Thursday, June 27, 2013

Building Mathematical Questioning Chapter 4

Asking Questions

This chapter was so dense with information, I am not sure where to begin. Let me start by saying that I am so glad to see a renewed interest and emphasis on student generated questions. I know that this is an area that I can continue to grow in.  Having taught grades 1st though 6th, I agree with Sammons that it is concerning to see how students begin to ask fewer questions as they get older. So, what can I (we) do to improve this?
  • Teach students to ask question. 
  • Asking questions is a skill that can be developed. No one is hopeless :)
  • We don't always have to have the answers. Good, because sometimes I really don't have an answer.
  • Ask questions that have depth and purpose. This is on the part of the teacher- it requires content knowledge and planning.
  • Spend more time looking for the right question than the right answer.
I was reminded, that I must be intentional about the questions I ask and more explicit in explaining to my students the importance of asking questions. I love that more and more of my students see themselves as mathematicians. Because they are! But I want them to believe it to their core. Sammons shared specific ways how mathematicians use questioning. I already envision an amazing anchor chart :) Mathematicians ...
  • are purposeful and spontaneous in their questions. They ask questions 24/7 before, during, and after math
  • ask questions for many reasons
  • keep thinking about a question even after they have one right answer
  • understand further exploration of a question may be needed 
  • understand that collaboration inspires new thinking and learning
Wow! Isn't math awesome!! Sammons offers such relevant strategies in this chapter- I have to encourage teachers to read it and find out how fantastic this book is.

As I was reading this chapter, I though of how I want to use thinking stems more consistently this coming school year. I work with a large English Language Learner (ELL) population and having been and ELL myself I know that I often struggled with the words to get my point across or generate a question. So, I created a "Fan Tags Book" with Thinking Stems that each of my students can use as a resource for asking questions. I hope they will become part of their math journals. This past year, I made a concerted effort to use math journals in a way that it would truly serve as a resource to  to my students. I have a manila folder stapled to the front where students store their math manipulative for easy and quick access. Just click on the pic to download.

Tanny McGregor, author of Comprehension Connections has great quotes in her book that encourage the art of asking questions. Here's one:

The important thing is not to stop questioning. 
-Albert Einstein, physicist


  1. I think the novelty of the design for these thinking stems will really hook students. Thank you for sharing this resource.

  2. Another great post! I haven't had a chance to read the chapter yet as we just moved and are unpacking but your post makes me very excited to find some time to get to it.
    Love the fans!
    Thinking of Teaching

  3. Thanks Beth! I am so thankful that you read my post and even more thankful knowing how busy you are.

    2 Smart Wenches

  4. These are so cool! As I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of maybe a poster of thinking stems....but I like these much, much better!
    Thanks for sharing & thanks for posting this chapter!!

    Primary Inspired


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