Math Imposter Sets (with Video and PDF)

Imposter Pic

Over 15 years ago, I began using Imposter Sets in my math classroom.  Imposter Sets frequently produce rich, insightful discussion about important math concepts.  Students readily embrace the mystery of Imposter Sets.  Classroom discussions are frequently characterized by investigation, exploration, and wonder.  Those are powerful responses to a strategy that is actually very simple to use.


Recently I was asked to share more about Imposter Sets.  What are they?  How can they be used in the classroom?


You’ll find several resources below.  I just recorded a video explaining Imposter Sets, and there is also a PDF ready for you to download.  I hope your classroom will be filled with a sense of investigation and wonder.


Imposter Pic


Click Here to Download Sample Imposter Sets PDF


Enjoy the video!

Using Imposter Sets in the Classroom


If you would like to learn about more animated math instructional strategies, you’ll find additional posts listed on the left, including the “I’m on a Learning Mission” all-time most popular post The Animated Multiplication Table.


  1. ak gupta on August 23, 2018 at 4:00 am

    awesome sharing sir. i am sharing this post with my best math teacher.
    keep writing awesome article with us.

  2. Jane on October 9, 2016 at 12:08 am

    This is very similar to the Which One Doesn’t Belong (WODB) idea. I have had great success with this in my Gr2 classroom. Thanks!

    • on October 9, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Thank you, Jane! Yes, WODB is a great resource!

  3. Aaron Brecek on September 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I just found this while searching ideas for Number Talks and absolutely love it. This idea/concept of Imposter Sets can be used at any level just by changing to 4 items to graphs, equations, shapes, etc.

    Thanks for publishing this, I plan on using this in our next Math Institute.

    • on October 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Hi, Aaron. I’m really glad that you are taking this and using it with your students. You are absolutely correct that this can be used at any level. Take a look at and click on the graphs tab at the very top. WODB has done some excellent work with a very similar concept and I think you could do amazing things with the images found there. If you look really carefully you’ll see some subtle differences in the approaches but I think the nuances really inform the strategies nicely.

  4. chăm sóc trẻ thơ on March 29, 2016 at 8:02 pm

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    • on March 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you for the question. You can subscribe to the blog via email subscription in the top right corner of the blog. I believe it’s more visible on a computer than on a mobile device. Thanks for reading the blog!

  5. Travis on March 31, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for the video.
    If playing Imposter Sets becomes to declarative and you want to go the interrogative route…
    For students having trouble and needing to level up…the teacher or student can assist with…
    Uni-Q [as opposed to Imposter Set]
    What one question can you ask that will cue the listener into the uniqueness?

  6. Graham on February 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Forget the nugget…thanks for throwing us the whole gold bar Steve! I’ll definitely be sharing this with teachers and letting them know where they can find more of the good stuff! Cheers!

    • on February 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Graham, I’m glad you like it. Thanks for sharing. There is much more to come…

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