Great teachers inspire their students to wonder; teachers who do are WONDER-ful.
Materials: (for each pair of students) a length of string, scissors, a ruler, a large paper clip, a penny.
- Step 1: Have partners work together to cut a length of string exactly 36 inches long.
- Step 2: Tie a loop at each end.
- Step 3: Set the ruler to extend over the edge of a desk.
- Step 4: To make a pendulum, loop one end of the string on the end of the ruler. Attach the large paper clip to the other end of the string.
- Step 5: Slip a penny into the clip.
Set the clip to swing and count the number of swings in 15 seconds. Record the results. Repeat several times. Then share and compare your counts with the class.
“I wonder why we got so many different results,” Nan mused.
Hands shot up with ideas.
“What counts as a swing?”
“How far back should we pull the clip?”
“Maybe the strings are not all the same length.”
“Would it make a difference if we used two pennies?”
Students had spontaneously listed VARIABLES for which they could test on the next round.
When a teacher routinely models “I wonder. . .” the way Nan does, students are drawn into the question and invited to think more deeply. Wondering provides an easily-accessible entry point into higher level thinking.
The BEST part of modeling “I wonder” comes when your students start wondering on their own.
“I wonder what would happen if I changed this number.”
“I wonder what would happen if I rotated this hexagon.”
“I wonder why some fractions seem hard and others seem easy.”
“I wonder what the character will do next.”
“I wonder how I would feel in that situation.”
So next time you want to start a class discussion, start by wondering about something in your lesson plan.
From all of us here at MathCoach, have a WONDER-ful Winter Break.
See you again in the new year!