Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Funneling vs Focusing Questions FAME Article Responses

Our first assignment of our FAME program is reading the following article, Questioning our Patterns of Questioning: http://www.svmimac.org/images/SVMIPD.091312.Questioning_our_Patterns.pdf


A1: Funneling reminds me of talking to a student about solving linear equations. What operations do you see? "How can we get rid of that?" And so on. It reminds me of asking a few too many leading questions.

I try to relay it back to the formative assessment lesson. The story of x where you are building an equation starting with a solution. An equation is undone to find the value of x.

Focusing questions are in direct response to how a student is thinking, rather than how I am thinking of the problem. The most common focusing question could even be "What do you notice?"

Focusing questions remind me of math talk moves. I model and want students to rephrase what other students have said. I also want them to acknowledge another person's thinking by naming their method. Paraphrasing a person's method. 

And the mother of all talk moves.. not talking. Wait time. In the dialogue of focusing questions about slope the teacher let the students pause, to ask other students if they AGREED or DISAGREED with the thinking. I know we have to bite our lips sometimes to try to not say what another student is ready or could say.

Q2: What opportunities does a focusing pattern of questioning afford us that a funneling pattern does not?

A2: Focusing questions allow opportunities for students to contribute their thoughts to the class discussion giving enough wait time. Funneling questions also tend to have few students raising their hand to begin talking about a topic. Focusing questions seem to be a majority of intuitive responses. Focusing questions can spark or synthesize a conversation. Patterns of funneling questions can tend to be tuned out by student(s).

 Q3: What are the key features of the two questioning patterns described? How do they differ?

In general, questions are a big part of engaging students in discussions. Classroom questions tend to follow the IRF, Initiation-Response-Feedback model. I think funneling questions have feedback that is telling the students whether they are right or wrong. A focusing question is a response that opens it up to other students to confirm or deny the validity of the response.

One of the main characteristics of funneling is the teacher is doing most of the cognitive work. The students are simply responding. When students are encouraged to connect their thinking with their peer's ideas there is more cognitive demand on the student.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I too really, really like the article. I did a PD at my school for math teachers which focused on this article. Too bad only 4 people came! I thought it really pointed out how what we think of as "helping" isn't helping the students think at all. Thanks for blogging about it :)