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Book Study: Good Questions for Math Teaching- Algebraic Thinking, Data Analysis and Measurement

jamie and jenn

I’m excited to be back this week to share with you more about Good Questions for Math Teaching: Why Ask Them and What to Ask in Grades 5-8 by Lainie Schuster and Nancy Canavan Anderson (link below on picture of book).

If you missed my last post covering What Are Good Questions and How Do We Create Them, check it out first! Also, if you haven’t ready Jamie’s post from last week on Fractions, Decimals and Percents mixed with Geometry check it out as well!

Chapter 9 is all about Algebraic Thinking and starts with a pretty profound statement, “When we ask students to think algebraically, we are asking them to formalize patterns, analyze change, understand functions and move fluently between multiple representations of data sets.”  Doesn’t that relate to all areas of math? We are always formalizing patterns and representations of data whether we formally realize we are doing it or not.

Having students make predictions in all areas of math is a form of algebraic thinking that doesn’t force them into a formal algebra lesson or activity. When we as teachers ask the “good questions” we spark their want to dive further. Computational practice is important but it is even more important to have our students understand the meaning behind what they are doing.

Mathematical processing standards guide our students to justify their thinking and connect their thinking to prior knowledge. THis can be done at any and all grade levels if done systematically.

Chapter 10 related Data Analysis and Probability with appropriate questioning. Why are good questions important when students are discovering the concepts of Data and Probability? Students must reflect on the actions that are occurring to be able to understand the probability (or chance) in their daily lives.

Data Analysis and Probability is EXTREMELY visual! Not only should students be drawing their thoughts via charts, graphs or number lines but also writing out their thinking. This is where open-ended questions that truly make students think are important.

Incorporating manipulatives is important to help build the visuals in students minds as well… dice, dominoes, marbles, number tiles, spinners, decks of cards and so much more can be used.

And finally we come to Chapter 11 which covers one of the most important areas (in my opinion) that we as teachers need to cover with students. Measurement is a struggle for many and it continues to be a weakness for students throughout the years no matter what grade I have taught.

Questions for measurement need to not only require students to measure but also make connections to what they are measuring and prior knowledge. Measurement can easily be connected to geometry, number systems and analyzing data and therefore we can continue to enforce other skills.

So as to not give too much away, I would suggest that you all grab this book if you are looking for some solid foundations on building on concepts in your 5th-8th grade classroom. The last 5 chapters cover the different strands of mathematics and give strategies on how to stimulate these concepts to be understood with students in your classroom.

Book Study Questions

Don’t miss out on this book. It has definitely changed some of my thinking on how to guide my students to achieve their own success through asking the right questions.

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