There are moments in mathematics lessons when you can see a switch being flicked in a child's brain and they have a 'light bulb moment'. "Ah... I get it now," they say. Often these lightbulb moments don't happen by themselves but instead are caused by a teacher's use of questioning in the mathematics lesson.

Below are some questions that can be asked in maths lessons to extend mathematical thinking.

## Questions to get started

Ask children who are getting started with a piece of work:

• How are you going to tackle this?
• What information do you have? What do you need to find out or do?
• What operation/s are you going to use?
• Will you do it mentally, with pencil and paper, using a number line, with a calculator…? Why?
• What method are you going to use? Why?
• What equipment will you need?
• What questions will you need to ask?
• How are you going to record what you are doing?
• What do you think the answer or result will be?
• Can you estimate or predict?

## Questions to check progress

Make positive interventions to check progress while children are working, by asking:

• Can you explain what you have done so far?
• What else is there to do?
• Why did you decide to use this method or do it this way?
• Can you think of another method that might have worked?
• Could there be a quicker way of doing this?
• What do you mean by…?
• What did you notice when…?
• Why did you decide to organise your results like that?
• Are you beginning to see a pattern or a rule?
• Do you think that this would work with other numbers?
• Have you thought of all the possibilities? How can you be sure?

## Questions when children are stuck

• Can you describe the problem in your own words?
• Can you talk me through what you have done so far?
• What did you do last time? What is different this time?
• Is there something that you already know that might help?
• Could you try it with simpler numbers… fewer numbers… using a number line…?
• What about putting things in order?
• Would a table help, or a picture/diagram/graph?
• Why not make a guess and check if it works?
• Have you compared your work with anyone else’s?

## Questions at the end of the lesson

During the plenary session of a lesson ask:

• Can you describe your method/pattern/rule to us all? Can you explain why it works?
• What could you try next?
• Would it work with different numbers?
• What if you had started with… rather than…?
• What if you could only use…?
• Is it a reasonable answer/result? What makes you say so?
• How did you check it?
• What have you learned or found out today?
• If you were doing it again, what would you do differently?
• Having done this, when could you use this method/information/idea again?
• Did you use any new words today? What do they mean? How do you spell them?
• What are the key points or ideas that you need to remember for the next lesson?