So continuing in the vein from last week of asking the right questions to students in math, in addition to providing students with parallel tasks so they can pick the level of difficulty best for them, it is important to ensure you are including rich tasks in your classroom as well.
According to Leven and Long (1981), teachers spend 80% of their instructional time asking questions and ask on average between 300-400 questions PER DAY. Shouldn’t it stand to reason that the questions we ask actually be ones of quality, ones that drive student learning and encourages them to delve further into the material they’re learning? Or, just as importantly, how do we ask the right questions so that students sitting at their desk with nothing written on their page yet have their eyes light up as they begin to scribble furiously?
Raise your hand if this math/science problem strategy sounds familiar to you:
- Memorize the formula. Knowing what the formula means is optional.
- Memorize the keywords associated with that formula in word problems e.g. sum for addition, difference for subtraction
- Look for those keywords in the question and do the formula.
- Profit! And by profit I mean you get the question marked right, not that you necessarily had any idea what was going on.
As the new school year begins, especially in light of recent EQAO math scores, teachers need to ensure their students have the tools they need to succeed. No, I’m not talking about manipulatives, cheerful colour-coded duotangs, or even tablets. What I’m talking about is their attitudes. Do they believe they can do well in math?
Many people believe that there is such a thing as a “math person”. This mathmagician was born with a protractor in one hand and a graphing calculator in the other, and is good at math just because.