I just finished a huge month-long fraction unit with my class, and I really worked hard to get to know my students as "fraction experts". This took time and, most importantly, it took lots and lots of questions on my part to really try to get to know my students as learners.
|We drew . . .|
|We sorted . . .|
|We critiqued . . .|
|We "proved" . . .|
|We modeled . . .|
|We even debated!|
And what was I doing while all these things happened? I watched. I took notes. I took photos (I am a very visual "rememberer"!) and I planned based on what I saw. So what was at the root of all of this? I truly believe that over the last 20 years of teaching, I have learned how best to QUESTION my students to get to know them as mathematicians. I have watched the type of questions I ask evolve as I have grown as a teacher. No longer do I ask questions that are purely related to the ANSWER such as
What did you get?
Did you get it right?
Instead, I try to to ask the kinds of questions that accomplish other goals. I want to know things like--
Are they stuck? What do they need to get "unstuck"?
Can they get started?
Can they explain what they have done?
Do they have the right strategies to solve the problem?
Do they know what tools they should be using?
How are they feeling about their status? Are they confident? Frustrated?
It is amazing to watch the students grow as thinkers when I do less of the work! By putting the responsibility back on them, students must take a more active role in their own learning. Confidence grows. Mathematical understanding grows. Self-sufficiency and perseverance become the norm. So, I have a challenge for you! Watch yourself in the next few math lessons you teach. Try to track the kind of questions you are asking. If you think you are in a rut or think that maybe your students aren't doing enough of the work--try printing off the list of questioning prompts I've written up for you! See if you can incorporate more of them into your lessons and see how your students respond. It takes time, a gentle hand, and patience with yourself! Sometimes it's hard to relinquish control--but, boy, is it worth it! I've included a link to the questioning prompt freebie below. I'd love for you to check it out and let me know how it goes!
I would also love for you to see this in action! Stop by my blog and check out some of the fraction posts (there are 16!) to see how I modeled this. If you are looking for even more guidance, I did put all 16 fraction investigations together into a giant unit available for purchase. Reviews have been great and success stories are pouring in! Check it out if you are interested.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful week at school . . . it won't be long before we will be saying goodbye to this group of learners so make the most of every day!
or find me on Twitter at @FourthGrStudio