first days

Hello and welcome to BetterQs! What a great space for us to share our thoughts and stories, struggles and growth as we attempt to become better questioners.

I’m going to try my hardest to #180blog here, and have set a goal to make better questioning a major focus of my professional growth this year. Technically school started yesterday, but since my new school has a block schedule where each class meets every other day, today was really my “second first day of school.” So despite the fact that I’ve had very little time for reflection amidst the chaos of a new year, I wanted to squeeze my first post in just under the wire.

I shared in my #tmc15 session that the inspiration for my focus on improving questioning in my classroom started with two great questions:

“What was the best question you asked a student today?”

“What was the best question a student asked you?”

So short on time, I’ll just share those answers for today.

What stands out when I think of the best question I asked was one that came up after I asked my Precalc class to share what they noticed about the relationship between the sine and cosine of the acute angles in a right triangle. I asked “can anyone take a stab at explaining why that ‘noticing’ might be true?” and the student who volunteered did a nice job getting us started – but his explanation wasn’t completely clear and I wasn’t sure everyone was tracking. Rather than restating what he said, or just giving my own explanation, I asked “is anyone willing to build on the idea _____ just shared?” and another student restated his idea with the kind of clarity that made things click for more in the class.

That’s one I need to remember to add to the arsenal.

The best question a student asked me was one of those things where a student leads you where you were planning to go anyway. In my Geometry class we had done an awesome exploration on the maximum number of intersection points for 2, 3, 4, 5, … lines. After noticing and describing the pattern, and using it to find the number of intersections for up to 10 lines, a bold young freshman threw his hand up and asked, “so, I’m not sure I’m using the correct mathematical words here, but… isn’t there some kind of function or function rule we could use to find the number of intersections? My group tried, but it was really hard to come up with one.” It was a nice segue into some work with visual patterns, and we’ll return to write the rule for that pattern next class. Gotta love a dose of fearlessness from fresh new faces on day 1 of a new school year.

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