Friday, April 24, 2015

Problem Solving in Action

I've been reading and hearing a lot lately about 21st century skills and what we want kids to learn in schools these days. At the top of the list is problem-solving. We want kids to develop skills to confront problems and work out solutions.

However, kids usually don't develop these skills by only learning facts, completing worksheets, or taking tests. They learn these skills by experimenting and investigating. By playing with different types of materials. By DOING.

Recently I watched a boy work through a problem in his building activity. One end of his structure was shorter than the other. He worked through ideas until he found a solution.

Blocks and other types of play-based activities are available in many preschool classrooms. But many classrooms in elementary school (even kindergarten classrooms) don't have these. Experiential, hands-on learning has been replaced with other academic pursuits. 

I love using blocks and other manipulatives in different ways. Presenting a challenge and watching kids figure out what to do can yield lots of learning. 

I'm finishing up my university studies and looking for what's next. Seeing my friend explore and experiment has confirmed that I want to include that "playing" into my classroom - whatever age I teach. I can see preschoolers or kindergartners or first graders investigating how to solve problems and learning so much in the process. 

I'm not sure yet where I'll be or how this will play out. But I cannot wait to see what these future learning investigators will uncover.

How have you seen problem-solving in action? 

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