Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Key

"In Mathematics, we should ask a great deal of how questions instead of why questions."

Our last faculty conference focused on the types of questions we should ask, questions that encourage high level thinking.  It got me thinking about the types of questions I use in class and whether my questioning technique did this.   I was disappointed in myself when I realized how many of my questions fell short of this goal.  How and what are the words I say the most.  I do ask quite a few why questions was pretty sure that these were good ones.  When I start something new, and see a grimace, I ask what they don't like about the problem?  Then I ask how we can get rid of that problem?  I follow up with a why does that help?  Truthfully, while I always did well in math, I never did great until I started understanding the why and have incorporated this word into every lesson thinking knowing why would help increase my students understanding of material.

The above sentence was included in our departmental memo, the one that came right after the conference.  I never studied Bloom's Taxonomy, but I thought my questions were good.  I've been trying to work some of the higher level questions into my lessons but I won't do it at the expense of why.   That one word, why, as far as I am concerned, is the key to understanding.


Anonymous said...

You made the point very clear and to to the point (like you always do)in this point about higher level thinking skills.

What is the exact point of asking higher level questions if children (pre-k-12) do not have the knowledge and understanding first? Benjamin Bloom is probably rolling over in his grave if he knew what questioning strategies turned into now.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I didn't even know Bloom had a first name and had no clue whether he was dead or alive. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

How comes first, but why is the most important question.

The why question is at a high order of thinking than the how. You can try and explain that to your AP.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Bloom's Taxonomy is based on Benjamin Bloom whose questioning strategies have been around for years. He is one of the theorists who is supposedly used in effective teaching strategies. I know some people are eerie about applying theory to practices but Benjamin Bloom's hierarchy structure is relevant and accurate for appropriate questions and assessing students. His questioning hierarchy is based on 6 levels almost like a ladder,

I love Bloom's Taxonomy and using the ladder for appropriate questioning strategies. I have had the greatest philosophical discussions with my 4 year olds based on his hierarchy. I explained about 1 of them in my Goodnight Moon post.

I am actually planning on writing a post on Benjamin Bloom and questioning at some point this weekend. I am a little behind with some of my writing posts.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I was implying that I never heard of Bloom but I have been doing his stuff for years. I don't give a rats ass about him or his taxonomy.

Anonymous said...

This is why it is so hard to teach to a test because the kids did time to understand concepts. Years ago, when it was possible, I would not follow the curriculum because I felt the first concept lesson should be place value. We played a lot of exchange games until the kids understood that the zeros had meanings when doing computations.
The other thing I focused on was the vocabulary. Math has a language all its own and if you are doing a word problem, which was hard for my below-level readers, knowing what the words meant helped. Many of my students who were poor readers became great in math. And many of my best readers were not always good in math. The trick was first to make it fun. But that was before test prep and calendars and monthly assessments based on the monthly curriculum.

Bloom teachers to think deeper. Reformers want children to learn wider. It doesn't work that way and to hell with the understanding.
The trick is to take the pressure that is now called testing and instead focus on the progress. I would much rather see meaningful growth than some phony passing test grade.