What Is Critical Problem Solving?
Basically it is a matrix (no Keanu Reeves here) which incorporates problem solving strategies and the elements of critical thinking. The crucial factor in all this is application. Learners are presented with a task which requires them to apply these elements and strategies. (Not a definitive list.)
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Playing Games - B-Cubed, Bloxorz & Phit
Using games has always been a great strategy to engage students in the learning process and bring in the FUN factor. Each of the games mentioned, incorporates problem solving within a spatial environment. The aim of
B-Cubed is to move the gold cube to the red cube. To get the grey matter working you must move the gold cube across all the white cubes to reach the goal. Level 1 of the game is very straight forward. However, as you can see other levels become a more challenging.
Bloxorz is definitely a challenge. You move the block using the arrow keys on the keyboard. The block will roll if moving left to right and stand on end if using the up and down keys. The aim is to have the block fall through the hole in the tiles. There are also a few other tricky parts along the way.
To play Phit you must move the tiles so they fill the yellow tray. Sounds easy! This is a great game for using the problem solving strategy of guess and check. Games found at: www.coolmath-games.com
Suggested integration for critical problem solving strategies.
- Students read and analyse the rules. After playing the game they dicuss and/or rewrite the rules to assist with interpretation.
- Students discuss if they have played a similar game and record the similarities in a table.
- Do a screen dump of each level (which means you have to also complete the games) and have students draw their proposed moves to complete that level. They also record the reason/s for completing the task this way.
- Once students have achieved a level, they then consider alternative ways to complete the task. A print out would be great for this activity.
- Learners record the moves they made and write a brief explanation as to why they executed those moves. Discussing any changes they would make if playing the level again.
- Learners evaluate the methods they have implemented and discuss the effectiveness of the different strategies. Consider such questions as - Why did this work? How did I progress through that level? Which was the most successful strategy? Did I consider using other strategies to complete the level? What instructions would I give another person playing the game/s? When did I realise this strategy was the most effective?
- Group discussion considering the strategies and methods to complete levels is essential. Students have the opportunity to decide if their strategies will always be effective and to consider other strategies that have been implemented effectively. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss other situatins where these strategies can be used.
- It is also important for learners to discuss their mistakes as this is a great learning strategy. They can analyse where they made errors and make changes when next playing. Use a flowchart to develop this structure.
- When playing another game review the notes made and discuss how those strategies etc can be transferred to playing the new game.
- Drawing a flowchart to demonstrate how they played the game will reinforce strategies and have them analysing what they have learnt, achieved and how they conquered the game.
- When moving onto other games, students will have the opportunity to synthesis and apply their experiences from playing previous games. Initially they will need to read the instructions and compare and contrast similar areas of the games.
Enjoy playing the games.