Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are not just words we use in hopes that our students will gain confidence one day. Lessons that allow students to develop these skills become an everyday endeavor. We intentionally teach students in a way that allows them to use these skills in the moment and we also look for them to use these skills on their own without the reminder. Here, a student is painting a mural with his classmates. He is painting a tree that represents him and in the process he was hoping to use green because green is his favorite color. As you can see, the green is gone after more than a half a semester of painting class. Instead of complaining or asking for new paints, this students cheerfully got to work mixing yellow and blue because he knew how to be resourceful and creative with the materials that he had and the skills that have been taught to him. It seems simple, but it's a reflection of the ability of a child to think clearly through a scenario and come up with an effective solution. 

Critical thinking and problem solving are not just words we use in hopes that our students will gain confidence one day. Lessons that allow students to develop these skills become an everyday endeavor. We intentionally teach students in a way that allows them to use these skills in the moment and we also look for them to use these skills on their own without the reminder. Here, a student is painting a mural with his classmates. He is painting a tree that represents him and in the process he was hoping to use green because green is his favorite color. As you can see, the green is gone after more than a half a semester of painting class. Instead of complaining or asking for new paints, this students cheerfully got to work mixing yellow and blue because he knew how to be resourceful and creative with the materials that he had and the skills that have been taught to him. It seems simple, but it's a reflection of the ability of a child to think clearly through a scenario and come up with an effective solution. 

Hello Parents, 

We had a very full week and it was so good. As a whole class incentive this quarter, the students have been working towards a Hot Chocolate, Brownie, Movie party. Each day, they have the opportunity to gain points (stamps on a large chart in our classroom) for collective positive behavior and maintaining the classroom well. Here are some of the ways they earn points as a class: 

  • They are guaranteed 10 points a week just by every student having their iPads charged every day of the week when they get to school.
  • They earn another 5 points if they collectively earn 100 points on Class Dojo in a week.
  • They can earn 9 extra points if every students receives enough individual points to earn a blue punch on Friday afternoon.
  • They can earn 1-2 points for each class period when the whole class participates and the course teacher feels that there was a collective earning of a point.

It's been a great tool this year to help the class work together, look out for one another and remind each another to stay on task and participating. On Friday, we had quite the afternoon celebration when they earned 15 points in one day for earning over 100 points as a class and all nine students receiving a blue punch this week. It's very rare at this point in the year that everyone would receive blue punch in the same week, so they were all shocked and thrilled. I reminded them that all of these stamps were earned together because of the care they have for one another and their efforts of working together. I pointed out moments when they had taken their whole class into consideration in order to earn points. I love seeing them work hard together. It's a wonderful picture of how different they all are and how they need one another to function well as a body. After not obtaining enough points last quarter for a surprise party, the students have had an exceptional quarter thus far with overall behavior, attentiveness, participation, critical thinking and working together to accomplish wonderful things. With their motivation, we might be having a party much earlier than I ever expected. I am proud of them.

This week, we also had students finish their READ! chart for Language Arts, which earned them 10 points individually on Class Dojo when they returned it. On Monday, we celebrated as Luke was the first to bring his back. He worked hard over the past five weeks, not missing one day,  to develop a habit of reading everyday. Since Monday, two other students, Jorah and Sophia, also returned their charts. We look forward to more coming in this week. Be on the lookout for a new chart and system this week as well. The students and I brainstormed a set of awesome ideas for another round of nightly reading fun, so I know they are excited to get started with something new. It will have some further changes with how students report that they have read as well, so I will send an update when the new chart is ready. 

Luke was all smiles as he returned his READ! chart to school on Monday. 

Luke was all smiles as he returned his READ! chart to school on Monday.