#mathMovement ideas with well known Math Routines

There are so many amazing math routines, many with websites full of resources. These math routines, when implemented well, will increase student mathematical discourse. I would argue that many of these routines are even better when students are standing and moving. Check out a few of the routines I think benefit from a bit of #mathMovement! Try these out with your students. Students need to move every 25 minutes each and every day. Below are some ways you can use to add #mathMovement to your daily routine in class.

#mathMovement with Open Middle

The Open Middle website is a curated set of K-12 challenging math problems worth solving. Robert Kaplinsky wrote about implementing ‘open middle’ problems in his 2019 book ‘Open Middle Math’ from Stenhouse. Open Middle Problems are perfect to do while vertical. Ideally have your students work in groups of 2 or 3 on an Open Middle Task at #vnps Vertical (standing) Non-Permanent (white boards…) Surfaces.

If you are not yet at a point where you have enough ‘non-permanant’ stations around your classroom – do what I use to do. A lot of the ‘Open Middle’ tasks ask students to manipulate the digits 0-9 to solve a math challenge. Have students pull out 10 post-it notes (stickies) and place the digits 0-9 on each.

Go to Open Middle and look for a task to use.For example check out this task from Graham Fletcher:

This task only uses the digits 1-9, so get rid of your post-it note with zero on it. Write up the form of this task on chart paper (or photo copy the frame of the task on paper to tape to the wall) I transformed Graham’s original task to write the ratios in fractional form. I made boxes for each digit and when I drew them I made each box approximately the same size as a post-it note.

I love the increased discourse I see in adults and students when they are working vertically.

So….the next time you do an OPEN MIDDLE task with your students – do it vertically. Get your students up and moving.

#mathMovement with Which One Doesn’t Belong?

I will always be a fan of ‘Which One Doesn’t Belong?’ routine because not only is it a great first win for teachers trying to increase discourse in their room but because it was made popular by people who live within miles of me. I was introduced to this routine by Terry Wyberg (University of Minnesota) and Christopher Danielson (Who wrote a book of the same name). I’m telling you all – we have amazing math leaders in Minnesota.

So, what does WODB look like with #mathMovement? One common way that many use WODB, is to give each student a post-it note and then present a problem. For example, this one from the wodb.ca website…

Have students individually select a number that does not belong and record their choice and reason on their post-it note. NOTE: I give students a sentence stem to write their choice “The number ______ does not belong because…”

I then have students ALL (yes all – everyone needs #mathmovement – even for a few seconds) stand and walk to the board and place their post it notes next to the box of their choice. It would look something like this (though this is a different problem).


I then have a discussion with the class about what hey wrote. Imagine this picture with 30 post-it notes. I usually start with the number with the most post-it notes next to it and have students share their reasons. Sometimes I have a box with no post-it notes and we will brainstorm as a class reasons.

The method above is OK for #mathmovment. At least all students move for 30 seconds – but my favorite way to use WODB problems with #mathmovement is the following. For most WODB’s I do, I use an EL best practice of inviting more learners into the discourse by using language that most students can access.

Did you know that many students don’t participate in a WODB because they don’t have QUICK language to say things like “The one in the upper left….” or even say “Letter A doesn’t belong because….” I have had teachers excitedly tell me, I put axis through the middle and have students tell me what quadrant their choice is in. When I hear this I think – “Yikes – our classrooms have lots of students with language needs and adding another layer of complexity tends to shut these students down, not support them in their language needs.

What is quick for most students, despite their language needs are colors. You would be amazed how many students will start talking about WODB when you make each quadrant a separate color. All of a sudden students will say things like, “The purple one doesn’t belong because……”.

For this reason – I do all my WODB on a template in a word document – though it could be a power-point template. I simply create a jpeg of the 4 boxes and paste them into the template. I then take a jpeg of this and share this with my students and ask them ‘Which one Doesn’t Belong?”. Note #1 For my color blind students I also label each quadrant with A, B, C, D. Note #2 When students say “The purple one doesn’t belong.” I will re-voice and pair language to build academic language for all “Tell my why the purple, letter D in the lower right does not belong.” – (pairing language though is another post I need to write some day).

my classroom

SO….where is the #mathmovement in this activity? Well, first let me show you my classroom. I squeeze 35+ students into a tiny room and I still do movement. What is on the four walls, way up high, is an 8.5×11″ sign that says ‘WODB’. Each sign is in a different color corresponding to the 4 colors in my WODB template.

I display the WODB for students to see and then I have them stand up and go to the side of the classroom to stand next to their choice. I usually will then stand in the center of the classroom and orchestrate the discussion of why students selected each choice. All of us will remain standing for the discussion. #mathmovement with WODB. Excellent.

Note: If you would like my templates for creating color coded WODB’s or want to download the 8.5×11″ colorful signs I keep up in my classroom, click the button below to go to a google folder of resources from this blog post.

#mathMovement with Debate Math

Debate Math is an amazing math routine incorporating debate language and now a book from my friend and co-presentor on #mathMovement, Chris Luzniak. I am not going to say much about his other than to say – click on the links to either the Debate Math blog or book from Chris and read one or both. Debate Math is an incredible routine to increase mathematical discourse in your classroom and get students moving. Check out this tweet from Stephanie Lewis!

#mathMovement with ‘Would you Rather?’


The ‘Would You Rather?’ website has great math prompts to get your students engaging in discourse around a variety of topics. Check out this tweet/photos from Karla Doyle.


The ‘Would you Rather’ Math Instructional Routine would be another great routine to incorporate #mathMovement. Similar to what I wrote about above for WODB – consider tweaking the resources at the website to have students make a choice between the 2 items by physically moving to one side of the classroom. Hold the class discussion about the 2 choices while all are standing.

Step 1: After selecting an image from the website (or make up your own task of this form)- add it to a color backed template and display for students.

Step 2: Have students make a choice between the 2 options and move physically to the corresponding side of the room.

Step 3: Lead a class discussion having students voice their reasons for selecting each option.

Note: If you would like signs for your classroom or templates for creating a #mathMovement ‘Would you rather?’ task – click the button below.

#mathMovement with Estimation 180

Estimation 180 can become a #mathmovement activity with the addition of BLUE 3M Painter’s Tape (3M is a Minnesota product – thus my support of them). All you need to do is create a (semi) permanent number-line in your classroom that you have your students use in a variety of ways. (sidenote: My good friend, Ali Rubin, will write a blog post soon on 10 ways to use a classroom number-line soon – I’ll link to her post her when she does)

The classroom (blue tape) number-line in my own classroom went down the center of my groups of tables.


Then select an ‘Estimation 180’ prompt (or make up one of your own). I selected day 206 – How many cheese-balls fit onto a tray? Display the image provided by Andrew Stadel at his site.

Have students write down their estimates. I recommend using Andrew (creator of estimation 180) Stadel’s template for having students make their predictions – Have student’s not just estimate the number of cheese-balls but also write down a number they believe is too LOW and another number that is too HIGH. Finally, have students record their reasoning.

Now it is time to incorporate #mathMovement with Estimation 180.

Have students work in pairs with white boards. As a class talk about what students think is ‘too low’. Have a student stand up and represent this amount on the number line. For example, maybe this class thinks 20 is too few cheese balls to cover the sheet pan.

Next have a class discussion about an amount that is ‘too high’ and have a student stand up to represent this amount. Write the amount on a white board (or paper) for the class to see. For example, maybe the class thinks 700 cheese balls is definitely too many.

Next have one person from each partnership make their best estimates and stand on the line between the 2 numbers.

Have a class discussion about where students are standing. Are students spread out in proportion to the distances from the low to high number or just standing ‘in order’. Are the best estimates all bunched together or spread out? Why did they select their value. After a standing class discussion, show the reveal.

The Reveal!

Last note: Have you checked out Andrew Stadel’s ‘Estimation 180’ podcast yet? If not, take a listen soon and imagine this routine with #mathMovement.

#mathMovement with Clothesline Math

You can not use number-lines enough in K-12 math to model student thinking. One way of using more number lines (and your the blue painter’s tape number line you now have made (see above) on your classroom floor) that has gotten traction in recent years is ‘Clothesline Math‘.

Chris Shore and his site has lots of information on this routine as well as downloadable resources. Note: Kristen Acosta has lots of Clothesline resources for Elementary. (and check out all the other clothesline enthusiasts linked on Chris’s site.)

Image result for clothesline math

Ultimately, you as a teacher print out a set of cards for students to sort on a clothesline. Clotheslines are superior to written number lines in that it is super easy to move numbers as you place them and replace them as you add more cards.

What if you used the clothesline math downloadable cards at Chris or Kristen or Andrew Stadel’s sites and instead of sorting them on a clothesline, you had students engage in a #mathMovement activity and had them stand on your classroom number-line on the floor? Think of discussions you could have.

How are you using #mathMovement with Math Instructional Routines in your classroom? Comment below or tweet at @saravdwerf or using the hashtag #mathMovement. I’d love to hear your ideas and/or questions.

CLICK the links below for more movement ideas for your classroom.
Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 7 comments