EXPLAINING DOES NOT EQUAL UNDERSTANDING
The music and sound protectionists in this video with Destin Sandlin (scientist and educator) show how he helped them not only learn about but understand and live … Acoustic Levitation!
If Destin would have simply explained Acoustic Levitation it would not guarantee that the team from American Idol will understand—even if his explanation was clear, patient, and logical. Telling—and even showing—them something just gets things started. Having the person do something is also necessary.
But—remember—math is thinking with numbers and “shapes”.
What really makes people think?
Asking Questions in Math
OK, sure, problems and challenges of all sorts make people think, too, but they do that because they pose a kind of question. Something like, “What should I do now?” Life throws a lot of stuff like that at us.
So does math and so does learning math or any new concept like acoustic levitation.
- explains why questions are so important in learning math,
- shows you the kinds of questions you can ask the students you work with,
- provides tools and activities to help you begin to do it yourself.
- has the potential to inspire students to ask themselves good questions when they run into difficulties.
- encourages relevant conversation—an interchange among students and educators about the facts, ideas, and learning challenges in the lesson.
- allow you to check in on a student’s understanding
It’s important to CONTINUALLY CHECK IN to determine
- whether you or the teacher can move ahead with instruction
- whether it’s time to stop
- whether it is time to review or reteach some of the math content.
WAIT TIME IS KEY
When asking good questions, it is important to wait for and to encourage students to answer.
Wait time can actually provide room for a bad question to turn into a better one.
Why? The point is not that any question be fair, good, or best.
The point is that it should stimulate relevant conversation—so we can see what students are thinking and help them think more clearly. It is important to note, however, that wait time is an effective tool, but
WAIT TIME should not be used to push students to a point of frustration.