Monday, April 27, 2015

Boston Math Conference - Friday Morning

On Friday morning I was following a trail of people leading me towards the 9:30 session lead by Dan Meyer. I walked into the ballroom and it was completed packed. So I checked in next door (Ballroom A) which also had hundreds of seats, but were mostly empty. The title (Stop answering questions - countering the Google Generation) intrigued me so I sat in but still thinking I would eventually go next door (Ballroom B) for Dan’s inservice-like session about building better lessons involving modeling. But I wound up staying to hear a most interesting session not so much about stopping answering student questions but rather leading discussions with questions that the teacher poses that keep students from asking questions that lead to dead ends. The model for the teaching was the answer to Jon Ail's question. (See image.) It struck home because teaching with questions was my main method of modeling an effective way to generate a discussion with students. This means that you avoid answering questions of students that would take them of the hook for productive thinking. For example, giving answers to problems that students might have come up with on their own. Caveat: thinking for students can be painful if the context is not within their zone of proximal development said Jon Ail one of the session leaders. So the questions teachers ask must be carefully, contexually crafted.

I'm sure Dan's session was very enjoyable session for his participants, but he probably had a lot of answers to offer. I was more intrigued with how questions can deliver productive discussion and resolution. Actually this is also Dan's message which he posts on his website: Dan Meyer - less helpful.

See Jon Ail's and Tifiny Howard's slides here. Thanks, Dan for making the slides easily available.