Small Changes

If working on better questions seems like another overwhelming task added to your pile, here are some small changes you can try.

Every class period, ask yourself “Did I listen more than I talked?”. Make that a daily goal.

When starting a lesson, ask “What do you notice?”

When finishing a lesson, say “Ask me questions!” as a positive expectation.

When planning a lesson, think about what questions you can ask that will provoke the most disagreement or conversation.

When starting class, use interesting pictures as a bell ringer (check out and ask “What’s the first question that comes to mind?” Then ask “What’s the most interesting question you can think of?”

Every time you ask a question to a student, can you think of one more? Can you stretch yourself to ask more questions as a model to your students to ask more questions?

Remember that you are dealing with humans who are not fully formed, but are still humans…ask questions that aren’t about math. Show interest. Build community.

Be a betterT who asks betterQs!


4 thoughts on “Small Changes

  1. Here is another debrief question — a bit easier to answer if you are an observer, since it is tough to monitor while acting as the instructor: At any point in a whole class discussion, did three students speak consecutively about mathematics?

    It’s tough to break free from the “IRE” pattern that characterizes many purportedly discussion-based classes. If the discussion is going well, then you may observe students talking to each other about mathematics. But to have three students speak in a row — about mathematics — is a very healthy indicator, I think!


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