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Big Tweets : Brain Teasers : Windowless room

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.

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thoughtfuel

Big Tweets : Brain Teasers

I have always used riddles and puzzles to engage my students. Game playing at some point in my course plans serves multiple purposes- sometimes to wake up the lesson, sometimes to ease tension, and sometimes just to share some fun.

Previously, these games were mostly only a part of my bell-ringer / attendance minutes at the front end of each class, but this year I have started to thread brain teasers, number games, puzzles, and optical illusions into my lessons.

This year I have also started to observe how the students go about solving the various mind-benders that I throw at them. In our debrief discussions, we share problems solving strategies, sudden solutions, and collaboration tips.

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.

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thoughtfuel

pitfall

The End of Year thoughts are creeping in.

With course calendars laid out, assessment timelines measured, reality checked – it’s pretty easy to get caught in the loop of ‘how will this all get done?’

But it does.

And it did in the past because my students kept at it, I kept at it, and we all managed to keep keeping at it until clock ran out. And despite all this sticktoitness, the shift in energy from opportunity to oncoming deadline really plays with your head.

The drive to make it to the end of the year affects everyone slightly differently and I’ve yet to meet a person that is completely unfazed by the palpable shift that occurs in mid-May. It’s like the declaration from an EDU almanac ‘sunny skies with a chance of distraction’ becomes the tarpit to leap. And the pathetic fallacy to avoid.

What triggers this mindset shift? Why does it take hold? Better yet, why is it so difficult to think away from it?