If you try this activity with your students, we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform.
Discipline: The basic structure of this activity can be applied in just about any discipline.
Age level: Developmentally this is probably best for grades 3 and up but with some tweaking of language this could work for all grade levels.
Time: 30 minutes to several hours depending on how far you want to go with the project.
The word resolve means determination to get something done. But if you add a beautiful hyphen, the word resolve becomes re-solve, and that means to solve something again. And the word resolution becomes re-solution, meaning another, or different, solution. This activity encourages students to consider what problems might benefit from re-solving.
What to Do:
Begin the activity with a brainstorming discussion rooted in students’ personal experiences. The goal of this discussion is to have students identify themselves as problem solvers and problem finders. Here are questions you might use:
- What makes something a problem?
- What makes something a solution?
- What are some problems you have solved recently? Describe the solutions you came up with.
- What are problems you’ve seen other people around you solve? How did they do it?
For this brainstorming activity it would be good to take notes somewhere students can see so they have a visual way of tracking the discussion. After students have demonstrated an understanding of the terms and provided a robust list of examples, move onto “re-solving” with questions like:
- What are some problems people have to solve over and over again? (How to deal with the effects of climate change. How to earn enough money to pay the bills. How to get where you’re going when there’s traffic. How to get all your school work done and still get enough time to hang out with friends. Etc.)
- What are the benefits of finding new solutions to old problems?
- Can you think of examples from history where problems were re-solved? How about in stories you’ve read?
Once you get the sense the group is sharing an understanding about what it means to “re-solve” a problem, invite them to break up into pairs. With a partner they will do the following (this part can be tailored to your discipline!):
- With your partner, identify a problem either in the school or in the content you are teaching that would benefit from being re-solved. Examples include:
- How to travel more efficiently through the hallways.
- How to balance a chemical equation.
- How US forces could have prepared better or adapted more qickly to navigate guerrilla warfare.
- How Romeo and Juliet could have prevented their tragic end while still staying together.
- Work together to re-solve the problem and share your plan and approach via a google slide deck. You will present your solution to the whole class once the planning and writing are over.
Students should share their presentations with the whole class and you may even want to include a component where listeners reflect upon the presentations, ask questions, and then rate the presentations based on previously identified criteria (i.e. clarity of ideas, professionalism of the presentation, thinking outside the box). This rating can help presenters identify areas for improvement but should not be part of a formal grade.
After the class has completed this activity, reflect as a whole using questions like:
- What gave you the idea to address the problems you chose?
- Were you surprised by your discoveries?
- Based on this experience, what do you think the benefits are of trying to re-solve problems?
Standards Addressed by this Activity
Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language
Conventions of Standard English:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Knowledge of Language:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing
Text Types and Purposes:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Production and Distribution of Writing:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8 Mathematically proficient students notice if calculations are repeated, and look both for general methods and for shortcuts. Upper elementary students might notice when dividing 25 by 11 that they are repeating the same calculations over and over again, and conclude they have a repeating decimal. By paying attention to the calculation of slope as they repeatedly check whether points are on the line through (1, 2) with slope 3, middle school students might abstract the equation (y – 2)/(x – 1) = 3. Noticing the regularity in the way terms cancel when expanding (x – 1)(x + 1), (x – 1)(x2 + x + 1), and (x – 1)(x3 + x2 + x + 1) might lead them to the general formula for the sum of a geometric series. As they work to solve a problem, mathematically proficient students maintain oversight of the process, while attending to the details. They continually evaluate the reasonableness of their intermediate results.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Competencies
Social awareness: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. This includes the capacities to feel compassion for others, understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
Responsible decision-making: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards
|Dimension 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries||Dimension 2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts||Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence||Dimension 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action|
|Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries||Civics||Gathering and Evaluating Sources||Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions|
|Geography||Developing Claims and Using Evidence||Taking Informed Action|