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Good Math Instruction is not only about the information you give. It's actually more about the questions you ask.

The questions we ask our students are very important. Our questions should require our students to think past their comfort zone in order to make sense of the content being taught. I could go on an on about questions, but I'll get straight to point of this post... to explain Pushing & Pulling questions.

I came up with Pushing and Pulling questions as a way to help me plan and organize questions that I would ask my students during instruction and as I was monitoring their work. The point of the questions is redirection. However, the exact question determines what we are directing students to.

When teachers ask students pulling questions, we pull students to our thinking. In other words, we redirect them to what we want them to know and think.

When teachers ask students pushing questions, we push students into their own thinking. In other words, we redirect them to understanding in their own thinking.

Like with many things in teaching, everything has its place and time! However, overall we want to ask more pushing questions that pulling questions.

The #1 pushing question is usually "Will you explain your work to me?" This is my typical go-to question when I notice my students solving something incorrectly. Many times while they are explaining what they did, they actually catch their own error while they are explaining. If they don't catch it, I will ask another question that is still pushing them into their thinking, but more guidance than "Will you explain your work to me?" As necessary (and as time/situation allows), I continue asking questions making my way down the spectrum.

You can grab a copy of my Pushing Vs. Pulling Organizer that I use to help plan for questions with my students. With this organizer, I typically anticipate misconceptions and then I carefully think about the range of questions that I can ask my students. This organizer is helpful to use per skill/lesson. However, the main reason that I created it was to serve as a scaffold for questioning. When teachers begin thinking about their questions as a range, then it soon becomes a norm. When it becomes a norm, then more "in the act" questioning naturally occurs for teachers.

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