Slow Math is … thinking about the “right” question to ask

A few years into the journey of teaching through inquiry, I said that my most important work comes before the lesson – planning the questions to ask during the lesson episode.

Dylan Wiliam’s assertion from Embedded Formative Assessment resonated with me and the teachers with whom I work: “Sharing high-quality questions may be the most significant thing we can do to improve the quality of student learning.”


When your team plans together, plan questions to ask. When you find the question that makes a difference in knowing what students are thinking, don’t keep it to yourself – share it.

As I continue to teach, though, I’ve decided that my most important work happens during the lesson – in the moment – making decisions about what to do and ask next based on how students respond.

I’m reading Hattie, Fisher, and Frey’s Visible Learning for Mathematics. I paused when I read the following paragraph.


Slow Math isn’t just for students. It’s for teachers, too.

“Give yourself permission to stop and think about the ‘right’ question to ask at any given point in the lesson.”

I’ve also heard this advice from Elham Kazemi in the form of teacher time outs. Team teaching is such a good opportunity to practice good questioning. Even if you’re alone, though, give yourself permission to take a teacher time out. Slow Math is taking time to think about the “right” question to ask.


Hattie, J. A., Fisher, D. B., & Frey, N. (2016). Visible learning for mathematics, grades K-12: what works best to optimize student learning. (p. 112). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. (p. 104). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


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