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Questioning Grid

January 13, 2013

On Saturday morning, I was asked by a lady I’ve never met (@_jopayne on twitter) if I could help with a questioning approach in maths. She was planning a T&L session at her school on Monday and wanted to make use of John Sayer’s questioning grid but wanted to make sure it’d work in maths* as she’s a geography teacher.

So, firstly, I quite like the grid mainly just as a way of encouraging me to think of different approaches to asking questions. I’m sure that I inevitably fall into similar lines of questioning even when I’m trying not to maybe via Bloom’s or the thoughts and crosses grid approach.

Here’s the Edexcel GCSE maths module 1, which happens to be where my school is in the scheme of work at the moment:
  • Add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, integers and decimals
  • Order integers and decimals
  • Use decimal notation
  • Understand and use number operations and the relationships between them including hierarchy of operations
  • Round to specified or appropriate degrees of accuracy including a given power of ten, number of decimals places and significant figures

And here’s my attempt to fill in some of the boxes:

WHAT IS an integer?


WHAT CAN you tell me about rounding?

WHAT WOULD you say is bigger: 10 or -100?

WHAT WILL happen if you divide by a decimal less than one?

WHAT MIGHT round to 44?

WHERE IS the thousandths column?


WHERE CAN using brackets give you a different answer?

WHERE WOULD people use rounding?

WHERE WILL decimals most likely be found?


WHEN IS rounding to 2 decimal places different to rounding to 2 significant figures?

WHEN DID you last practise your times tables?

WHEN CAN rounding be useful?

WHEN WOULD dividing make your answer bigger?

If you???re multiplying, WHEN WILL your answer be negative?

WHEN MIGHT ordering decimals be difficult?

WHICH IS first: adding or multiplying?



WHICH WOULD you rather calculate: 0.34 x 52 or 1768 ?? 5200?




WHO DID decide that multiplying should happen before subtracting?



WHO WILL use rounding of big numbers regularly?

WHO MIGHT need to know how accurate an answer is?

WHY IS a negative add a negative negative?





WHY MIGHT writing a division as a fraction be useful?

HOW IS 0.4 x 0.32 similar/different to 4 x 32?


HOW CAN you tell that 9.34 x 5.1 = 476.34 is wrong?

HOW COULD I subtract a number from 10 and end up with an answer greater than 10?


HOW MIGHT rounding too much cause problems?

It’s fair to say that ‘DID’ caused me some difficulty. I thought ‘WHO’ would be tricky and it turns out that ‘WHICH’ was surprisingly tricky too. However, given that this is my first attempt, it’s been interesting. I suspect with more thought, more practise and the chance to bounce ideas off the rest of my faculty (or twitter) it’d get easier!

Feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

*There is also a point to be made about people at INSET days taking the easy way out and going “There’s no immediately obvious way I can use this and you haven’t done my thinking for me so I’m not going to try myself and call this INSET rubbish.” But that’s probably another blog post.

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  1. Jo Payne permalink

    I really do not know what to say – thank you so much for this contribution. It only became apparent on Friday that some subjects might find it difficult to link it to their subject – including Maths. I thought it would be unlikely that anyone could help, given the short notice before the session on Monday, but you have saved the day! It will make my session tomorrow far more relevant – to be able to give examples from beyond geography. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks again, Jo

  2. reflectivemathsteacher permalink

    You’re very welcome Jo. It was an interesting activity and there’s a certain challenge to ‘will this work in Maths’. Hope it helps and look forward to seeing your grid. As for the speed factor – only in the world of twitter eh?

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