Open Questions: My First Attempt


I’ve been reading More Good Questions and am so excited about this book!  #sbarbook study Monday nights 9:30 est. on twitter  – the big ideas so far, have been defining open questions and parallel tasks and how easy it is to create them. 

@druinok that’s what I’m enjoying too – very low stress, but HUGE dividends! #sbarbook

@druinok @jmalpass totally agree!!! I think what I’ve gotten out of it the most is rich questions don’t have to be hard for the teacher to do 🙂

Such simple, quick changes – yet great opportunity for thinking at ALL levels!

Today, on a target quiz on slope/rate of change – I made my first planned attempt to use an open question. The last question (no discussion on the first 4 ?s) took us into a great in-depth discussion.  The question was this:

Slope is 4/5. 

Give me two points on the line.

A student asked…does it have a y-intercept?  My response, Does (voice inflection) it have a y-intercept?  When I asked students for responses – I called on this student because I wanted to talk more about his question.  Student stated – its not vertical, so it has to have a y-intercept – even if its (0, 0) – the y-intercept is zero.  Good point.

While students were working – I observed their various stratgies for getting their coordinates- THIS is the part I *LOVED*!!!!  There were graphs, tables of values, slope formulas, and other strange strategies I would have never been aware of – if I hadn’t given this question!  I attempted to call on students with different strategies for getting their solutions.  Even calling on a few I knew had incorrect answers to allow for discussion.  I didn’t have to correct them – other students were able to ask questions.** 

One student looked confused as she asked, “How can we have so many points, but the same slope?”  My answer, “How can we have so many points, but the same slope?”  Another replied – “the lines are different but they have the same slope – so it makes them parallel.”  A concept not included in the objective – but I think it will stick.  On the board graph – students were able to quickly identify points that were not giving the correct slope and able to explain – usually inverted coordinates.

About 1/3 of the class struggled with where to start on this question – but my feeling is as the year goes on and they are given more open questions, I’ll see a higher number successfully attempting it.  One student made a comment on her way out – how ‘seeing other ways really helped (her) to better understand slope and how it works’ –

How difficult was it to come up with the question?  Not at all.  Level of cognitive demand – much higher that #’s 1 – 4; Level of discussion – much more in-depth! 

This idea may be something most of you use in your classroom.  I consider myself a good teacher – but my thinking has shifted – when I’m looking at examples / assessments – my thought is, how can I make this an Open Question???  I will continue to share my experiences initiated through this book!

** When a student sees a mistake another student has made – I encourage them to  question by asking, “What question can you ask them about their work/answer,” rather than tell them what they did wrong.  It gives both students a chance to reflect.


One response »

  1. Pingback: #MTBoS My Favorite: Open Questions & Level-Up Quiz | the radical rational...

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