Math = Love: Distributive Property Question Stack

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Distributive Property Question Stack

In a previous post about creating cards for a speed dating activity, I mentioned that I had started using printable business cards for my speed dating cards instead of printing them on card stock and laminating them. I've also been doing the same thing for question stacks.

Last year, I purchased a bunch of Avery printable business cards (affiliate link) from NAEIR. These are a lifesaver for making activity prep super fast. The cards snap apart so quickly. It never fails to amaze and excite me how the paper I just ran through my printer can come apart so easily.
I set up Word to print on the correct Avery template and quickly created a question stack template.  If you don't have access to printable business cards, you can still use this template. You'll just need to chop off the margins before cutting the cards apart! You can download the blank template to make your own question stacks here.

So, how does a question stack work? Check out this post for the full details, but I'll go ahead and quickly summarize how it works below!

Each group gets an explanation card with all of the rules.

I printed them on peach paper and laminated them so they are handy every time we do a question stack. And, I do lots of question stacks!

Students lay out all of the cards individually with the answer sides facing up. These cards form the "answer bank." Each group chooses one card to flip over. They lay this card on top of their laminated question stack template so they don't get confused.

Each group member works out the problem. When the group has decided on an answer, they check the "answer bank" to see if their answer is there. If it is, they are (most likely) correct. If it isn't, they have made a mistake. They need to check their work and/or ask for help.

If the answer is in the answer bank, this card is flipped over to reveal a new question. This process repeats until the last question is flipped over. The answer to this card should be at the bottom of the pile if all of the questions have been answered correctly.

There are a few things I especially love about this practice structure. It's self-checking. Groups know exactly when they need to ask for help. Groups get to work at their own pace. Some will make it through all ten questions. Others may only make it through four. As long as they are working and asking good questions, I am happy! Groups don't just get to skip questions when they feel like it. This activity is all about perseverance. Also, once students know how the structure works, all I have to do is pass out the cards. The students know exactly what to do to get started.

I recently used the template I created to make a question stack to review the distributive property and combining like terms. Here are the questions I came up with:

Here are some photos of my students working through this question stack:

You can download the file for this activity here. The template is designed to be printed on Avery Printable Business cards (affiliate link). But, you could also print on regular paper and chop off the margins before cutting the cards apart!


  1. Thanks for this, Sarah! I really like the idea of using the business cards. Great info (as always)!

  2. Using business cards is a great idea! I guess I need to stock up when I visit the USA during the summer!

  3. I'm impressed with the rigor of these questions! My students would get overwhelmed by the length of any of these questions... Btw, are you teaching a Transition to Algebra class this year?