Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Introduction

Your creativity projects are due today.

Summing up Creativity and Innovation

We’ve spent a long time looking at creativity tools and applications for classroom use. What are your takeaways? On your index card, write down the one big idea you have from this past month. Look for a key word or phrase in what you’ve written and circle it before you turn in your card.

Remember, according to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) educators should create opportunities for students to:

demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:

a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
c. use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
d. identify trends and forecast possibilities.

Group problem solving activity

Our next topic is problem solving so we’re going to do a group activity related to problem solving (it’s also one of my favorite science activities).  In groups of 4, using the 3 bamboo skewers and clay – create a structure that balances by the point of one skewer on your fingertip.

Problem solving group discussion

Within your group – respond to one of the following questions:

  • There are 2 types of problems: open-ended and close-ended. Which was the balancing activity?
  • How is the balance activity an inquiry activity?
  • Could the balance activity be considered problem-based learning?
  • When have you experienced the problem-based learning approach in your classes? (What is problem-based learning?)
  • How is this connected to critical thinking? For that matter, what IS critical thinking?
  • Here’s the NETS for problem solving (and other related areas):

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:

a. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
b. Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

Learning Adventures Project

Today we are starting a new project, one that will continue until the end of the semester. We’ll be calling this the UGA Learning Adventure Project. You have all created lessons, digital stories, a personal website, blog sites and more. Now it’s time to integrate all your skills into one project.

Let’s Look at an Example

Before we get to all the details, let’s first look at some examples from past UGA students. You are basically creating a web site for students, parents, and teachers. The site is meant to guide a student through an adventure of your choosing (of course, it’s nice to offer them choices within your adventure as well).


After looking at the examples, what questions do you have? How do you think the adventure could have been improved? Do you notice any missing elements of the adventure that could have made it better? Think on this – maybe as we work through the project, you will want to go about it differently. That’s okay! Just be sure to talk with me to let me know your ideas.

Partners and Groups

I would prefer you worked with a partner or a group of three for this project. It’s okay if you find yourself planning an adventure in a subject or grade different than the one you identified at the beginning of the semester. I am open to people working alone, but you need to be forewarned that this is a lot of work – being able to share the work load will help you stay on target. Before we think about choosing groups, let’s set up some expectations for working together on the project. We’ll record this in a Google Doc for future reference. You do not have to decide today who you’d like to work with, but be prepared to share this in class on Wednesday.

Project Rubric

Open this UGA Learning Adventure Rubric.  Talking through the rubric will help you understand what is expected of you throughout the project. It also contains a time line so you can keep on target. You will notice that the criteria for receiving full credit is part of the rubric. Let’s look at this together. We will also be creating our own criteria for the project as a class.


Come prepared to work with a partner , tri, or group of four on Monday. You should talk with them about the topic you want to address for the project. It can be anything really. We will have time Monday to continue talking about the project and also time to brainstorm/talk with classmates.

Here’s the link to the rubric and you can see below for the tentative schedule wrapping up our semester.

4/1 – Essential Questions

4/3 – Hooking Students (The Anticipatory Set)

4/5 – Creating a Graphic Organizer for Students

4/8 – Creating Exploration Activities for Students

4/10 – Creating ways for Students to Show What They Know

4/12 – Helping Students Find a Career/Parent-Teacher Letter

4/15 – Workday

4/17 – Author Introduction Videos

4/19 – Workday for your group to finalize the Learning Adventure

4/22 – 4/26 – Learning Adventures Showcase (Final Group Presentations) – I love this week!!! Plan to bring food!!!