One of the neat things about being an educational blogger is that you get to connect with educators across the country and even the world. This past summer I attended the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas, and I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Greg Coleman, aka Mr. Elementary Math. Naturally, we hit it off, and I knew that collaboration would be in our future. Tonight, I present my very first guest post, written by Greg. There's even a freebie at the end!
The Q Factor
Do you find yourself asking questions like, “What place does the underlined digit hold in the number 256?” Many of us ask questions like this during our math instruction.
As educators, we find ourselves looking for ways to ask questions that will both challenge and grow our students’ understanding. It is important that we strategically plan lessons to incorporate higher level, open ended questioning.
Take a look at the questions below and consider how they differ. Which question drives to the heart of student understanding?
After looking at the questions above, you may be thinking “How can I easily create questions that will help drive to the heart of student understanding?” Good Questions for Math Teaching, by Peter Sullivan and Pat Lilburn, is an excellent book that supports educators in asking good questions. According to the authors, good questions contain three characteristics:
- They require more than remembering a fact or reproducing a skill.
- They build students’ learning through answering questions, and the teachers’ learning about their students from their attempts.
- There may be several acceptable answers.
You may be asking yourself, “How can I gather or create questions that fit the 3 characteristics?” There are 2 methods that are used by Sullivan and Lilburn to address this concern.
Method 1: Working Backward
· Step 1 – Identify a topic
· Step 2 – Think of a closed question and write down the answer.
· Step 3 – Make up a question that includes (or addresses) the answer.
Using method 1 may look like this:
Method 2: Adapting a Standard Question
· Step 1 – Identify a topic
· Step 2 – Think of a standard question.
· Step 3 – Adapt it to make a good question.
Using method 2 may look like this:
Now it is your turn! Use the example above to adapt a question with the answer in mind.
Take a look at some additional questions for elementary grade students that followed the methods above. Click on the images to download the Quality Questions template.
Though this process takes time, I challenge you to try it at least 2 – 3 times each week. Notice the difference that great questioning techniques have on student thinking. It is worth a couple of additional minutes to move our students in this direction as the Common Core Standards are requiring more from all of us.
P.S. This is my VERY 1st guest blog post and I really want to thank Donna for extending this opportunity to me. Donna is the best!!