Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teachable Moment

During "Us Time" today, our sea turtle groups had to solve some pretty tough math brain busters.  As the groups finished up, I encouraged them to join other groups and help.  Eventually, and completely unintended, we wound up with the whole class trying to solve one math problem.  It was quite a sight.  And since we didn't have anything too pressing for the rest of the day, I let this one ride.  I was curious to see how it played out, so I literally just sat back and watched.  This totally irked the students.  They had no idea what to make of the proud, dad-like smirk on my face. 

Quite frankly, I was amazed by the way they worked together without any ill-will or arguing.  There were encouragements, manners, moments of nervousness, and of course, a few indirect complaints.  However, nearly every child made an effort to help in some capacity.

There was one issue though.  They couldn't solve the problem.  Ha!  Despite all of the aforementioned greatness, they simply couldn't get over the hump, and it wasn't until I encouraged (okay...made) the few who didn't initially help go and solve the problem.  The others took a much deserved break.  It simply got to be a classic "too many cooks in the kitchen" type of problem.

In the end, this exercise was much more valuable than anything else we had planned for the rest of the day.  It built trust, strengthened problem solving skills, and gave the kids a heavy dose of real-life frustration.  The final and solved problem now hangs proudly above our SMARTboard as a gentle reminder of what it takes to be a collective team. 

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