idea and plan on trying it. Thanks for all the different ideas and ways to make this happen!

I have also used three-act math in the past for a warm up and incorporating it into a formative would be great! I used to always have them guess before we revealed the answer and this would be way easier to just hide the names and project all the guesses on the board. Great job and I can’t wait to use this in my own class!

I love using 3 act math in class - I didn’t find any when I searched the formative library - am I searching incorrectly? I’d love to see some in action before building my own since I’m relatively new to formative.

I know I’ve seen some in the Library.


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