Solving Real Problems

Part One: Problem-Based Learning and Critical Thinking
Many of you may have grown up hearing about Jack and the Beanstalk. On the surface it seems a harmless fairytale, but there are many things one can consider from this story. Poverty, theft and murder are a few of the big ones. Argumentation and civics are two broad areas that can lend themselves to many classroom lessons.  Watch this video of Jack and the Beanstalk and consider what points of view can be argued as well as how one can learn about the court system by using this story as a launching point.

Problem-based learning is a method of teaching centered (obviously) around a real-world problem. Students are given a complex problem, and must work in groups, often with guidance from the teacher, to solve it. It often involves several steps and many investigations into unknown content. A great deal of learning takes place, which is then applied in meaningful ways.

Consider a roller coaster. Many of you have ridden one before, although some of you may be very scared to, or haven’t yet had the chance. Let me tell you, Disney World has some of the best ones!!! But let’s take a look at this video for some new coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Anyway, imagine a coaster – what it looks like, what it feels like, and all the things that had to go into the design, development and marketing of it. With a partner, brainstorm a list of ALL the issues and concerns involved with creating (designing and building) it, testing it, and advertising it to the public.  Which Georgia Standards (especially middle or high school) might align to some of the items on your list?

Part Two: Solving the Digital Divide.

While we’ve seen many ways that technology could benefit our students, many people are afraid that recent technology is creating gulfs or divides between people.  We’ve talked about the divide between digital natives and digital immigrants or old and you.  Today we’ll discuss in small groups 4 more of these “digital divides”.   You will be assigned to one of the groups below.  For each group, read the resource listed, and then answer the questions below.  As you work to solve problems, use the 4-step Student Problem-Solving Process on page 160 (page number at the bottom) of your book to come up with a solution.

  1. The divide between Males and Females. Explore this website.
  2. The divide between Rural and Urban.  Read this article and this one too.
  3. The divide between Rich and Poor. Look at this Slide Share presentation. Figure out what’s important and what’ not.
  4. The divide between Developed and Developing NationsPlay this graph (it shows changes over time). Play around with the variables (I’ll show you how).


  1. Provide a short summary of the issue for the class.
  2. How does technology create a divide between the groups?
  3. What type of data source did you use to learn about this?
  4. Where else can you go for more data on this issue?
  5. What is one possible solution to the problem?
  6. What’s one thing you could do in your future classroom to help solve this problem?

Do the Reading Guide for chapter 4 (critical thinking).  It is due in one week (on Wednesday).  This is the last reading guide (If you’ve already turned in 4, then you don’t have to worry about it) and it’s the last chapter in our book that we haven’t already read!  If you’ve already turned in your 4 reading guides, at least scan the chapter.

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