Saturday, January 30, 2016

#MTBoS - Questioning about Polynomial Functions

The MTBoS blogging initiative this week is about questioning strategies in class.  This is an area that I know I need to improve upon.  This year I have really been focusing on trying to be more of a facilitator and not such a lecturer in class.  I know I have a tendency to talk too much and to spoon feed my students too much.  I really want to talk less and make them think and discuss more.  I want to ask the right kinds of questions to make them really think and probe each other.  Baby steps, I keep telling myself.  I know I can't totally revamp every lesson, especially with incorporating a new curriculum in our district this year, so I am making small changes here and there, with the hopes of adding new ideas each year.

Enter our polynomial functions unit.  In the past, I have simply given notes to my students on all the ins and outs of polynomial functions.  I didn't want to do that this year.  I really wanted them to look at the equations and the graphs and figure out the patterns they saw on their own.  I stumbled upon Dylan Kanes post about Polynomial Tasks and really liked his Characteristics in a Table idea, so took that and revamped it to my needs.

After deciding what I wanted them to find in a table, I then asked questions that would hopefully drive them to discover what they needed to know.  I tried to use questions that started with "What do you notice?"  and "What pattern do you see...?"  The day was amazing.  I spoke very little.  I listened a lot and they talked a lot.

I'll discuss more of the lesson itself later, but what made this day so amazing is that the questioning strategies I chose to use really worked.  Instead of telling them to notice something, asked them what they noticed and you know what?  They ended up noticing and figuring out all of the information I would have given them in a set of lecture notes.  I have to say, it was probably my favorite lesson of  the year.

I really want to get better at asking the right questions, and do it more often than I currently do.  


  1. Nice!! I know you are thrilled. They can do it. We must let them.

  2. Sounds like a neat lesson! I am glad that I stumbled upon this since I am doing polynomial functions in the next couple of weeks.