Given the Answer, Write the Question

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G.I.F.T.S
Cathy Anderson
[email protected]
Given the Answer, Write the Question
Time Required: 10 – 15 minutes
When: This is something I do after I have introduced a topic, given several examples,
and still have 10 – 15 minutes left in the class period.
Purpose: This exercise is a great critical thinking exercise. It also helps students to be
aware of instructions since they have to write instructions.
Procedure: I give the students a list of criteria (including an answer) and ask them to
write a question that satisfies the criteria and has the specified answer.
I write the criteria on the board and give the students about one minute (more depending
on the complexity of the criteria) to write a question satisfying the criteria. The question
must include written instructions. After the minute is over, I have students exchange
questions with a partner and the partner checks that the question meets the criteria. This
gives students some confidence that they have written a question that works. Then I ask
three to five students to write their questions including the instructions on the board.
After all the questions are on the board we go through them one at a time and check that
the criteria is met and that the instructions are adequate.
Example 1 After I have covered addition of signed numbers, I might ask students to
make up an example that fits the following criteria:
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The final answer must be 3
Add five numbers to get the answer
The only operation can be addition
None of the numbers can be zero
No two or more of the numbers can have the same absolute value
A student might write:
Perform the addition: 3   2  5  4   7   _____
Example 2 After I have covered order of operations, I might ask students to make up an
example that fits the following criteria:
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
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The final answer must be 2
There must be four operations including one exponent, one multiplication, one
addition, and one subtraction.
None of the numbers can be zero
A student might write:
Perform the indicated operations: 32  1  2  6  _____
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