I have a confession to make. I enjoy doing math problems. When I was growing up, I always enjoyed math class because I could follow the various mathematical processes taught to me and I was good at memorizing facts. I loved playing math games that involved speed of recalling math facts because I could almost always take the lead. My love for math continued through middle school.
Then one year, I had a teacher who made me think about my answers and explain my thinking. Wait a second? There was a reason for what I had been doing all these years? HOLD UP! It was time for me to S—L—O—W down.
I had to stop and think about what I was doing and it wasn't easy, and it wasn't fun (at first) because I had to retrain my brain. However, I am glad I did because it helped to make me the teacher I am today: someone who is able to explain the steps I take to arrive at an answer.
Now I can "think aloud" with the best of them, and my understanding is more concrete.
Have you ever thought back to how you were taught in elementary school? When you are little, most questions are simple, and answers require little thought: "Do you want milk or water with dinner?" "Do you want to go on a walk?" "Did you hang up your book bag?" "Did you like your lunch at school today?"
As children, we would emulate what was modeled for us and do the same in return by asking our parents questions: "Did you have a good day?" "Can I have a snack?" "Do I have to go to bed?" And the infamous, "Do you like me? Check yes or no." Think about it: Did we ever say, "Mom, compare and contrast your day at work today with your day at work yesterday" or "Please write down your feelings for me on the lines below"? Of course not. We were not trained to think like that.
Spending time formulating open-ended questions and asking our students to explain their thinking is a vital part of Math Daily 3 Writing.