Open ended questions and activities are what gets kids moving, excited and engaged.
What are open ended questions?
Open ended questions are those that have a myriad of responses. Open ended questions allow us to embrace different ways of thinking and responding and can often, at times, waken our own thinking up as we learn to see how others think.
For example – in maths lessons at home or at school show them some triangles and ask them: Is it a triangle or not? Why? What is our fixed definition of triangle and is this always correct?
This can then lead into what triangles can and cannot be through seeing what is in real life.
Another open ended task could be as simple as run your own ‘lemonade and cupcake stall’. For younger students they may simply work out prices and how many they need to cook/make. Older students will need to work out the cost of making these things to factor into the cost along with their own labour fees! Through this activity the students are learning how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
So do we need to do away with drill and practise?
Not necessarily but we MUST cut down on it. Worksheets for every child in the class are not supporting anyone as the only sense of value children will see is if they can finish the task.
Drill and practise can be done in open ended ways – not just worksheets of the same addition style problem. Play games, make a maze with the answers, talk about the best solutions, link to real world activities – go beyond silence and repetition just for the sake of it.
Children do need to practise to get better at things BUT they need to see value also.
How does this support Gifted students?
Many gifted students, although they will need support when a new concept is given to them, will pick it up quickly so there is not point asking for repetition.
Gifted students see more value in those open ended tasks as they can see where it applies in their own lives, they can add their own twist to it and they can be challenged.
Check in with your own classroom teaching or your students teachers and ask how they are allowing bright and gifted students to shine. How are they adding excitement to learning? How are they engaging and growing young minds.
What are your thoughts?