Encouraging Mathematical Thinking


  - Approaches
  - Leading Q's
  - Non-leading Q's
  - Paraphrasing
  - Summarizing
  - Listening

 Cylinder Problem
 Lesson Reflections
 Student Predictions

 Project Reflections

 Teacher Resources


Table of Contents

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Interventions: Non-leading Questions

On direct examination, a lawyer is not allowed ask a witness a leading question because the court wants testimony to come directly from the witness, not from a lawyer through his questions. Likewise, in the classroom the goal is for the student to do the thinking. Non-leading questions leave the field completely open and invite student participation in the conversation. They put the responsibility for thinking clearly in the hands of the students.

We think that context determines whether a question is non-leading. Our emphasis is on facilitating student thinking, rather than simply extracting information. When John McKinstry's students bring up the concept of circumference, John follows up with what, in this context, is a non-leading question: "Why is circumference important?"

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More typically, non-leading questions look like these:

    "How did you get it?"
    "What are you thinking?"
    "Why are you asking that question?"
    "Can you explain why you did it this way?"
    "Why does this work?"

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