Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why We Need To Listen (2)

So you ask a class of Grade 1/2 students this: "Write a number between 12 and 20." This is what one student replies:

Is this alarming? Er... yes.
Unless you consider what was asked immediately beforehand.

1) Firstly, the brilliant Mr. Stokes had timed how long the class took to get all the materials handed out."Thirty-two seconds: new record!" he said. I asked the students to write this number down.

2) I showed students this and asked them write down the number it represents.

3) Then I asked them to write a number that is bigger than 60 but less than 80.
So for this student, the first three answers were:

At this point, the student then said "Oh! I see the pattern!" But I sort of ignored this and asked the students to write a number between 12 and 20. When I saw the 95 I was a bit alarmed until I asked the student to explain her thinking:
Interesting, eh? The student was so fixated on the pattern that she spotted that she didn't actually hear my question. So I asked her to show me where 95 was on a hundreds chart. She replied, "Right there...oh....wait, I meant to write 15!"
It is so important that we create opportunities so that we can listen to what students are actually thinking (as described in a previous post Why We Need To Listen (1)). Just a quick conversation revealed that the student's answer isn't so alarming as, really, she answered the wrong question.
In fact, I am left with the thought that she is actually pretty good at spotting patterns!