Effective questioning for support
Children tend to stop learning for two reasons: they are not sure what to do, or they already know it.
Effective questioning for support is a vital tool in supporting children who might be struggling with an idea or calculation. Even though direct instruction is important in children’s learning, we can pose questions that support children to continue learning.
So for an equation like 5 + 8 = 13, you can ask the following questions.
Can you model the problem?
Can you show me the problem using concrete materials? Always be aware that materials need to be appropriate to the problem. For this particular problem, ten frames work nicely.
Can you model this part of the problem?
Breaking up the problem can allow a learner to not only access the problem again, but it also allows them to attend to small parts that are manageable and make the bigger idea easier to learn.
In this case the learner could make 8 on a ten frame to see that it can be arranged as 5 and 3 (Figure 1). Or you could ask the learner to make 5 in a pairwise arrangement so they can see 5 as 3 and 2 (Figure 2).
What do you notice?
This is a great example of effective questioning for support as there may be a number of aspects a child could notice. For example, if we ask them to make the problem using ten frames, we can draw attention to the gaps in the ten frame as well as the counters. They may notice there are only two gaps in one ten frame.
Is that the first frame to fill? They may notice that questions that involve making ten always have enough counters to fill one ten frame.
We could also ask what they notice about the answer. In this instance, an odd number and an even number make an odd total. What do they notice about two evens? What about two odds? This pattern spotting is not only important to maths but also provides valuable practice while the investigation takes place.