Critical Thinking and Problem Solving–Day 3

NEW COURSE INFO: I’m offering a new course: EDIT 4020 – Innovating with Technology on T/Th from 12:30-1:45 Spring 2013.  You can view the syllabus for the course here. 

You can follow the course on Twitter @TheEDITClass – here you’ll find updates about the course, information about contests, and current events about technology.  This class is perfect if you’d like to learn more about technology but would like to really focus on its use in your major.  Here’s a list of some possible projects:

  • Develop a professional social media identity
  • Create a TED talk about a personal passion within your field of study
  • Produce an original video on a topic related to your field of study
  • Leverage various technologies to create a personal learning network
  • Articulate the design process for building an app to support your field of study
  • Identify universal design principles that impact your work
  • Contribute to an Enrichment Cluster to explore areas of interest in depth
  • Conduct a personal research project on a topic directly related to your field of study
  • Organize your work within a Learning Contract in order to customize your learning and direct your efforts to areas that directly impact your work

You’ll see some similarities with EDIT 2000 – but it’s kind of like taking the next level of biology – you’ll learn some new things, learn old things more in depth, etc. It would be great if you would share this course with your friends and I would love it if you would consider taking it.


Hope you all have your essential question and the Google site ready.

We will work on this project backward…If this doesn’t work for you, you can choose to do it in your own pace and order.  Just try to make sure that you know the requirement for each section.


Sometimes the best way to figure out what you want to teach is to first figure out what you want students to be able to do. When you’re cooking, most of the time you decide what you want to eat BEFORE you get together your ingredients. At least, in the more successful times that you are cooking. So, let’s figure out what kinds of projects your students might complete – this week we’ll beworking on organizing resources to help them create their projects. Just as we choose a recipe by looking at pictures, alot of kids will choose your adventure based on the project they will complete.

Together, we’ll watch the video on Applying Math Skills to a Real-World Problem.  What evidence do you see that this is a good project? What are the characteristics of a good project-based learning activity?

Now it’s time to brainstorm project . What kinds of projects might your student do? What will they create?  Will they create a glogster poster to show how the define a hero? Or will they create a video to talk about recycling? Maybe you’ll encourage your student to start a blog to help other middle schooler’s learn how to make and keep their friends.

What makes a good student product? Whatdo you want your students to do as part of their adventure? Is it meaningful or busywork? Are they using critical thinking and problem solving skills or just repeating facts? Keep these questions in mind as you create this part of your project.

The rubric states, “This is the product – after they’ve learned about the topic, what can students create to show what they’ve learned and/or to learn more about the topic? This will be a creative endeavor – not a worksheet or research paper. In addition, how will students share their final product with you?”

Check out this Beginning with the End in Mind website to see how you may think about designing the end product that students will work on. It may also help to see what former students have designed for this section. Check out this example – notice this student created the “Show what you know” in his “Figure It Out” section. He then created a page for how students will submit their work on the “Show What You Know” page. You can choose to include this information on one page to consolidate and just title it “Show What You Know.”

Here’s a long list of project ideas. Read about Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects for more ideas.


Think about lessons in school that really hooked you in, or made you want to engage in the lesson. The task and hook work hand in hand to focus the students on the learner outcomes. Designing the task and hook is a balancing act between providing the students with a direction and purpose, but not directing them with steps to follow or a menu of choices. The hook is just what it sounds like. It is a way to compel the students to want or need to know and learn the content the teacher has included in the project.

Some questions to think about:

  • Who owns the problem presented?
  • How does this problem relate to the student?
  • Does the task or problem pass the “so what” test?
  • Do the students have input as to how the task is approached?
  • Are there multiple solutions for the task?
  • Does the problem seem authentic for the student?
  • From (

The Anticipatory Set

  • Give some facts, interesting websites, additional questions, etc. – this is considered the anticipatory set – the part of the adventure where you get students excited about the question.
  • Include an appropriate online game or activity related to your question – don’t just provide a link – give students something specific to do
  • If appropriate for your topic – create a small gallery of photos that fit the question. But give students something to do with the pictures – or encourage them to create a photo album of their own pictures related to the question.


Now you have already created an essential question, a hook, the idea for final product and maybe the graphic organizer.  We are going to explore more about the topic.  Your students might use the “Get Organized” graphic organizer – or there might be an additional one for this section. Your group will need to provide a list of websites that are age-appropriate. Be sure you are not just listing websites, but describing the relevant sites and giving student something to do when they enter a site.  Also, please notice that these websites are your selections, not Google’s selections.  Please DO NOT give me the first five websites you get from any search engine.

Where can you go to find interactive games and resources to use in this section and the “Explore” section?  We’ll look at Thinkfinity – which is an appropriate resource regardless of grade or subject area.


Organizing the Investigation for Students

Now we’re going to create a chart for students to organize information – this could be a KWL chart, a cause and effect chart, etc. It is best if it becomes a tool to help them navigate through all of the parts of the adventure – so they know where to go and what to do in each section.

This will serve as a “to do” list. Use age appropriate graphics. Let’s look at some ways to help students organize information. You may find something you like on this teacher site, you may choose to create an organizer using Dabbleboard, Webspiration, or even using Word. This is up to you and your group. You can also look at some examples from former projects, such as the Health Adventure: You Are What You Eat and the Adventure in the Wilderness.

After you’ve selected or created an organizer for your investigation, include a write up on your Google Site for students. Just posting an organizer isn’t enough. You need to write to the students, explaining what they are going to do with it. Do you want them to print it? If so, you need to tell them. Let’s take some time in class now to select/create an organizer and write directions for students.


In this section, you

  • Give children information on answering these types of questions as a career. (Example: sound: audiologist, musician; weather: meteorologist, climatologist, etc.)
  • Link to sites about the career, conduct a brief interview with someone in the field – include a picture if possible.


In this section, you will write a letter to parents/teachers with the following in mind:

  • An introduction to the adventure for parents: purpose of activities, helpful hints, materials needed, what sections need parental guidance, opportunities for extension (field trips, additional books, etc.), include a list of book titles that relate to the question.
  • Rather than simply listing what you find on Amazon – search the Athens library and the CMC – find good books, not just books on the topic.
  • Include LEARNING OBJECTIVES: use national standards, not state standards.


In your video you will want to tell about yourself and why you choose this topic.  If you have any questions, take a look at the examples we have.

After finishing recording, you need to save the file, even a .wmv file as an attachment to your Google Page. However, the file might be too big.  I can upload the file to YouTube if you don’t have an account, or you can use your Gmail to log into YouTube.   If you are using iMovie, the tutorial includes specific instructions for uploading.


It is the same as the way you construct your e-portfolio and almost every group has constructed.  Therefore, we just need to work on the navigation bar settings.  Many of you are probably wondering why your pages are showing up in alphabetical order rather than the order you intentionally designed. Because we want to create ease in navigation on the site, it is important to organize our navigation bar.  The order that we have been talking about is as follows:

  • Author Introduction (video)
  • Inquire
  • Hook
  • Organize
  • Explore
  • Show What You Know
  • Apply (Finding a Career)
  • Parent/Teacher Letter

You may have chosen slightly different titles to describe you pages and that is perfectly fine.

If you have question in adjusting the sidebars, please let me know and I will help you change.


You have created a new site for this project and you need to make a page to describe this Learning Adventure Project in your e-portfolio before your presentation. So…pay attention:

1. To turn it in, you will need to create a new page on your main website called “Learning Adventure”. Then, write a short description of your Learning Adventure (at least 2 paragraphs).

2. Double-check your learning adventure with the rubric.  All group members should do this – make sure everything is covered.

3. Uploading your video to youtube is the easiest way to embed it onto your adventure’s introduction page.  You can login to youtube with your google account. Once you’ve uploaded your video, copy the url, go to your introduction page, click on “Insert”, then choose Video<Youtube and paste in the url that you copied earlier. You’ll just see a yellow box on your page but once you save the page you should be able to view your video. Or you can just embed the video into your e-portfolio…but again..I will worry that the file might be too big.


I have already listed everything you need for the project.  If you have any question about it, let me know.

1. Today should be the last day for your learning contract if you use two late passes for it.

2. If you haven’t turned in the document analysis and plan to use your late pass, Monday will be the due date for document analysis.

3. Keep working on the product that you want your students to create.  If you are not following the procedure we have in class, make sure you are moving forward in the project.  Don’t wait until Thanksgiving!  We don’t use late pass for this assignment at all!





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