Problem Solving and Critical Thinking– Day 3

17 Apr

Today we are going to continue working on the Learning Adventure project.  I have the idea about what Claire and Chuck are going to do, but I haven’t got further information from the others.  I hope you all have an essential question that can guides you through and a good hook for your students. I think it’s better for us to share this now…so if there is something wrong, we still have time to fix it.


By now you’ve come up with a topic, decided on a project for your students to complete, and have possibly come up with some engaging wording for your “Driving” or “Essential” or “Interesting” Question.  The “Hook” section or anticipatory set should be designed to focus the attention of your learners. It’s the part that hooks them into your topic. You’ll do some of this in your introductory video, too – but this “Hook” section should get them really into your topic.

Please tell your peers about your idea for the final project.  If you are still thinking about project ideas, here’s a long list of project ideas. Read about Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects for more ideas.


We are using the backward design approach.  As a designer, here I mean a teacher, you need to think about the final product or artifact that you want your students to create.  Sometimes I do think this is the best way to teach.  Think about cooking…do you prefer thinking about what you want to eat or what you want to buy first?  Most of us will think about what we want to eat first, right?  So, let’s figure out what kinds of projects your students might complete.  Then we’ll working on organizing resources to help them create their projects. Just as we choose a recipe by looking at pictures, alot of kids will choose your adventure based on the project they will complete.

Together, we’ll watch the video on Applying Math Skills to a Real-World Problem.  What evidence do you see that this is a good project? What are the characteristics of a good project-based learning activity?  What is the final product?

Now it’s time to brainstorm project . What kinds of projects might your student do? What will they create?  Will they create a glogster poster to show how the define a hero? Or will they create a video to talk about recycling? Maybe you’ll encourage your student to start a blog to help other middle schooler’s learn how to make and keep their friends.

What makes a good student product? Whatdo you want your students to do as part of their adventure? Is it meaningful or busywork? Are they using critical thinking and problem solving skills or just repeating facts? Keep these questions in mind as you create this part of your project.

The rubric states, “This is the product – after they’ve learned about the topic, what can students create to show what they’ve learned and/or to learn more about the topic? This will be a creative endeavor – not a worksheet or research paper. In addition, how will students share their final product with you?”

Check out this Beginning with the End in Mind website to see how you may think about designing the end product that students will work on. It may also help to see what former students have designed for this section. Check out this example – notice this student created the “Show what you know” in his “Figure It Out” section. He then created a page for how students will submit their work on the “Show What You Know” page. You can choose to include this information on one page to consolidate and just title it “Show What You Know.”


Organizing the Investigation for Students

Now we’re going to create a chart for students to organize information – this could be a KWL chart, a cause and effect chart, etc. It is best if it becomes a tool to help them navigate through all of the parts of the adventure – so they know where to go and what to do in each section.

This will serve as a “to do” list. Use age appropriate graphics. Let’s look at some ways to help students organize information. You may find something you like on this teacher site, you may choose to create an organizer using Dabbleboard, Webspiration, or even using Word. This is up to you and your group. You can also look at some examples from former projects, such as the Health Adventure: You Are What You Eat and the Adventure in the Wilderness.

After you’ve selected or created an organizer for your investigation, include a write up on your Google Site for students. Just posting an organizer isn’t enough. You need to write to the students, explaining what they are going to do with it. Do you want them to print it? If so, you need to tell them. Let’s take some time in class now to select/create an organizer and write directions for students.


Now you have already created an essential question, a hook, the idea for final product and the graphic organizer.  Weare going to explore more about the topic.  Your students might use the “Get Organized” graphic organizer – or there might be an additional one for this section. Your group will need to provide a list of websites that are age-appropriate. Be sure you are not just listing websites, but describing the relevant sites and giving student something to do when they enter a site.  Also, please notice that these websites are your selections, not Google’s selections.  Please DO NOT give me the first five websites you get from any search engine.

Where can you go to find interactive games and resources to use in this section and the “Explore” section?  In class today we’ll look at Thinkfinity – which is an appropriate resource regardless of grade or subject area.


1. We did so many things today.  I know some of you may not finish everything.  Therefore, we will have about another half hour on Thursday to work on these sections.  Then we will work on the last two sections of the Learning Adventure in the second half of Thursday’s class.  Also, we are going to talk about how to construct all these in a new site.  If you need any help, please let me know how I can best assist you.  You know me.  I am always here to help you.

2. I will check out a camcorder this Thursday.  If you and your partner want to make the introduction video clip on that day, you can also do it in class.  I will try to find a quiet place for you.  Then you also need to have a laptop or a thumb drive in order to save the file.  If you don’t want to do it in class, please remember to do it before the final presentation which is on April 24.

3. Thanks for completing the VoiceThread Communication project. You all did a great job.  you can start thinking about the gifts.  I will start collecting the gifts that you want to give to your Taiwanese partners this Thursday.  I am bringing the gift back to Taiwan and meet them in their class this June.  Arthur will collect the gifts and send them to me this week.  Hopefully we will get their gifts before the last class.

4. Unfortunately, Gretchen is not going to have the SMARTBoard class this fall semester.  However, she has a new option.  Here is her new idea.  If you are interested, feel free to contact her asap.  Thanks!

“In the fall I’m teaching a one-time only section of EDIT 4000 – Technology and Innovation – special section for CMSD majors.  This is a 3.0 credit hour course that will meet on T/Th from 12:30-1:45 in Aderhold (no room assignment yet).  The purpose of the course will be to explore, as a group, how technology can be used to support children who need assistance with speech and language issues. I’m bringing my knowledge of technology and you’re bringing your knowledge of all things CMSD. Talk with me if you are interested in learning more about the course or enrolling. You will need to be cleared by me to register.”


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