Recently I have been thinking how best to model examples to my classes. What should students be doing when I role model; just listening? What (if anything) should they be writing in their books? I need to revisit what Craig Barton and others have written on this topic. I’ve also bought ‘Teaching Math with Examples’ by Michael Pershan. I will report back.

If I can’t be clear at the moment how to deliver an example, at least I do know the difference between a good one and a bad one. One aspect is that good examples are only good if you cannot obtain the correct answer by using an incorrect method. I made some bad examples and we discussed them at a department meeting. See if you can spot why each question should be avoided.

Calculate 2^{2}

3 – 2 x 1

Simplify 16/64

Find the area of a 6cm by 3cm rectangle

Simplify a^{2} x a^{2}

Write 2 and 3/10 as an improper fraction

It was fun to think of such bad examples. With classes who are confident of the concept at hand, this type of questions could be a good discussion point. If you have any bad examples I’d love to add more to my collection.

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