Great Questions For Learning
“Interesting questions to engage kids as thinkers” means different things to different people. My math collab teacher and I recently had a conference with a parent and we were describing our math class. When we said her child was really engaged with our problems, her response was ,”Oh, yeah, the word problems.” I was initially confused by that–but thank goodness for my partner–she got it–the parent meant the handshake problem.
Okay, so that started me thinking…my initial thought was that no, we hadn’t been doing word problems. But, I guess you could categorize our shaking hands work as a word problem. Then, my next thought was that all math problems should involve words. Then, I thought, no, when I see a problem on a piece of paper, it’s not necessarily about words. Then I started thinking about what constitutes a word problem and what makes a good question?
We read Counting on Frank earlier in our math class and talked about “Henry questions” which are questions modeled after those in the book. The kids wrote some they thought of here.
The third column is where we’ll go through them and see if we know how to solve such questions–then we’ll do that again at the end of the school year.
But, where do we get good questions to explore? Here’s one source, a book called Good Questions for Math. I especially love the ones that have multiple responses–that’s sometimes a great source of easy differentiation! Here’s another, a pdf about asking effective questions. And, yet another, Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, which is an awesome resource K-8 and would be great for a faculty book study! But I have to say, my absolute favorite source is the kids themselves…when they’re engaged, and trying honestly to figure something out, they ask the best questions. They also cause me to make connections and ask great questions. And what’s better than getting provoked to think deeply?
So here’s a couple of what I think are cool questions that just play around with numbers (and number sense) for you, my reader…
You multiply two integers. The result is about 50 less than one of them. What might the two integers be?
Oh–don’t like that one? Okay, try this–
A shape has some perpendicular sides and some parallel sides. What might the shape be?
Or, try this:
Using the divisibility rule of three, make a five digit number that is a multiple of both three and five.
Do you have any good ones to share, or another source of interesting questions?