Critical Thinking and Problem Solving – Day One

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

PART ONE: Group problem solving activity

Our next topic is problem solving so we’re going to do a group activity related to problem solving (it’s also one of my favorite science activities).  In groups of 4, using the 3 bamboo skewers and clay – create a structure that balances by the point of one skewer on your fingertip.

PART TWO: Problem solving group discussion

Within your group – respond to one of the following questions:

  1. There are 2 types of problems: open-ended and close-ended. Which was the balancing activity?
  2. How is the balance activity an inquiry activity?
  3. Could the balance activity be considered problem-based learning?
  4. When have you experienced the problem-based learning approach in your classes? (What is problem-based learning?)
  5. How is this connected to critical thinking? For that matter, what IS critical thinking?

Here’s the NETS for problem solving (and other related areas):

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:
a. identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation. – Problems that matter!!!
b. plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project. –
c. collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
d. use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.


Today we are starting a new project, one that will continue until the end of the semester.  You have all created lesson plans, digital stories, a personal website, and more. Now it’s time to integrate all of your skills into one project.

Let’s Look at an Example

Before we get to all the details, let’s first look atsome examples of Adventures created by former EDIT 2000 students. Ours will be set up slightly different, but the premise is the same. You are basically creating a web site for students, parents, and teachers. The site is meant to guide a student through an adventure of your choosing (of course, it’s nice to offer them choices within your adventure as well).

Health Adventure: You Are What You Eat

Adventure in the Wilderness


After looking at the student examples, what questions do you have? How do you think the adventure could have been improved? Do you notice any missing elements of the adventure that could have made it better? Think on this – maybe as we work through the project, you will want to go about it differently. That’s okay! Just be sure to talk with me to let me know your ideas.

Individual, Partners and Groups

You can work alone, with a partner, or with a group (3 members maximum) for this project. I am open to people working alone, but you need to be forewarned that this can be a lot of work – being able to share the work load will help you stay on target. You do not have to decide today who you’d like to work with, but be prepared to share this in class on Tuesday. It’s okay if you find yourself planning an adventure in a subject or grade level that is different than the one you identified at the beginning of the semester.


1.  Read Chapters 4 and 6 in your textbook.

2. Complete the Chapter 4 Reading Guide: Critical Thinking or Chapter 6 Reading Guide: Problem Solving (skip #5, 9, and 12) if you have not completed 4 of 6 reading guides .

3. Think about who you would like to work with and some possible topics for your project.


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