Let's get them really wondering about what makes the math work!
The first one, writing in sentences, they really do not like (sorry, kids!) but it works so well and is SO important. The other ideas are ones that the students really do enjoy and request. I love to see a class really engrossed in trying to figure something out and ENJOYING IT!!
When questions are worded the right way, you can succeed with getting your students to write out real answers. Here are some samples (from my Pre-Algebra Question Pack) - Try writing a few test questions or Warm-Ups that sound like this:
Turn the Tables
- Given the final conclusion that triangle ABC is congruent to triangle DEF, write two different sets of possible given information that would lead to this result.
- Write two different expressions containing like terms that can each be simplified to 3x. Give each of your expressions at least three terms and include both positive and negative coefficients.
- Give two different numbers that will have both a 3 and a 7 in their prime factorization.
- Write two different equations that both have the same solution.
"Always," "Sometimes," or "Never" True?
Is the statement always true, sometimes true, or never true?
- "A noun is followed by a verb."
- "An atom that has lost one electron is an ion."
- "The product of two numbers is greater than both original numbers."
This works well with partners. They will make sure to test every case they can think of to see if a statement can sometimes be true.
I developed some activity sheets with statements. To make it a little more fun, I added coloring. Students color each circle according to the directions and end up with a pattern for quick checking. Classes really seem to love this, and the higher level questioning and thinking that you can hear as they test cases is amazing!
Here is a link to the pre-created puzzles in my store.
If you would like to make your own, here is a FREE template to download.
... the PAUSE...
Get your students intrigued, and then sit back and wait. Do not always give the answer. At first they may be surprised that you are withholding information, but resist the urge to always tell.
When students figure out a concept for themselves, they remember it better, and they understand it better. Try some of the wordings below:
"There is a formula for surface area of a cube, but I am not going to tell you what it is. Now that you know what the term "surface area" means, use the nets in front of you and develop a formula."
"There is a formula using distance, rate, and time. You need "d," "r," "t," "=," and one basic operation. Think it out with your partner using this word problem about driving at a rate of 25 miles per hour. See if you can write a formula that works and seems reasonable. Then explain to the class."
"Now that I have explained zero pairs to you, use the manipulatives on your desk to model the integer addition and subtraction problems on the worksheet. Then write a set of rules for adding and subtracting integers based on the patterns that you observe."
Read more about inquiry strategies using the links below.