As a classroom teacher, I taught 5th grade math. It was my strongest subject because I was always excited to teach math. I had a friend named Dan who taught high school math, and later left his teaching position to write high school math textbooks. As passionate as I was about math, Dan took it to another level.
He once described his process for creating a multiple choice question for an algebra II textbook. His ability to think through common misconceptions to create the distractors in the problem inspired me to use the strategy with my fifth grade students.
I explained to my students Dan’s role in creating math problems and how he comes up with answers that seem like they might be correct. I then gave students a simple double digit addition problem and challenged them to come up with the correct answer and three distractors. Students began to think through common errors and listed their answers.
The process helped students to improve their conceptual understanding and helped serve as an excellent assessment tool. Create a Multiple Choice Question (just like Dan) became one of our favorite activities. Students loved the challenge and were engaged in a way that they weren’t when I simply put practice problems in front of them.
Try the strategy with your students today. (Keep in mind that it doesn’t only work with math but other subject areas as well.)