Exercises to develop PBL Skills:

Building a Foundation for Problem-Based Learning:

1) Critical Thinking Exercises — What is being asked, and what is expected from me?

2) Creativity Drills — What are different ways to approach this problem?

3) “Woodchuck” Problems — What information do I need to provide an answer to this problem?

  1)  Critical Thinking Exercises - these are problems where students must determine what they are truly being asked, and how they are expected to respond

Forced Choice—students must make an abstract choice based on the characteristics of objects | View Sample
    Example:  “Are you most like a sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic rock?”

Abstract Questions—students are asked to answer questions that have no definite answer | View Sample
    Example:  “The term ‘exciting calmness’  best describes what period of American history?  Why?”

What would happen if…?—students are asked to describe an alternate set of circumstances | View Sample
    Example:  “What would happen if all novels were exactly 100 pages?”



  2)  Creativity Drills - these are problems that can be approached from a number of different ways, and students must provide multiple responses

Complete Paraphrase—students must re-state a simple statement using new wording  | View Sample
    Example:  “A lion is a predator” becomes something like “A large cat with a mane eats other animals”

How Many?—students are asked to come up with as many scenarios as possible that fit a set of criteria | View Sample
    Example:  “Come up with as many multiplication problems as you can where the answer is 9.”

SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another user, Eliminate, Reverse)  | View Sample
    —students are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with original ideas for a concept
    Example:  “Design a better mousetrap.” or “What would be a great alternative ending to your favorite book?”




3)   “Woodchuck Problems” - these are problems where students need to ask questions and seek out more information before they can provide a logical answer | View Sample
    Example:  “How long does it take to fill the tank up with water?”

 (Teachers will provide students with relevant and irrelevant information as they seek out details about the Woodchuck Problems.  Sample talking points will be provided for the teachers for each problem.)

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