How often do you give your gifted students the opportunity to solve authentic, relevant problems? What is more authentic to a student than solving classroom problems? And what excites students more than having ownership over the classroom seating? Here’s an authentic problem solving idea that ties in public speaking skills, group work, and classroom ownership.
All AboutFuzzy Problems
A fuzzy problem, also known as an “ill-defined problem”, is one without a perfectly clear goal, path to success, or known solution. Most of the issues we grapple with are fuzzy in some way. Few of the problems we give students are fuzzy, however. Here are some ways to change that.
We’re supposed to rank fifteen items according to usefulness if we were stranded on the light-side of the moon. The items range from pistols to powdered milk. Some seem useful, but are actually worthless while others seem unnecessary on earth, but are actually vital when stuck on the moon. However, the structure of the activity as a website is not optimal. Let’s improve this and make it an awesome problem–solving exercise for our class.
You know you’re supposed to put your cart into a designated area in the parking lot, but you’d rather not take the effort since you’re in a hurry. And after all, one cart doesn’t make a difference! However, if we all take this mindset, soon the parking lot is impossible to park in, carts are slamming into cars, and businesses are raising prices to pay for all of the broken carts.
Now, a typical classroom would woosh onto a new topic after this half hour of “fun.” But. we’re building a classroom culture that’s comfortable with fuzzy problems. It is now, after failures, that students can learn the most, so let’s break down their results…
Teaching our students to identify the criteria behind a decision will make them better decision makers and help them understand others’ points of views.
Here’s a reading assignment: Erika McWilliam’s “From Sage to Guide to Meddler.” This paper discuses how we can get in the middle of our students’ learning, creating productive struggle by allowing kids to sit in their own confusion longer than they might like.