Teach Problem Solving

Four qualities characterize critical thinking: Critical thinking is reductive.It reaches inward, establishing categories and patiently learning what is there. For example, when my friend and I built the set, I submitted plans for floor sections measuring 6 feet by 8 feet, saying we could buy the lumber at those lengths and not have to cut it.I wanted students to understand that when they see a story problem, it isn’t scary.

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) Use this video minilesson to introduce the problem-solving process.

Then, in whatever discipline you teach, present your students with thorny, real-world problems that have no clear-cut solution and get them to use the problem-solving process to come up with solutions. Resist the temptation of having one solution in mind.

Instead, require students to invent a solution using their best critical and creative thinking.

Problem solving is key to success in all aspects of life.

There is just something about word problems, or problem-solving, that causes children to think they don’t know how to complete them. I put together a problem-solving unit that would focus a bit more on strategies and steps in hopes that that would create problem-solving stars.

Every year in math, I start off by teaching my students problem-solving skills and strategies. First, I wanted to make sure my students all learned the different strategies to solve problems, such as guess-and-check, using visuals (draw a picture, act it out, and modeling it), working backward, and organizational methods (tables, charts, and lists).In each of these classes, students must solve real problems and enjoy (or suffer) real consequences based on their solutions. If you teach your students to solve problems by using critical and creative thinking, you will equip them with one of the most important skills for success in college, career, and beyond.(Note how we have just creatively discovered one way that scientists should think like musicians—or quarterbacks! However, real-world problem solving does not involve known answers, but the productive creation and testing of unknown answers.Classes outside of the "core" specialize in such instruction—tech ed, art, gym, drama, band.Imagine trying to build a two-story tenement building on a one-story community-theater stage—all on a tight budget in two weeks.That's a problem a friend and I recently faced.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.My critical thinking friend pointed out that my plans would end up with sections measuring 6 feet by 8 feet 3 inches (because of the width of the lumber on either end).I had to change my plans to accommodate longer floor sections.

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