Ted Talk – Questioning



Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher, describes the value of questioning.


Rich Math and Rich Questions Blogs

Well after tweaking and playing with this blog for a couple months now, I am finally ready to set it out there for others to see.  My purpose is to get information out in the small manageable pieces that we are now so accustomed to.  The other important piece is creating a warehouse of problems so that we can use what is out there and spark our own ideas.

What I have is technically two blogs.  One will be for basic information (myrichmath blog) and the other one will be a warehouse of problems (MyRichProblems blog).  The page for helpful links is the same for both blogs.

Please let me know what works and what needs revision as I see this as your tool.

-Jen Thompson

Amesville Elementary Mathematics Coach


Okay, I’ll admit that Legos are a cliche in math problems for kids but to my credit, the student I was talking to suggested that Legos are something we buy in different sized packages.

Here is the problem:

Sally wanted to buy 473 legos.  At the store they are sold in packages of 100, 20, 5, and 1.  Show all the ways you can find that she can buy the exact number of legos.

Use pictures, numbers, and words to prove your answer.

Derived Facts

When one encounters a problem such as the one above there are four main strategies for solving.

1. Counting All – Begin at the first object and count all.    Most children use this strategy as they learn to count.

2. Counting On -As students develop they will notice the first number and then count on from that number, using it as a starting point to count on from.

3. Known Facts – Sometimes we just know the fact because it has been committed to memory.

4. Derived Facts – Another strategy for solving problems is to manipulate the numbers in the problem to make them easier to manage.  Students who use this strategy might make a group of ten and then see that there are two and three left which makes five.  They might also see that the numbers are close to 7+7 and since that is one less, and the known double 14, the answer must be 15.

Knowing that this is how students approach problems is important but it wasn’t until I was reading Jo Boaler’s book, What’s Math Got to Do with It? did I realize just HOW important it was.

Here I used the Create A Graph tool from NCES to show the frequency with which students 8 and older use these strategies to solve addition problems.


I encourage you to pick up a copy of Jo Boaler’s book, What’s Math Got to Do with It?.