Chapter 3 in my book study, Making Number Talks Matter, we are looking at the questions we ask in math class.
I have always felt that the most important part of any lesson I create for my students is purposefully planning the questions I will ask. I’m not one of those people that can “shoot from the hip” and ask the just right question at the just right time. I have found I have to PLAN.
In my classroom, and now in the classrooms where I am co-teaching while I coach, I jot down some open ended questions that can be used at any time. My favorites:
“Why did you choose to use that strategy?”
“How do you know that your final answer is correct?”
“Can you explain why that works?”
“Can you explain if that strategy will work for every problem, every time?”
“Why?” “Tell me more.”
I try to avoid asking questions that focus too much on the right answer, or yes or no answers.
In considering number talks, whether I use the generic questions, or I use a task specific question for that particular talk, I still plan ahead.
What do I want the students to do? What misconceptions should I be looking for? What strategies might I see? What understandings am I looking for?
Once I can answer these questions, I can plan what questions I will ask my students.
Probably the most important question I asked once, was “What questions could we ask?” This put the responsibility for thinking about the problem back with the students. The first time I asked this question was probably unplanned, but it had a spectacular effect: My students took over the math talk, and began talking with each other!
Since this time, I have planned this particular question into lessons. What I notice is that the first few times, the students are hesitant. They are not used to asking questions on their own. Once they are comfortable, they will begin asking amazing questions that are even more thought-provoking than what I had planned. The energy and enthusiasm for math talk also increases.
Asking this one question has increased the math talk between students more than any other teacher move I have ever done!
#mathquestions #mNTmTch #dearteacher #mathtalk