Promoting Discourse Through Effective Questioning

Effective questioning

Adapted from NCSM Great Tasks for Mathematics, 6-12 by Schrock, Norris, Pugalee, Seitz, and Hollingshead, 2013

This is also available in the SFUSD Math Teaching Toolkit.

You can promote discourse and stimulate student thinking through effective questioning. This, in turn, develops the habits of mind suggested by the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Here is a list of questions from the Professional Standards in Teaching Mathematics, grouped into categories that reflect the mathematical practices.

❖ Helping students access the problem:
➢ ​What do you already know about this problem?
➢ Can you draw a picture of the situation?
➢ Have you ever solved a problem like this before?

❖ Helping students work together to make sense of mathematics:
➢ What do others think about what Janine said?
➢ Do you agree? Disagree?
➢ Does anyone have the same answer but a different way to explain it?
➢ Do you understand what they are saying?

❖ Helping students to rely more on themselves to determine whether something is mathematically correct:
➢ Why do you think that?
➢ Why is that true?
➢ How did you reach that conclusion?
➢ Can you make a model to show that?

❖ Helping student learn to reason mathematically
➢ Does that always work?
➢ Can you think of a counterexample?
➢ How can you prove that?
➢ What assumptions are you making?

❖ Helping students learn to conjecture, invent, and solve problems:
➢ What would happen if…? What if not?
➢ Do you see a pattern?
➢ What is alike and what is different about your method and her method to solve the problem?
➢ Can you predict the next one? What about the last one?

❖ Helping students to connect mathematics, its ideas, and its applications:
➢ How is this process like others that you have used?
➢ How does this relate to ___________?
➢ Have you ever solved a problem like this before?
➢ Can you give me an example of _________?

Resources for Interaction

Our partners in the Multilingual Pathways Department offer a toolkit designed to support teachers and students as we shift towards a more collaborative and interactive approach to teaching and learning. The toolkit provides guidance, tools, and strategies to help teachers make this shift.

Below are some of our favorite resources:


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This page was last updated on September 15, 2023