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Doll up maths

Teachers normally ask the questions. It goes with the job. But how many do children ask? Not enough. It's in their job description too but many of them don't know that.

Many of the questions children ask tend to be "how?" and "why?" But we need to remind them that they have a responsibility to ask a range of questions in order to build knowledge and make new connections.

One way to kick-start children's thinking is to provide them with examples of investigative question trunks, rich starting points that will produce a wealth of responses. Some examples include: How do you know that?

I wonder whether?

What is the difference between a and b?

Can you prove that?

Is it always true that?

What would happen if?

Can you explain?

Do you think?

The idea is that children glue their own endings to the question trunks that help them branch into new lines of inquiry. When children habitualise this way of working they start to adopt a Russian stacking doll approach to their maths where one question leads to another.

Display some question trunks in class and get children to start using them.

There's no question they'll be more motivated to learn

John Dabell is a numeracy consultant and teacher trainer

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