Yesterday as Max and I were planning a workshop we’ll be facilitating in early August a recurring thought came to me — after spending hours of time on problem solving teachers sometimes comment to us, how will I ever find time to do this with my students?

As I ponder this issue, I wonder if at the heart of it is that
  • the teachers realize that the amount of time we spend on one problem is worth the time?
  • there is no apparent transfer from a condensed one-day workshop to a full-year class?
  • teachers’ learning experiences are different from their students’ learning experiences?
Worth the Time
From formative assessment during the workshop and evaluations at the conclusion of our workshops, teachers indicate that the time spent is worth it for them.
While teachers would like to transfer the ideas, this seems hard to achieve. So many school “routines” get in the way.
Learning Experiences
Are teachers more likely to be in control of their own learning? Are classrooms/schools ready at this point to have students be in control of their own learning?
How can teachers find time for rich problem-solving experiences for their students?
Idea: If students are encouraged to take charge of their own learning, our job is not to “lead” them through problem solving but instead to create environments that encourage them to embrace the process. Try the “At the End of the Period: Take 5 Minutes” approach.
  • Using just 5 minutes at the end of a class period is manageable.
  • Starting and stopping reinforces problem solving as a process.
  • Perseverance is also reinforced.
Do you see any disadvantages?
Does it make sense that taking this approach could reinforce the idea of problem solving as a process and that it’s not something to rush to finish just to be over and done? How might this idea fit within your classroom routine?