Teach Problem Solving

Teach Problem Solving-46
I wanted students to understand that when they see a story problem, it isn’t scary.

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It reaches outward, breaks down barriers, and discovers new ground. By creating many design innovations and redefining the boundaries of the stage, we created a two-story set that allowed even the people sitting farthest up in the last row of the theater to see to the tops of the second-story windows.

It is rapid-fire and prodigious and a bit reckless. Anytime you confront students with seemingly impossible problems—income inequality, educational funding, the war on terror, even a cure for cancer—and challenge them to come up with solutions, you are teaching creative thinking.

Anytime you require students to analyze something—a text, a formula, a chemical reaction, a crisis—you are teaching critical thinking.

Anytime you require students to conduct research to find solid answers to complex questions, you are teaching critical thinking.

First we planned our work: I designed a structure with shortened stories, and my friend turned my pencil sketches into 3D CAD drawings.

Then we worked our plan, framing walls and floors, removing low-hanging lights, and installing pool noodles around rafters to keep actors from hitting their heads. The show even had a couple linebackers singing songs from the second-story windows. Did you notice the dynamic between my friend and me?

I provided students with plenty of practice of the strategies, such as in this guess-and-check game. I also provided them with paper dolls and a variety of clothing to create an organized list to determine just how many outfits their “friend” would have.

Then, as I said above, we practiced in a variety of ways to make sure we knew exactly when to use them. Anyway, after I knew they had down the various strategies and when to use them, then we went into the actual problem-solving steps.

Anytime you require students to state a position and argue for it using logic and evidence, you are teaching critical thinking.

Whatever the subject you are teaching, you can incorporate the following critical-thinking minilessons: Creative thinking is expansive.


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