Addressing Diversity in Math with Open Ended Questions

Our math classrooms are more and more diverse each year. Learners come to us with a range of different experiences and levels of understanding of the mathematics that’s important to know. Meeting the needs can prove challenging. Dr. Marian Small’s book called Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction is an excellent resource for learning how to craft questions to make the math accessible to all – challenging for those who need it, and simplified for others. Check it out for more rich and open tasks to engage children in thinking mathematically across the grades!

This is an incredibly useful teacher resource book. In it, Dr. Small poses open-ended questions across the strands as well as what she terms “parallel tasks”, which present the same math concept at 2 different levels of complexity. It’s a very clever way to include everyone in the mathematical discussion, and can really help when we’re planning for instruction in a combined grade setting. Oh – and did I mention that Marian Small is Canadian??🙂 Her work is in line with the WNCP math curriculum and so makes a great match for anyone teaching math here in Canada.

This selection of questions from Dr. Marian Small’s book are ideal for combined grades settings, since they address big math ideas that are common to side-by-side curricula. Invite your students to represent their thinking with models, pictures and words, and to share what they know with a peer, a small group and/or the class. These questions lend themselves to rich classroom discussions, and can give you as a teacher important assessment data to inform your planning.
Enjoy!
Carole

PS – Marian Small has also authored a companion book for secondary math that’s well worth checking out: MORE Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Secondary Mathematics Instruction.

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