Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Open Ended Questions

At the end of June, I had the fortune to meet Marian Small while participating in High School Math Institute in Red Deer, AB.  I absolutely love her approach to Mathematics which focuses on creating open ended questions and parallel tasks.  Today, I'm going to focus on creating open ended questions.

I had a few samples of her open-ended questions from the session but wanted more so I went to her website in order to check out her other workshop presentations. (She uploads all over her presentations).  I received one of her books because I video taped my class for presentation as part of the High School Math Institute.  However, this book is tucked away at home so I was unable to use it today.

Today, I was busy creating a Junior High Math Pedagogy presentation so was looking for and creating questions for Grade 7-9. 

A little background on Marian Small's style...Create questions that allow for students to answer at their own level.  This means that the questions have to be specific enough for you to tell if they understand the big idea but general enough that everyone can complete it. 

Some examples:
  • Original question:  3x + 5 = 11.  You might rework it to "An expression has a solution of 11 when p=2.  What are at least two possibilities for the expression?
  • Original question:  A cylinder has a radius of 5 cm, height of 8 cm.  What is the volume?  You might rework it to be:  A cylinder has a volume of 200 cm squared.  What could the dimensions be?
  • You put some counters in a bag.  You want the probability of choosing a red to be 0.4.  What might you put in the bag?
These are just a few samples of the questions I have added to my presentation.  I will add the final list once I am done my presentation.

My challenge to you:  Look at the curriculum you are working with.  Find one big idea you want to focus on.  Take a typical question and turn it into an open-ended question. 

I would love to see what you've done!  Share the grade level, original question and your new open-ended question below in the comments!

Also, if you know of any great websites where there's already a bunch of questions made, please feel free to share those links as well.

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