Fostering questioning and curiosity

Dan Meyer’s post on The Unengagables prompts this response:

Students are curious. We just have to give ourselves permission to allow them to pose questions and wonder. A couple of years ago I asked my 7th graders to complete the stem “I wonder…”  The initial purpose was to create a Prezi

for fall open house, but I soon realized it would be more powerful to examine these questions throughout the year—and did so. Note: past tense.

Reading his post reminded me that I used to do this and I’m now asking myself why did I stop? 

Summer allows us to recalibrate. I’m going back to basics by reviewing Annenberg Learner videos to remind myself of the power of curiosity and discovery.  I’m also reading Mark Driscoll’s Fostering Algebraic Thinking. By coincidence both used the Eric the Sheep problem. I’m planning on using it and other curious algebraic thinking puzzles throughout the year.  

It’s a hot summer day, and Eric the Sheep is at the end of a line of sheep waiting to be shorn.  There are 50 sheep in front of him.  Being an impatient sort of sheep, though, every time the shearer takes a sheep from the front of the line to be shorn, Eric sneaks up two places in line. How many sheep get shorn before Eric?

I plan to tweak these activities into groupworthy tasks. Hopefully they will foster questioning and curiosity.

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2 thoughts on “Fostering questioning and curiosity

  1. Mary – Thanks for your post! In past years I’ve been the teacher leader championing students and encouraging teachers … but then moved, and found myself in a challenging position. Negativity began to creep in – and that’s just not who I am. I asked myself a question similar to yours … I used to do … when did I stop? What did I stop?

    I’m excited about this summer … now that I know better what skills I need in this new setting, I can prepare myself, and develop plans to foster positive responses to math including curiosity and questioning!

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