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PROMOTING MATHEMATICAL THINKING AND DISCUSSION

WITH EFFECTIVE QUESTIONING STRATEGIES

Using “Mistakes” as a Route to Success

Phrases that Do and Do Not Motivate

The Value of a Pause

Phrases that Do and Do Not Motivate The Value of a Pause The Art of Questioning

The Art of Questioning in the Math Class

Value of a Pause The Art of Questioning in the Math Class “Look, no hand s
Value of a Pause The Art of Questioning in the Math Class “Look, no hand s
Value of a Pause The Art of Questioning in the Math Class “Look, no hand s
Value of a Pause The Art of Questioning in the Math Class “Look, no hand s

“Look, no hands!” Now what?”— Troubleshooting

Motivating Students to Ask Questions

A Beginning Repertoire of Teacher Questions

Questions that Need enhancing

Recall: Five Productive Talk Moves

1. Revoicing

2. Asking Students to Restate Someone Else’s Reasoning

3. Asking Students to Apply Their Own Reasoning to Someone Else’s Reasoning

4. Prompting Students for Further Participation

5. Using Wait Time

Some Productive Talk Formats

1. Whole-Class Discussion

2. Small-Group Discussion

3. Partner Talk

What Do We Talk About?

1. Mathematical Concepts

2. Computational Procedures

3. Solution Methods and Problem-Solving Strategies

4. Mathematical Reasoning

5. Mathematical Terminology, Symbols, and Definitions

6. Forms of Representation

What Teachers Should Know About Questioning in the Math Class

Asking questions that motivate student reflective thinking is an art. If our lessons are to be effective, we need to develop this art. It takes practice. As with most arts, there is not a set of hard and fast rules that work in all situations all of the time, but here are some general effective ideas to keep in mind for most times.

1. A Try-toList:

Try to use effective pauses and wait time. Try to avoid frequent questions which require only a yes/no answer or simple recall. Try
Try to avoid frequent questions which require only a yes/no answer or simple recall. Try to use effective pauses and wait time. Try to avoid answering your own questions. Try
Try to avoid answering your own questions. which require only a yes/no answer or simple recall. Try to follow up student responses with
Try to follow up student responses with questions and phrases such as, or simple recall. Try to avoid answering your own questions. “why?” or “tell me how you “why?” or “tell me how you know” or “think about how you can put Jim’s response into your own words.”
how you can put Jim’s response into your own words.” Try to avoid directing a question Try to avoid directing a question to a student mainly for disciplinary reasons.
a question to a student mainly for disciplinary reasons. Try to follow up a student’s response Try to follow up a student’s response by fielding it to the class or to another student for a reaction.
Try to avoid giveaway facial expressions to student responses. it to the class or to a nother student for a reaction. Try to make it
Try to make it easy for students to ask a question at any time. to avoid giveaway facial expressions to student responses. Try to ask the question before calling on
Try to ask the question before calling on a student to respond. to make it easy for students to ask a question at any time. Try not to
Try not to call on a particular student immediately after asking a question. to ask the question before calling on a student to respond. Try to ask questions that
Try to ask questions that are open-ended. on a particular student immediately after asking a question. Try not to label the degree of
Try not to label the degree of difficulty of a question. asking a question. Try to ask questions that are open-ended. Try to leave an occasional question
Try to leave an occasional question unanswered at the end of the period. Try not to label the degree of difficulty of a question. Try to replace or enhance
an occasional question unanswered at the end of the period. Try to replace or enhance “lectures” Try to replace or enhance “lectures” with a set of appropriate questions.
Try to keep the students actively involved in the learning process.unanswered at the end of the period. Try to replace or enhance “lectures” with a set

2. Questions to seldom ask: [The point here is that even though you do want to know the answers to these questions, the way these questions are phrased probably won’t get you very far in learning what you want to know.]

“How many of you understood that?” “Everybody see that?” “You want me to go over that again?” “This is a right
“Everybody see that?” “How many of you understood that?” “You want me to go over that again?” “This is
“You want me to go over that again?” many of you understood that?” “Everybody see that?” “This is a right triangle, isn’t it?” “Do
“This is a right triangle, isn’t it?” understood that?” “Everybody see that?” “You want me to go over that again?” “Do you have
“Do you have any questions?”that?” “Everybody see that?” “You want me to go over that again?” “This is a right

3.

Phrases That Encourage Participation: It’s useful to have a handful of effective ways to start your questions that will motivate all students to participate. Here are some to try. What others can you think of?

“Don’t raise your hand--yet; just think about a possible answer. I will give you a “ --yet; just think about a possible answer. I will give you a

“Everyone—picture this figure in your mind. Is it possible to sketch a possible picture this figure in your mind. Is it possible to sketch a possible

minute

counterexample to this statement?

I will walk around to look at your work

and select 3 students to share their results with the class.” “Find an example for this statement and write it down. In just a minute I nd an example for this statement and write it down. In just a minute I will tell you possible ways to check your example to see if it indeed makes the statement true.” “Put the next step on your paper and write a reason to justify this step. Raise ways to check your example to see if it indeed makes the your h and when your hand when you are ready and I will be around to check in on you.”

4. Phrases That May Fail to Motivate: There are some questions that you might want

to avoid. Why? Because often you end up answering your own questions

“permitting” students NOT to participatethat is, students are not required to take

and

responsibility to develop a response depending how the question is phrased.

“Does someone know ifto develop a response depending how the question is phrased. “Can anyone here give me an

“Can anyone here give me an example of “Who knows the difference between “Someone tell me the definition of “OK, who wants to
“Who knows the difference between “Can anyone here give me an example of “Someone tell me the definition of “OK, who
“Someone tell me the definition of “Can anyone here give me an example of “Who knows the difference between “OK, who wants
“OK, who wants to tell me about“Can anyone here give me an example of “Who knows the difference between “Someone tell me

5. Questions That Need Enhancing: Some common types of questions need some special care if they are to be useful in the math classroom. Otherwise, these questions do not provide much information to check students’ reasoning.

Yes-No questions True-false questions One-word-answer questions Questions that fail to motivate
True-false questions Yes-No questions One-word-answer questions Questions that fail to motivate
One-word-answer questions Yes-No questions True-false questions Questions that fail to motivate
Questions that fail to motivateYes-No questions True-false questions One-word-answer questions

Phrases for enhancing questions:

“Tell me more about what you were thinking.” “How did you decide that?” “Elaborate for others in the class so they can check
“How did you decide that?” “Tell me more about what you were thinking.” “Elaborate for others in the class so they
“Elaborate for others in the class so they can check their thinking.” what you were thinking.” “How did you decide that?” “Can you justify that?” “Give us your
“Can you justify that?” for others in the class so they can check their thinking.” “Give us your insights about
“Give us your insights about arriving at the answer.” can check their thinking.” “Can you justify that?” “What steps did you take?” “Tell us more
“What steps did you take?” “Give us your insights about arriving at the answer.” “Tell us more about what you’re thinking.”
“Tell us more about what you’re thinking.” arriving at the answer.” “What steps did you take?” “What made you think of that?” “To
“What made you think of that?” take?” “Tell us more about what you’re thinking.” “To a person on the street who doesn’t
“To a person on the street who doesn’t speak “Math,” tell how you decided ““What steps did you take?” “Tell us more about what you’re thinking.” “What made you think

that

6. The Value of a Pause: An extremely valuable skill within the art of questioning is in knowing how to build in a pause at the appropriate time. This means both students and teacher need to value a pause.

Note: Pausing is not always comfortable. However, in a classroom where both the teacher and the students pause at appropriate times, research has shown that some exciting things can happen:

The length of student responses increase students’ confidence increases weaker students contribute more there’s a greater variety of student responses discipline problems decrease creative responses increase

Some suggestions about when to pause, who pauses, and the reasoning behind the pause:

7.

Encouraging Your Students to Ask Questions

Instead of asking questions this way:

“Are there any questions?”to Ask Questions Instead of asking questions this way: “Do you have any questions?” “You don’t

“Do you have any questions?”of asking questions this way: “Are there any questions?” “You don’t have any questions, do you?”

“You don’t have any questions, do you?”there any questions?” “Do you have any questions?” “Would anyone like to see that again?” You

“Would anyone like to see that again?”questions?” “You don’t have any questions, do you?” You might try asking questions this way: “

You might try asking questions this way:

Okay-- What questions do you have?” Okay--What questions do you have?”

“Now, ask me some questions.”this way: “ Okay-- What questions do you have?” “Now, what questions may I answer?” “Give

“Now, what questions may I answer?”questions do you have?” “Now, ask me some questions.” “Give me your questions!” Note the subtle

“Give me your questions!”some questions.” “Now, what questions may I answer?” Note the subtle difference. The first set sounds

Note the subtle difference. The first set sounds as if you don’t want questions; the second set implies that you both want and expect questions.

Note: Now, when students do ask questions, instead of always providing quick answers, you can help to keep the class student-centered by considering the following:

Students should practice directing questions to other students-not only to the teacher. The teacher should pause to permit other students to develop an answer to the question— not immediately jump in and answer the question. The teacher should remind students that not immediately jump in and answer the question.
The teacher should remind students that the question is for all members of the class. To ensure that they focus on it, students might write down the question in their notes. They could then write a possible solution or response to the question.pause to permit other students to develop an answer to the question — not immediately jump

8. Troubleshooting: “Look, no hands! Now what?”

First, analyze the situation: When there are no hands, it may be the case that no one has a question and that everyone understands. But it also may be the case that:

No one knows the answer or has a response. The level of concern is low. (No one cares.) The question is not understandable. There was insufficient time for students to formulate an acceptable response. The question is too difficult at this stage of the conceptual development. No one is confident enough to give a response. Students are afraid of being wrong, and of what the teacher might say or do if they give an incorrect response.

Second: Depending on how you analyze the situation, there are several possible things to consider when addressing the “no hands” scenario.

What could you do, for instance, if the level of concern for answering the question is low? What might you try if you suspect that students do not understand but are hesitant to ask a question?to consider when addressing the “no hands” scenario. Keep in mind that students need to feel

Keep in mind that students need to feel safe to express that they do not understand.the question is low? What might you try if you suspect that students do not understand

9.

More Troubleshooting

Analyzing the Situation

Some Ideas for Troubleshooting

1. My Students Won’t Talk

 

2. The Same Few Students Do All the Talking

 

3. Should I Call on Students Who Do Not Raise Their Hands?

 

4. My Students Will Talk, But They Won’t Listen

 

5. “Huh?”—Responding To Incomprehensible Contributions

 

Analyzing the Situation

Some Ideas for Troubleshooting

6. Brilliant, But Did Anyone Understand?

 

7. I Have Students at Different Levels

 

8. What Should I Do When They’re Wrong?

 

9. This Discussion Is Not Going AnywhereOr At Least Not Where I Planned

 

10. Answers/Responses Are Superficial

 

11. What If The First Speaker Gives The Right Answer?

 

12. What Can I Do For English- Language Learners?

 

Beginning Repertoire of Teacher Questions

1. Initial eliciting of students’ thinking—

Does anyone have a solution they would like to share?Questions 1. Initial eliciting o f students’ thinking— Please raise your hand when you are ready

Please raise your hand when you are ready to share your solution.Does anyone have a solution they would like to share? What did you come up with?

What did you come up with? What are you thinking?raise your hand when you are ready to share your solution. Be ready to explain the

Be ready to explain the solution you got.solution. What did you come up with? What are you thinking? Please explain to the rest

Please explain to the rest of the class how you got your answer,are you thinking? Be ready to explain the solution you got. How did you begin working

How did you begin working on this problem?explain to the rest of the class how you got your answer, What have you found

What have you found so far?got your answer, How did you begin working on this problem? Would anyone be willing to

Would anyone be willing to explain their solution?begin working on this problem? What have you found so far? Can you point to a

Can you point to a part of this problem that was difficult?so far? Would anyone be willing to explain their solution? What are some ideas you had?

What are some ideas you had?Can you point to a part of this problem that was difficult? Raise your hand if

Raise your hand if you have a different idea.problem that was difficult? What are some ideas you had? Did anyone approach the problem in

Did anyone approach the problem in a different way?ideas you had? Raise your hand if you have a different idea. What do you already

What do you already know aboutidea. Did anyone approach the problem in a different way? ? 2. Probing students’ answers to—

?

2. Probing students’ answers to—

Figure out what a student means or is thinking when you don’t understand what they are saying

Check whether right answers are supported by correct understanding

Probe wrong answers to understand student thinking

Explain what you have done so far? What else is there to do? Probe wrong answers to understand student thinking How do you know? Why did you ?

How do you know?Explain what you have done so far? What else is there to do? Why did you

have done so far? What else is there to do? How do you know? Why did

Why did you

?

How did you getWhat else is there to do? How do you know? Why did you ? Could you

Could you use [materials] to show how that works?there to do? How do you know? Why did you ? How did you get What

What led you to that idea?you get Could you use [materials] to show how that works? Walk us through your steps.

Walk us through your steps. Where did you begin?to show how that works? What led you to that idea? Please give an example. Would

Please give an example.that idea? Walk us through your steps. Where did you begin? Would you please repeat what

Would you please repeat what you said about that?your steps. Where did you begin? Please give an example. Say a little more about your

Say a little more about your idea.example. Would you please repeat what you said about that? So is what you’re saying When

So is what you’re sayingwhat you said about that? Say a little more about your idea. When you say Could

When you saya little more about your idea. So is what you’re saying Could you explain a little

Could you explain a little more about what you are thinking?about your idea. So is what you’re saying When you say Can you explain that in

Can you explain that in a different way?When you say Could you explain a little more about what you are thinking? What do

What do you notice whenyou explain a little more about what you are thinking? Can you explain that in a

?

?

,

do you mean

?

?

3.

To help when students get stuck

How would you describe the problem in your own words?3. To help when students get stuck — What do you know that is not stated

What do you know that is not stated in the problem?— How would you describe the problem in your own words? What facts do you have?

What facts do you have?words? What do you know that is not stated in the problem? Could you try it

Could you try it with simpler numbers? Fewer numbers? Using a number line?that is not stated in the problem? What facts do you have? What about putting things

What about putting things in order?it with simpler numbers? Fewer numbers? Using a number line? Would it help to create a

Would it help to create a diagram? Make a table? Draw a picture?Using a number line? What about putting things in order? Can you guess and check? What

Can you guess and check?it help to create a diagram? Make a table? Draw a picture? What did other members

What did other members of your group try?Make a table? Draw a picture? Can you guess and check? What do you already know

What do you already know that could help you figure that out?guess and check? What did other members of your group try? 4. Focusing students to listen

4. Focusing students to listen and respond to others’ ideas—

What do other people think?students to listen and respond to others’ ideas— What do other people think about what Would

What do other people think about whatrespond to others’ ideas— What do other people think? Would someone be willing to add on

Would someone be willing to add on to whatdo other people think? What do other people think about what What do you think How

What do you thinkthink about what Would someone be willing to add on to what How does what How

How does whatWould someone be willing to add on to what What do you think How could you

How could you explain whatbe willing to add on to what What do you think How does what Can you

Can you repeat whatWhat do you think How does what How could you explain what Why do you think

Why do you thinkHow does what How could you explain what Can you repeat what Why is it okay

Why is it okay forcould you explain what Can you repeat what Why do you think Who can explain this

Who can explain this usingwhat Can you repeat what Why do you think Why is it okay for Does anyone

Does anyone have the same answer but a different way to explain it?do you think Why is it okay for Who can explain this using Can you convince

Can you convince us that your answer makes sense?have the same answer but a different way to explain it? Can anybody see what method

Can anybody see what methodit? Can you convince us that your answer makes sense? How do you think said? Do

How do you thinkus that your answer makes sense? Can anybody see what method said? Do you agree or

said? Do you agree or disagree with the idea? said?

means by that?

said go along with what you were thinking?

said in a different way?

just said in your own words?

did it that way?

to do that?

’s idea?

might have used to come up with that solution?

got his/her solution?

5. Supporting students to make connections (e.g., between a model and a mathematical idea or a specific notation)

a model and a mathematical idea or a specific notation) — How is ’s method similar

How is

’s

method similar to (or different from)

’s method?

How does [one representation] correspond to [another representation]?is ’s method similar to (or different from) ’s method? Can you think of another problem

Can you think of another problem that is similar to this one?[one representation] correspond to [another representation]? How does that match what you wrote on the board?

How does that match what you wrote on the board?you think of another problem that is similar to this one? Can you explain your representation?

Can you explain your representation?this one? How does that match what you wrote on the board? Can you use the

Can you use the [representation] to explain what you are thinking?you wrote on the board? Can you explain your representation? How is this similar to what

How is this similar to what we learned aboutuse the [representation] to explain what you are thinking? How is this related to [a particular

How is this related to [a particular problem students already solved or something students already learned]?Can you use the [representation] to explain what you are thinking? How is this similar to

?

How does that relate to what said?

How does that relate to what

said?

How can we make a [picture, graph, model, chart] of this solution?

How can we make a [picture, graph, model, chart] of this solution?

What part of the problem/solution does this [pointing to a particular part of representation] represent?

What part of the problem/solution does this [pointing to a particular part of representation] represent?

of this solution? What part of the problem/solution does this [pointing to a particular part of

6. To guide students and encourage mathematical reflection and reasoning (e.g., make conjectures, state definitions, generalize, prove)

Can you explain the method you used?make conjectures, state definitions, generalize, prove) Does this method always work? Why does that work in

Does this method always work?generalize, prove) Can you explain the method you used? Why does that work in this case?

Why does that work in this case?explain the method you used? Does this method always work? When do you think that would

When do you think that would be true?this method always work? Why does that work in this case? Do you notice any patterns?

Do you notice any patterns?work in this case? When do you think that would be true? What do these solutions

What do these solutions have in common?do you think that would be true? Do you notice any patterns? Can this method be

Can this method be used for other problems?notice any patterns? What do these solutions have in common? What do we mean when we

What do we mean when we sayhave in common? Can this method be used for other problems? What math terms help us

What math terms help us to talk about that? Did you learn any new words today?be used for other problems? What do we mean when we say What do you mean

What do you mean byus to talk about that? Did you learn any new words today? Does this match our

Does this match our reasoning? How?that? Did you learn any new words today? What do you mean by Have we found

Have we found all the possible answers?What do you mean by Does this match our reasoning? How? How do you know it

How do you know it works in all cases?our reasoning? How? Have we found all the possible answers? What about [counterexample]? How would you

What about [counterexample]?the possible answers? How do you know it works in all cases? How would you describe

How would you describeyou know it works in all cases? What about [counterexample]? Can you represent the solution in

Can you represent the solution in another way?cases? What about [counterexample]? How would you describe Using this problem as an example, what can

Using this problem as an example, what can you say about problems like this in general?you describe Can you represent the solution in another way? What are the main ideas that

What are the main ideas that you learned about today?what can you say about problems like this in general? in math class? ? Can you

in math class?

? Can you give a definition?

’s method?

7. Extending students’ current thinking, and assessing how far they can be stretched—

Can you think of another way to solve this problem?thinking, and assessing how far they can be stretched— Can you use this same method to

Can you use this same method to solveCan you think of another way to solve this problem? What would happen if the numbers

What would happen if the numbers were changed toto solve this problem? Can you use this same method to solve What if the problem

What if the problem was like this instead: [give slight variation of problem]?to solve What would happen if the numbers were changed to If someone said [wrong answer],

If someone said [wrong answer], how would you respond?was like this instead: [give slight variation of problem]? If we notice/know Can you predict the

If we notice/knowIf someone said [wrong answer], how would you respond? Can you predict the next one? Can

Can you predict the next one?[wrong answer], how would you respond? If we notice/know Can you think of another problem that

Can you think of another problem that could be solved with this method?[wrong answer], how would you respond? If we notice/know Can you predict the next one? ?

?

?

then what does that mean for

?