As we continue to seek ways to help facilitate more collaboration among students, I have been reminded in many subtle ways throughout the school year the underestimated power of understanding through asking questions. How powerful could this be to teach students to do with one another? As we continue to work towards equitable participation among all team members in CPM classrooms, I think an effective strategy could be teaching kids the art of seeking to understand through questioning. Effective teachers use specific questioning techniques to offer differentiation by either supporting teams along or helping them to think deeper about a concept. Why can’t we teach our students to do this with each other?
As young children begin the learning process, they seek to understand the world we live in through inquiry by asking a million questions. The only way they begin to piecemeal our complex world is through how they process the answers to their questions. Why not embrace this same learning style in mathematics classrooms. Let the students do the questioning of each other. For example, the next time a student shares an answer, open up the classroom for questions. I tried this the other day with a number talk of fraction division…½ divided by ¼. A student began sharing a visual model strategy by telling me to draw a rectangle, shade half of it, and then told me to break it up again to get an answer of 2. I stood silently and did nothing. I waited until a volunteer student spoke up to ask the question, “How many pieces should she break the rectangle up into the second time?” This prompted the student to respond by telling me that after half of the rectangle was shaded, I then needed to cut the rectangle into fourths.
My silence forced a student in the classroom to ask the important question for all to better understand the answer of 2. This was a great modeling session for the importance of asking questions! My goal is to take this one step further and seek how students use questioning with each other, without teacher prompting, to allow individuals to better understand the complexity of mathematics!