My colleagues recently blogged about Noticing and Wondering in High School (Max – @maxmathforum) and Noticing and Wondering in Elementary School (Annie – @MFAnnie) and as I read both of their blogs, so much of what they write about applies to a middle school classroom. In my experience the biggest bang for your buck in using this strategy is engagement of all students! As I’ve worked in elementary classrooms the feel is a little different from middle school — the younger the students the more I feel I’m tapping into enthusiasm that hasn’t been dampened yet. As I work with fifth grade or sixth or seventh or eighth graders I often feel that there are more years of disappointment and/or disillusionment that have to be countered.

- I notice … (and she valued one thing in their submission).
- I wonder … (and she asked one question hoping students would reflect and revise/add to their submission).

- some gauge of student reaction to what you did (of course, from your viewpoint)
- some prediction of what students will do during your next session
- some reflection on what you predicted and what you now observed

It turned out that Erin’s quick (5 minutes tops!) reflection on what happened in class helped her work through the process. I found it interesting to read (and now I have something to look back on and refer to for this post) … but … Erin and I both agree that the time she took to write her own “teacher exit ticket” was most valuable for her.

Here are some excerpts:

**day 4**

**day 6**

**day 9**

**day 10**

**day 11**

**day 15**

*This is the activity Erin was using*: Ostrich Llama Count–Examining Solution Methods]

**Suzanne’s response to Erin on day 15**

Some of my previous blog posts on the I Notice, I Wonder™ theme:

[...] and Wondering’ strategy employed at the Math Forum, head over to Suzanne’s blog post to check it out. Suzanne goes at it from a MS perspective and there are links at the top for this [...]

[...] xkcd. I passed that right on to my husband. Yesterday she shared a link to an article about the ‘Noticing and Wondering’ strategy. That one I read for myself, though I’ll likely share it with some folks at work. And [...]

[...] Powerful Problem Solving, by following Annie Fetter, or at a whole bunch of sites here, here, here, here, here, here, and [...]

I am a resource teacher who works with building teacher capacity by encouraging teachers to keep looking for and finding new ways to engage students in higher level tasks. I have demonstrated the Notice and Wonder strategy and asked teachers to please try it and to invite me to their classrooms.

What’s always fun is that teachers turn in to kids when I put them in a demonstration mode. I used the Dan Meyers 3-act problem about grandmom’s paint. (not the name exactly, I’m sure) The first few ‘noticings’ were things like, ‘oh, his grandmom has a cell phone and texts’. I immediately wrote it down which surprised the teachers. Then I usually have at least one other teacher say something ‘funny’ and again, I write it down. The whole idea is to bring everyone into the party. The same thing happens with the initial ‘Wonderings’. I always have a teachers wonder why the grandson gets red paint in the white which ruins the white paint. I write it down. The idea is to validate that everyone can notice and wonder. And, truth be told, more than one person is noticing and wondering the same silly stuff. Seeing this demonstrated helps the teachers to understand that it’s going to happen, so just don’t react (or laugh, if it’s really funny).

The power comes when the lists are perused for ‘noticings’ and ‘wonderings’ that can be used mathematically.

I need middle school teachers to know that my class clowns initially noticed and wondered things to make others laugh, but as long as they weren’t inappropriate, I wrote them down. Interestingly enough, once the silly students realize that the silly, non-mathematical ideas will be eliminated, they stop giving them as often because they don’t want their ideas eliminated. It’s not failed to work yet. Attention and validation are powerful rewards. Attention and validation because you’ve engaged in the solving of a problem is an even bigger reward.

This activity/tool/habit of mind of What do you notice, What do you wonder is too powerful to give up because 7th grade boys are being 7th grade boys. Go for it! Take the risk!

Leslie, thanks for sharing that story — it’s so helpful to hear from teachers that kids who start off seeing noticing and wondering time as a chance to be silly learn that it can be seriously powerful. And it’s cool to hear about how teachers’ perspective shifts when they get a chance to experience that for their own selves!