Are Your Students Afraid of Expressing Their Thinking Because They Don’t Want to be Wrong?

By Jennifer Knudsen | November 6, 2017

Mathematical argumentation is improvisational! As you and your students create mathematical truth together, you all have to respond in the moment to what others are saying and doing. Norms of collaboration and celebrating mistakes are important. One way to set those norms is through improv warm-up games. Here’s a game from our book:

rules for zip-zap-zop

Knudsen, J., Stevens, H., Lara-Meloy, T., Kim, H., and Shechtman, N. (2017). Mathematical Argumentation in Middle School—The What, Why, and How. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

There are plenty more where that came from. We didn’t invent these games; most all are popular ways for improvisational theater actors to learn their craft. But we also found that the games are aligned with what research says are supportive learning environments for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Here’s how:


If you try Zip Zap Zop in your classroom, drop us a line and let us know how it went!