I decided to include brainteasers as part of the on-ramp to my grade 9 Learning Strategies course this semester. My intent is trifold. First, to activate just enough FOMO in my students so that they hustle to class to participate in the activity. Second, I need to buy several minutes to set up my gear and take attendance. Third, I hope to observe and capture my students’ riddle solving strategies and weave their thoughts into our learning strategies frameworks. [In the next post I will share our strategy tracking sheet.]
This week, after some chatting and writing and asking for clues, one student asked, “But why bother?”
“With the brainteaser?” I said.
“No, with trying to solve this puzzle. I mean why would anyone bother to do this … in real life?”
“Tell me more.”
The student paused, “What would motivate a person to want to solve this puzzle? What’s the story behind the puzzle?”
Good questions I thought.
My approach so far in introducing the brainteasers was to give as little direction as possible. I had hoped that the sparseness of the instructions would declutter their approach. I thought that fewer lines of reading would get the kids to solving faster. And I definitely did not expect that more backstory would be needed or wanted.
I asked the student to craft a backstory that included ‘why’ a protagonist would want to solve the puzzle and to set it in a context that made sense for the characters and their motivations.
Looking forward to finding ways to include backstory and main character [maybe read as ‘student’] motivation woven into future puzzles. Stay tuned.
Have you experimented with puzzles or riddles as part of your lesson structure? Have you ever assessed puzzle solving strategies? Have you considered the connections between learning and puzzle solving strategies? Hit me up with your thoughts.