For the past three days, I have been setting up my new classroom. There is quite a bit of bulletin board space and so many options for their use. As of right now, there are two small boards for students to display work that they are proud of and one larger board that is split in half. One half is dedicated to fraction related vocabulary and I couldn't quite decide on what should go on the other half.
Inspiration came in the form of the book Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zager. This is a wonderful resource for K-8 teachers, whether they love math (like me) or are just beginning to cultivate their "like" for math. Zager was talking about Dan Meyer's 101qs, a website dedicated to his 3 act tasks, and focused on question posing. Question posing is an important skill for our students. It really requires a great deal of thought, and too often our students do not exercise their ability to think.
I settled on an image of soda bottles and began planning the bulletin board, but was still unsure if this is the direction I wanted to take it and if it was the best use of space. My resident 5th and 3rd graders passed by, so I asked them to tell my the first question that came into their head when they saw the image.
It took the 5th grader four tries to be able to ask a question! I was shocked. His initial response was "I think it's addition." From that instant, it was clear that this bulletin board was a great idea. Many of our students are so interested in getting an answer, or better, a correct answer, than hearing (or reading) what they're being asked to do. I've seen it over an over again. They just don't think, and I suspect that is because enough of us are not asking them to. We lead students directly to the solution with lots of scaffolding and remove the need for thoughtful mathematical decision making. What fun is that? Incidentally, I suspect that my 5th grader perceives a "correct" answer as the answer that I want to hear, which is a problem unto itself.
This image was chosen specifically because it could easily be physically created in the classroom for students to answer some of the questions they've generated. I cannot wait to see what they come up with, and even more, to foster their development as thinkers!