Critical Thinking & Problem Solving to Learning Adventure Project


You can earn extra credits, if you submit your reflection about SMARTBOARD session

  • How to submit your reflection: add your SMARTBOARD reflection in your Reflections page in 20% project blog and titled, “SMARTBOARD reflection”
  • Due date: by Sunday, Apr, 13th

PART ONE: Group problem solving activity


PART TWO: Problem solving

  • There are 2 types of problems: open-ended and close-ended.
  • Could the balance activity be considered problem-based learning?

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.




Let’s look at more examples from previous semesters (example 1 & example 2).

After looking at the student 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.


Let’s look at the grading rubric so you’ll understand what needs to be included in each section.


  • 4/10: Outlining: Essential questions, brainstorming, outlining, learning goals
  • 4/15: Work Day 1: Websites, Hook, Activities
  • 4/17: Work Day 2 (Feedback Day): Descriptions of Activities, Letters, Apply
  • 4/22: Presentation

STEP ONEWhat is an essential question?

You’ll want to get students interested in your topic by starting with an essential question. We’re going to try and write a few ourselves today.

  1. On an index card, write a question related to a topic about which you enjoy learning. For example, “what happened to the dinosaurs?”, “why did the Titanic sink”, etc.
  2. Get in a group with 3 other classmates, and use a tubric to turn your question into an essential question.
  3. How good is your question? Use the essential question development checklist on the last page of this handout to see how well you did.

Share at least one good question with the class. Then, as a class, we’ll form a definition of essential questions and talk about how you can use these in your Learning Adventures.

STEP TWO: Backwards design – project-based learning and the “Show What You Know” 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 – then next week we’ll working on organizing resources to help them create their projects. Just as we choose a recipe by looking at pictures, a lot of kids will choose your adventure based on the project they will complete.

Problem-based learning (PBL) vs. Project-based learning (PBL)

Why does project-based learning even matter? 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?What did you learn from the articles you read/videos you watched before today’s class?  How does this apply to your Learning Adventure?

Problem-based learning

I believe most of us won’t like to learn something that is not applicable in our daily life, right?  I remember I always asked myself the same question when I was learning advanced mathematics in high school.  For example, calculating the probability.  Do I need to know what the probability of taking a green ball out of the bag while there are 2 green balls mixed with 3 red balls and 2 yellow balls?  Therefore, we try to make everything more real and applicable.  That is the problem-based learning.  We try to solve the real-world/ authentic problems.  You see a lot of problem-based learning in architecture education, business education and medical education.

A lot of problem-based learning is strongly connected with project-based learning.  Project-based learning does not need to tackle with a real-world problem.  At the same time, students are usually more involved or have much more control in the project.

STEP THREE:Brainstorm project ideas

Now it’s time to brainstorm project ideas. What kinds of projects might your student do? Will they create a glogster poster to show how the define a hero? Or will they create a stop animation 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. Here’s a long list of project ideas. Read about Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects for more ideas. This is a great place to use some of the tools you’ve learned about this semester.

Once you have a question and a project in mind, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to help students come up with an answer to your question and show you what they know (i.e. what they believe the answer is) with some type of project.

STEP FOURSubmit the Form

Submit This form when you are ready to respond



1. 20% Project: 5th posting and reflection is due is Sunday, Apr, 13th.

2. Come with outlines of your Learning Adventure Project. We will use our class time to create activities. Outlines include Essential questions, brainstorming, outlining, and learning goals. You may want to create your website during the weekend.

3. We will create QR codes for your Learning Adventure and 20% Project.

4. We will have a guest speaker session about Open Educational Resources(OER). We will learn how we can contribute to the global education by our educational resources(tool commercial, Movie Trailer, Stop Animation, and Learning Adventure).



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