Sei sulla pagina 1di 7
Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say! Author(s): STEVEN C. REINHART Source: Mathematics Teaching in

Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say! Author(s): STEVEN C. REINHART Source: Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, Vol. 5, No. 8 (APRIL 2000), pp. 478-483 Published by: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41180868 .

Accessed: 23/05/2013 10:10

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

.

information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

STEVEN С. REINHART FTER EXTENSIVE PLANNING, I PRE- Before long, I noticedthatthefamiliarteacher- '
STEVEN
С. REINHART
FTER EXTENSIVE PLANNING, I PRE-
Before long, I noticedthatthefamiliarteacher-
'
sentedwhatshouldhavebeena master-
'" £}*?:% piece lesson.I workedseveral examples
centered, direct-instructionmodeloftendidnotfit
wellwiththe more in-depthproblems and tasks
v
on the overhead projector, answered
thatI was using. The informationthatI had
gath-
every student's question in
greatdetail,
and ex-
ered also
suggestedteaching in nontraditional
plained the concept so clearly that surelymy stu-
ways. Itwasnot enough toteachbettermathemat-
dentsunderstood.The next
day,however, it be-
ics;
I alsohadtoteachmathematicsbetter. Making
came obvious that the studentswere
totally
changes
in instruction proved difficultbecause I
confused.In myearlyyears of teaching, thissitua-
had tolearntoteachin ways thatI hadneverob-
tion happened
all too often.Even
servedor
experienced,challengingmany oftheold
though observations by myprincipal
clearlypointed outthatI was verygood
at explaining mathematicsto my stu-
teachingparadigms. As
I movedfromtraditional
methodsofinstructiontoa more student-centered,
2
dents, knew mysubject matter well, and
really seemedtobe a dedicatedandcar-
problem-basedapproach,many of my studentsen-
joyedmy classesmore. Theyreally seemedtolike
workingtogether,discussing and sharing their
i
ingteacher,something was wrong.My
I
studentswere capable of learning much
morethan theydisplayed.
interesting,
tual,problems thatI posed. The small changes that
ideasandsolutionstothe
oftencontex-
I
implemented each yearbegan toshowresults.In
five years,
I had
almost completelychanged both
whatandhowI was teaching.
'l
ImplementingChange overTime
Ia-
о
THE LOWLEVELSOF ACHIEVEMENT
of many studentscausedmeto question
TheFundamentalFlaw
howI was teaching, and my searchfora
ATSOMEPOINTDURINGTHIS METAMORPHOSIS,
m
m
'i о о
better approachbegan.Making a com-
|o
mitmentto
change
10
percent of my
concludedthata fundamentalflawexistedin my
teaching methods.WhenI wasinfrontoftheclass
I
о
I
teaching each year,
I
began
to collect
demonstrating and explaining, I was learning a
anduse materialsandideas
gathered from supple-
greatdeal,
but many of my studentswerenot!Even-
ments,workshops,professionaljournals, and uni-
tually, I
concludedthatif my studentsweretoever
versity classes.Each
year,mygoal
was
simply to
really learn mathematics,they wouldhavetodothe
teacha
singletopic ina
better way thanI hadthe
explaining, and /, the listening.My
definitionofa
year before.
good
teacherhas since changed from"onewhoex-
plainsthings so wellthatstudentsunderstand"to
"onewho
gets
studentsto
STEVE REINHART, Steve _reinhart@wetn.pbs.org, teaches
explainthings so well
mathematicsat Chippewa Falls Middle School,Chippewa
Falls, WI 54729. He is interestedin the teachingofalge-
braic thinking at themiddleschoolleveland in the profes-
sional developmentof teachers.
that they canbe understood."
Getting middleschoolstudentsto explain their
thinking andbecome actively involvedinclassroom
discussionscan be a
challenge.By nature, these

478 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

û 1 I ¡ il
û
1
I
¡
il

studentsareself-consciousandinsecure.Thisinse-

curity and the effectsof

tendto discourage involvement.To

theseandother roadblocks, I havelearnedto ask

thebest possiblequestions andto applystrategies

that require allstudentsto

participate.Adopting the

goals and implementing

tioningtechniques thatfollowhave helped me de-

the strategies and ques-

negativepeer pressure

get beyond

velop

same

atea classroom atmosphere inwhichstudentsare

activelyengaged in

comfortablein

questions, and taking risks.

and

improvemyquestioning skills.At the

mecre-

time, these goals and strategieshelp

learning mathematicsandfeel

sharing and discussingideas,asking

QuestioningStrategies ThatWorkforMe

ALTHOUGHGOOD TEACHERSPLANDETAILED

lessonsthatfocusonthemathematical content, few

takethetimeto plan to use

techniques ona regular basis. Improvingquestion-

specificquestioning

skillsis difficultand takes

ing time, practice, and planning. Strategies thatworkonce will

giuucnw CfnHotlfc

fool ICCI

work again and again.Making a

listof good ideas and strategies

COITlfOrtâblC

-

-

thatwork,revisiting thelist regu- St1âril1§ d ПО

larly, and planning to practice se-

lected

techniques in daily lessons **"bť

¡(163S

fijcAiiccing

*•*

"bť 11ЬЫ

11ЬЫ I

Ig

I Ig

willmakea difference.

Createa plan. The following is a

listofremindersthatI haveaccumulatedfromthe manyoutstanding teacherswithwhomI have workedoverseveral years. I revisitthislistoften. Noneoftheseideasis new, andI can claim none,

except thefirst one, as

my own. Althoughimple-

mentinganysinglesuggestion fromthislist may

notresultin majorchange, used together, these

suggestions can help

tempting to change toomuchtoofast may resultin frustrationandfailure. Changing a littleata time by

transforma classroom.At-

VOL. 5, NO. 8 APRIL 2000

479

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

selecting,practicing, and

gies orskillsbefore moving ontootherscanresult

in continual, incremental growth.Implementing

oneortwo techniques ata timealsomakesiteasier

forstudentsto

tationsandstandards being established.

refining oneortwostrate-

accept and adjust tothenew expec-

1. Never say anything a kidcan say! This one

goalkeeps mefocused. Although I donotthinkthat

I

haveevermetthis goalcompletely in any one day orevenina given class period, ithas forcedmeto

develop and improvemyquestioning skills.Italso

sendsa message tostudentsthattheir participation

l|
l|

is essential. Every timeI am

to tellstudents something, I

aska question instead.

tempted

try to

2. Ask

good questions. Good

questionsrequire morethanrecall-

ing a factor reproducing a skill. By askinggood questions, I encourage studentsto think about, and reflect

on, themathematics they are learn-

ing. A studentshouldbe abletolearn

from answeringmyquestion, and I

shouldbe able to learn

aboutwhatthe studentknowsor does notknowfromher or his re

sponse. Quite simply, I

questions to get

and to informme aboutwhat they know.The best questions are open-

ended, thoseforwhichmorethan

something

ask good

studentsto think

ThG beSt

one

morethanone

way

to solve the problem or

acceptableresponse

may be possible.

QU6S

HOMO ЭГ6

ОПРП-РпНрН"

"

3. Use

more processquestions

*ап Pr°ductquestions. Product

-

questions

answersora yes orno response or

thosethat rely almost completely on

thosethat require short

memory

studentknows.To findoutwhata studentunder-

stands, I ask processquestions that require thestu- dentto reflect,analyze, and explain hisorherthink-

ing and reasoning. Process questionsrequire

studentstothinkatmuch higher levels.

-

provide littleinformationaboutwhata

4. Replace lectureswithsetsof questions. When tempted to present informationintheformofa lec-

ture, I

"Thetransferofinformationfromthenotesofthe

lecturertothenotesofthestudentwithout passing through themindsofeither."IfI amstill tempted, I

remind myself ofthisdefinitionofa lecture:

480 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

ask

my studentswill actually be listening tome?"

myself the humblingquestion "What percent of

5. Be patient. Waittimeis veryimportant. Al- though somestudents always seemto havetheir

handsraised immediately, mostneedmoretimeto

process their thoughts. IfI always callononeofthe

firststudentswho

whoneedmoretimetothink about, and

responseto,myquestion. Even verycapable stu- dentscan begin to doubttheir abilities, and many

eventuallystopthinking about myquestions alto- gether.Increasing waittimeto fivesecondsor longer canresultinmoreandbetter responses.

volunteers, I am cheating those

process a

Good discussionstake time; at first, I was un- comfortablein taking so muchtimetodiscussa sin-

glequestion or problem. The urge to simply tell my studentsandmoveon forthesake of expedience

was considerable. Eventually, I

valueinwhatI nowrefertoas a "lessis more" phi-

losophy. I

whenI

their

the

thoughts, andreflectonanddefendtheir findings.

began

to see the

nowbelievethatallstudentslearnmore

pose a high-qualityproblem and give them

necessary timeto investigate,process

Share with students reasons for

asking

Studentsshouldunderstandthatall

questions. theirstatementsarevaluableto me, evenif they are

incorrector show misconceptions. I explain thatI

askthem questions becauseI am

continuously eval-

uating whatthe class knowsor does notknow.

Theircomments help memakedecisionsand plan thenextactivities.

my questions andbe involvedin discussions, I cannot use questions to embarrassor punish. Such ques-

tions accomplish littleandcan makeitmorediffi-

culttocreatean atmosphere inwhichstudentsfeel

comfortable sharing ideasand taking risks.Ifa stu-

dentis

student quickly. AsI listentostudentconversations

and observetheir work, I also

have good ideas or commentsto share. Asking a

shy,quiet studenta question whenI knowthathe

orshe has a

building confidenceand self-esteem. Frequently, I

alertthestudentaheadoftime:"That'sa

Fd really like you to sharethatwiththeclass ina

fewminutes."

Teach forsuccess. Ifstudentsaretovalue

struggling to respond, I

moveontoanother

identify thosewho

goodresponse is a greatstrategy for

great idea.

Be

nonjudgmental abouta response or com-

goal is indispensable in encouraging

classroomwherethe

ment.This

discourse. Imaginebeing ina

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

i i i
i
i
i

teachermakesthiscomment:"Wow! Brittni, that

wasa

terrific,insightfulresponse! Who'snext?"Not many middleschoolstudentshavetheconfidenceto

followa response thathasbeen praised so highlyby

a teacher.Ifa student's response revealsa miscon-

ception andtheteacher replies ina

student may be

again. Instead,encourage morediscussionand moveontothenextcomment. Often, studentsdis- agree withone another, discovertheirown errors,

andcorrecttheir thinking.Allowing studentstolis-

tentofellowclassmatesisa

deal with misconceptions

negativeway, the

discouraged from volunteering

farmore positiveway to

than announcing to the

"I'm

hearing thatwe

soonas possible.

classthatan answeris incorrect.Ifseveralstudents

remain confused, I mightsay,

donot agree onthisissue.Yourcommentsandideas

have given mean ideaforan

activity thatwill help

youclarifyyourthinking." I then plan torevisitthe

concept withanother activity as

Try not to repeat students'answers. Ifstu-

dentsaretolistentooneanother and valueone another's input, I

cannot repeat or try to improve g

onwhat theysay. Ifstudentsreal-

i

j

i

i Ib

■-"I blUUei

ize thatI will repeat or

clarify f;f¿ir|fvtheir

whatanotherstudent says,they

no longer havea reasontolisten. ОWO tliïlikïïif^

I mustbe patient andletstudents

clarify theirown thinking anden-

courage themto speak

classmates, not just

louder - I haveheardtheminthehalls!YetI must be carefulnotto embarrasssomeonewitha quiet voice.Because studentsknowthatI never accept

just one response,they think nothing of myasking

paraphrase the soft-spoken com-

to their

to me.Allstudentscan

speak

anotherstudentto

mentsofa classmate.

"Is this the right answer?" Studentsfre-

usual

response to

you

quently ask this question.My

this questionmight be that"I'mnotsure.Can

VOL. 5, NO. 8 APRIL 2000

481

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

explainyourthinking tome?"Assoonas I tella stu-

dentthattheansweris

students explain their thinkingclearly, I

'Whatif?" question to encourage themto extend their thinking.

I remind my stu-

dentsofthis expectationregularly. Whetherwork-

ing

thewhole class, each studentis

tributehisorherfairshare.Because

dentsofthis expectation is not enough, I also

larlyapply severalofthe followingtechniques:

correct,thinkingstops.

ask a

If

Participation is not optional!

in small groups or

discussing a problem with

expected to con-

reminding stu-

regu-

a problem with expected to con- reminding stu- regu- NO 0П6 £ ■ £■ ■ ■

NO 0П6

£

£■

ban

finished

oil лип

an лип

¡S

Until

ovni

expiam

the SOllltiOn

think-pair-share strat-

egy. Whole-group discussionsare

usuallyimprovedbyusing thistech- nique. WhenI pose a new problem; present a new project,task, oractiv-

ity; or simply aska question, allstu- dentsmustthinkandwork indepen-

dently first.In the

students beginworkingtogether on a task always alloweda fewstudents to sitbackwhileotherstookover. Requiring studentsto workalone

firstreducesthis problembyplacing

the

each student.This

worktime mayvary froma fewmin- utesto theentireclass period, de- pending onthetask.

1. Use the

past, letting

responsibility for learning on

independent

Afterstudentshavehad adequate

independently,they

partners or join

timeto work

are

paired

with

small groups. Inthese groups, each

studentis

required

to

report his or

her findings orsummarizehisor

21in 21 ^ers°lution process. Whenteams

havehadthechancet0sharetheir

thoughts insmall groups, wecome

together as a classtoshareourfind-

ings. I

simply ask onestudentto

do notcallforvolunteersbut

report on

a

significantpoint discussedinthe group. I might say,"Tanya, will you sharewiththeclass one im-

made?"or "James,

please

you." Students generally feelmuchmoreconfident

in stating ideaswhenthe

sponse is

Using the think-pair-sharestrategyhelps me

the message that participation

portantdiscoveryyourgroup

summarizeforus whatAdamsharedwith

responsibility forthere-

being sharedwitha partner or group.

send

is not optional.

A modifiedversionofthis strategy alsoworksin

whole-group discussions.IfI donot get the responses

482 MATHEMATICSTEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

thatI expect, eitherin quantity or quality, I give stu- dentsa chanceto discussthe question in small

groups. Onthebasisofthe difficulty

theymay haveas littleas fifteensecondsoras

severalminutesto discussthe question withtheir

partners. This strategy has helpedimprove discus-

ofthe question,

long as

sionsmorethan any othersthatI

have adopted.

2. Ifstudentsor groups cannotanswera ques-

tionor contributeto the discussionin a way,they mustaska question oftheclass.I

thatitis all right tobe confused, butstudentsare

responsible for askingquestions that mighthelp themunderstand.

positive

explain

Alwaysrequire studentsto ask a question

when they need help. Whena student says, "I don't

getit," heorshe mayreally be

easyway to do thisso I don'thaveto think."Ini-

im-

don't get it."Studentssoonreal-

provement over"I

tially,getting studentstoaska question is a big

ize that my standards require themtothinkabout

the problem in enoughdepth toaska question.

3.

saying, "Showmean

4. Require several responses to thesame ques-

tion.Never acceptonly one response toa question. Always askforother comments,additions, clarifica- tions,solutions, ormethods.This request isdifficult forstudentsatfirstbecause they havebeencondi-

tionedtobelievethat only oneansweriscorrectand

that only onecorrect way is

lem. I explain thatforthemto become better

thinkers,they needto investigate the manypossible

ways of thinking abouta

dentsusethesamemethodtosolvea problem,they

rarelyexplain their thinking in exactly the same way.Multipleexplanationshelp otherstudentsun-

derstandand clarify their thinking. One goal is to

createa student-centeredclassroomin whichstu- dentsare responsible fortheconversation.To ac-

complish this goal, I try nottocommentaftereach

response. I simplypause

denttooffercomments.Ifthe pause alonedoesnot

generate further discussion, I

"Whatdo you thinkabout

possible tosolvea prob-

problem. Eveniftwostu-

andwaitforthenextstu-

mayask, "Next?"or

's idea?"

5. No oneina group is finisheduntil everyone in

work together, communi-

learning of any one person is

encouragement to develop valuable

the group can explain anddefendthesolution.This

ruleforcesstudentsto

cate, andbe responsible forthe learning of every-

oneinthe group. The

oflittlevalueunlessitcanbe communicatedtooth-

ers, andthosewhowouldratherworkontheirown

oftenneed

communicationskills.

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

6. Use hand signals often. Using hand

(a

signals -

thumbs up or thumbsdown

meansTm

First,by requiring all studentsto respond with

hand signals, I

Second,byobserving the

how many studentsare

understand. Watching students'facesas they think

abouthowto

horizontalthumb

not sure") - accomplishes two things.

ensurethatallstudentsareontask.

responses, I canfindout

havingdifficulty ordo not

respond is veryrevealing.

7.Never carry a

pencil. IfI carry a pencil withme

or pickup a studenťs pencil, I am tempted todothe workforthestudent. Instead, I musttaketimeto

ask thought-provokingquestions thatwilllead to understanding.

8.Avoid answeringmy own questions.Answering my own questionsonly confusesstudentsbecauseit

requires themto guess which questions I really want themtothink about, andI wantthemtothinkabout

all myquestions. I

alsoavoidrhetorical questions.

9.Ask

questions ofthewhole group. Assoonas I question toan individual, I suggest tothe

directa

restofthestudentsthat they areno longerrequired

tothink.

groupresponses.Group re-

sponses lowerthelevelofconcernandallowsome studentstohideandnotthinkabout myquestions.

10.limittheuse of

11.Do notallowstudentstoblurtoutanswers.A

studenťsblurtedoutansweris a signal totherest

oftheclassto

thishabitmustrealizethat they are

studentsofthe right tothinkaboutthe question.

stopthinking. Studentswho develop

cheating other

Summary

LIKEMOSTTEACHERS,I ENTEREDTHETEACHING

profession becauseI careaboutchildren.Itis only

naturalformetowantthemtobe

merelytelling them answers,doingthings for

them, or showing them shortcuts, I relievestudents

oftheir responsibilities andcheatthemofthe

portunity to makesense ofthemathematicsthat

they are learning. To help

learning, I

to

directly on

childrenlearnin more ways thanI knowhowto

teach. Bylistening to them, I not onlygive themthe

successful, but by

op-

students engage inreal

mustask

goodquestions, allowstudents

for learning

struggle, and place the responsibility

theirshoulders.I am convincedthat

to developdeepunderstanding

butalso

develop true insights intowhat they

opportunity

am able to

knowandhow they think.

Q ; cr (Л ë : к j о I (Л i ? i i
Q
;
cr
ë :
к j
о
I
i
?
i
i
Q.
I

Making extensive changes in curriculumand

challengingprocess. Muchcanbe

instructionis a

learnedabouthowchildrenthinkand learn, from recent publications about learningstyles,multiple intelligences, andbrainresearch. Also, severalre- formcurriculum projects funded by theNational ScienceFoundationare nowavailablefrom pub- lishers. The ConnectedMathematics Project, Mathematicsin Context, and Math Scape, to namea few,artfully addressissuesofcontentand

pedagogy.

Bibliography

Burns, Marilyn. Mathematics:For Middle School. New Rochelle, N.Y.: CuisenaireCo. of America, 1989. Johnson, David R. Every MinuteCounts.Palo Alto, Calif.:

Dale SeymourPublications, 1982. NationalCouncil ofTeachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics. Reston, Va.: NCTM, 1991.(D

VOL. 5, NO. 8 APRIL 2000

483

This content downloaded from 129.130.252.222 on Thu, 23 May 2013 10:10:38 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions