Friday, July 27, 2012

Questioning in the Math Classroom

What do students do when they do not know how to get started? What do students do when they get stuck? I have created questions that students can ask themselves in these situations. As 21st century learners, students need to be independent problem solvers. Modeling how to use these questions with students can help them become more responsible for their own learning. Modeling can be done during a whole group think aloud or during small group instruction.

The questions are color-coded. If students do not know how to get started on a problem or task after instruction and directions are given, the green cards can be used. Green means go. If students get stuck while doing a problem, the yellow cards can be used. Yellow means slow down and use caution. When students are done, are they really done? The red cards can be used to encourage students to stop and think about the reasonableness of their answers. Red means stop. In all these instances, students are self-regulating their own learning and asking themselves questions. By having these questions available to students on a ring or to put in their math notebooks, students can become better questioners. What's even better, students can learn to ask questions that they themselves have to answer in order to move their learning along. Encourage students to ask themselves THREE questions before they raise their hand to ask for help..."Ask yourself three before you ask me."

Want students to think deeper? Encourage students to ask themselves questions similar to those found on the purple cards. For those early finishers, ask students to answer one of the purple questions. These questions are designed to extend thinking and encourage higher level thinking. Ultimately in math, we want students to think beyond the answer!

How can you encourage student participation during small group instruction? Have the black cards available for students to use during small group. The black cards were cut out and hot glued to a Popsicle stick. I chose to put all these questions on black so students would not associate a particular question with a certain color. While discussion is occurring in small group, students can pull a stick and be asked to share their ideas to the question they find on their stick. To differentiate, look at the questions and hand out the question that you think best fits the readiness level of each student. While doing a math think aloud have these questions available. After modeling, ask students to share their thinking to one of these questions.

These questions are just a start! Once students become comfortable with self-questioning or questioning to dig for deeper meaning, they, too, can generate new questions that you can add to the collection. Click the image below to grab your own copy!

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