Notice and Wonder

  • Why Notice and Wonder?

    This routine supports students in becoming successful, perseverant problem solvers by leveraging multiple mathematical competencies and drawing on multiple sources of knowledge. Asking students What do you notice? What do you wonder? allows students the opportunity to see problems in big-picture ways and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. This routine allows for all students to gain entry into the context and to pique their curiosity . Students are able to build self-confidence and reflective skills, their engagement soars, and students realize there are many different ways to approach problems. “When students are given opportunities to pose mathematics problems, to consider a situation and think of a mathematics question to ask of it – which is the essence of real mathematics – they become more deeply engaged and perform at higher levels” (Boaler, 2016, p. 27).


    The video below talks about the power of asking students what they notice and wonder.


     Ever Wonder What They'd Notice?: Annie Fetter © Copyright The Math Forum at NCTM. Standard YouTube License. (


    Mathematical Practices:

    The specific task used may expand the Mathematical Practice possibilities, but in general, this routine will encourage students to use: 

    SMP 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

    SMP 2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively

    SMP 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

    SMP 7: Look for and make use of structure.
    SMP 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning


    What is Notice and Wonder?

    Students observe an image, video, graph or other stimulus and share their natural noticings and wonderings. Notice and Wonder can be a short routine used to activate student thinking at the launch of a lesson, or a stand-alone routine to encourage curiosity and math reasoning. Because students are invited to bring their own ideas and questions into the classroom within this routine, regular use of this protocol helps to establish a safe classroom environment. 


    Boosting Engagement with Notices and Wonders © Copyright Edutopia. Standard YouTube License. (


    How do I Implement Notice and Wonder?

    Show students a scenario, an image, a data set, a problem situation, or a word problem stem with the question removed. The prompt to students is “What do you notice? What do you wonder?” Students take a few minutes to write down things they notice and things they wonder. When first implementing this strategy, a two-column approach will help students to differentiate between a noticing (statement) and wondering (question). After students have had a chance to write down their responses, ask students to share things they noticed. As students are sharing, record their thoughts for all to see. Pause to let as many students as possible contribute. Record all student suggestions. Avoid praising, restating, clarifying, or asking questions. Do not judge "correctness" of responses. Later discussion will amend thinking as needed. Once students have shared out what they Notice, ask for students to share their Wonderings repeating the process above. Once students have had a chance to share their Wonderings, choose the next step based on the desired lesson outcome. The teacher may steer the conversation to wondering about something mathematical that the class is about to focus on, but could also leave it more open and allow students to choose a question from the wondering list to explore on their own or in partners. 


    Here are a couple of videos from Teaching Channel of teachers using Notice & Wonder:

    2nd grade- numberless word problem

    4th grade- using an image