Game Changer: My Top 5 Questions

It's way more fun to share resources but these questions have made more of a difference in student growth than any resource yet.
  1. What do you notice?
  2. How do we start?
  3. How is this question different from the previous one?
  4. What should we do next?
  5. What is the question asking us to find?
This is similar to the order I would actually use them in a lesson. They seem extra effective in Geometry, probably because there are so many diagrams.

I think it's really important that #1 is asked before #2. If you ask how to start first, you risk alienating students who think they are already supposed to know this new thing that you are teaching them.

Asking #1 first gives everyone a chance to participate by noticing, even if they don't participate verbally. Listing things we notice gives a foundation to build from. Students can then suggest a first step based on what they notice. There's less fear in answering when you know it's connected to what you and your classmates just pointed out.

When asking #3 just go ahead and toss your preconceived answers out because THEY WILL ALWAYS SURPRISE YOU. Surprises vary from them answering "they all have numbers" to something YOU didn't even notice yourself. Also be prepared to offer ample wait time until they answer what you need to go on with the lesson. I like to think that doing WODB once a week has helped students to be more observant in noticing subtle changes in questions/problems.

I ask #4 constantly even when I'm sure everyone in the class knows what to do next and especially when I'm sure no one in the class knows what to do next. When steps are interchangeable, I always like to explain my method and why I choose to do it this way. This has helped my own growth because I constantly question my own methods and their efficiency. Sometimes students point out why another way is better or they like it better and I love to emphasize that different ways are good and student can choose. I like to say "do whatever makes sense to your brain." Because I also like to emphasize that each brain is different and you know it best. All brains matter!

And #5 by far has made the biggest difference in Geometry. Almost every skill starts by asking students to solve for x and then progresses to segment lengths or angles or something that requires plugging in. These type of problems used to make me so mad because I felt like it was all I could do to teach them how to solve for x and then the problems go and get harder. Once I started pointing this out, the amount of students who forgot to plug in went down to one or two. It's also a great strategy for multi-step problems. I always focus so much on how to get them started that I used to lose sight of how to finish.

This post has been on my mind for a couple days and I felt like maybe I had already written it. I found a good list here but none of my top 5 were on it so consider this my two-for-one special.


1 comment:

  1. Love this Elissa, thank you for such valuable brain food!