Recently I had the opportunity to introduce the online Problems of the Week routine to four classes of sixth-graders. I prepared ahead of time by:

* setting up all of their logins
* creating a handout sheet with step-by-step instructions — individualized for each student (I used the “merge” function with MS Word and Excel — very handy!)
* selecting a problem with their teacher – we chose “A Cranberry Craving” — seemed fun since it has a Thanksgiving theme

My goals for the class period were to have the students:

* comfortable logging on to the Problems of the Week with their individual username/password
* be introduced to this system with a “step one” approach rather than a “final” approach to their problem solving

By setting up the training session (going over the technical aspects of the PoWs) in this way, I was attempting to influence their learning. I want them ultimately to be comfortable with the problem solving process. I want them to think of problem solving as something you do over time:

The goal is not to be over and done. The goal is to think, express, reflect, and revise.

Although I included that sentiment on their login instruction sheet, I didn’t dwell on it during the training. If the training is structured well, however, and the students practice each of the steps. I think with time they may understand the process I am hoping they adopt for problem solving.

What are your training routines? How do they support your teaching/your students’ learning?