Digital Papers Logo digital papers Home Page


Research Story and Diagram





Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Marian: So, thatʼs a great minds on. Are your strugglers going to be okay with that?
Teacher 1: Well, then if they at least put in two different ways of plugging it in, oneʼs going to be bigger than the other
Marian: Okay
Teacher 2: And you actually only gave them a choice of a few numbers...
Marian: This, I thought it worked. And maybe it worked because we were so clear about what the choice was and about what the differences were
Teacher 1: Right Marian: And I asked a couple kids why they chose B; I didnʼt ask them why they chose A, because I knew why they chose A. I asked them why they chose B and it was mostly because they liked to pick. It was that simple!

Outside Class: Consider the Math Outside Class: Consider the Math Outside Class: Plan Powerful Questions Consider Student Engagement Inside the Classroom: Pose Powerful Questions Inside the Classroom: Consider the Math Inside the Classroom: Respond to Students

Outside the classroom, prior knowledge of students was used to simply predict what their readiness might be and what sorts of contexts or styles would attract engagement.

Teachers tend to want to see their students produce the correct answers. However, when asking questions with one correct answer, only the one answering the question is engaged. Once the question is answered, there's no more need for other students to be engaged. Crafting engagement-focused questions with multiple “right” answers that relate to students’ experiences, can solicit many more responses.

Teachers are often worried about the time it takes to “cover” the material. If students engage in a quick “minds on” activity – the teacher can pool what they already know about a topic. Teachers are concerned about the time this might take, or students will be led down the wrong path. Teachers in this study found that surprisingly – their students’ collective knowledge can be extensive and after hearing their discussions could decide more on what they needed to focus their questions on or what difficulties they may be experiencing. Teachers worked on questions to evoke and expose thinking.

In the first part of this video clip, teachers are considering their struggling learners in the class and how they could ensure that these students are engaged with the task of the “minds on” question. The second part of the video clip shows an excerpt of a debriefing session with Marian Small and the math teacher. They are discussing the benefits of giving choice to the students and how empowering it can be to provide choices in their tasks. It also was important for the teacher to provide clear explanations as to how the choices were different. This helps ensure that the student selects the appropriate task without the teacher telling which task a student should complete.

Inside the Classroom Consider the Math >>