Learning Literacies - Solve It

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If everything you try works, you are not trying hard enough --Gordon Moore

Solve It - Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

Problem solving is part of everyday life. The good new is - we can learn to be better problem-solvers. There are strategies for breaking problems in to manageable pieces and for prioritizing the pieces to solve. Here we will work on some tricks and techniques for you to add to your learning tools. Don't leave home without them.

High Expectations

Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important for everyone -- for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when you hold high expectations for yourself and make extra efforts.

Learning outcomes

  • use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems
  • make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools, strategies, and resources.
  • identify problems, create methods of investigation, collect data, and make informed decisions based on my findings.
  • use tools such as calculator, survey, spreadsheet, graphing software, flow charts, and concept maps.


problem-solving, prioritization, methods, strategies, risk, failure, learning opportunity

Study notes

  • What strategies are available to guide problem-solving?
  • How are the Scientific Method and the Engineering Design Process different? How as they similar?
  • How do you know when you are using critical thinking?
  • Why should everyone learn basic programming skills?
  • How is failure really a learning opportunity?

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Problem solving, critical thinking, learning, dealing with failure

Asking questions

  • 8 Tips for Becoming a Better Questioner - Innovation starts with questioning. Here's a quick list of 8 things great questioners do that set them apart from everyone else.
  • 15 Things You Will Never Hear a Master Questioner Say (video 2:29)
  • *Learn by Asking Questions - Asking Questions May Be the Single Most Important Thing You Learn
  • Learning To Ask The Right Question - a six-step process for learning to formulate questions and take ownership of learning. The strategy can be used to set a fresh learning agenda for yourself, develop science experiments, create research projects, begin research on a teacher-assigned topic, prepare to write an essay, analyze a word problem, think more deeply about a challenging reading assignment, prepare an interview, or simply get “unstuck.” The four rules are: ask as many questions as you can; do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions; write down every question exactly as it was stated; and change any statements into questions.

Mobile tools

  • 5 Apps To Help You Cope With Anxiety - there is an app from almost everything it seems.
  • BYOD Toolchest - created by a teacher, this list outlines mobile apps that students and teachers can use for just about everything related to teaching and learning.


  • Hour of Code - main page, video, link to tutorials. Learn to program by directing Angry Bird characters
  • Scratch - a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations.

Tests and exams

Resumes, careers

Also see...

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  1. Problems-solving strategies - Review several articles from the Media section and pick out 2-3 tips for problem solving that are particularly helpful. Post the tips that you selected, a link to the source for each and a brief description about why you selected these tips to Problem solving strategies discussion.
    Review what other students suggest and pick out 2-3 that you like. Reply to those posts and describe how you would use these strategies.

  2. Problem-solving - Watch the video Can You Solve This? (video 4:43) - Interesting demonstration of how people can get sidetracked from the actual solution. Did you figure out the rule before the others in the video did? Why does it take so long to figure it out? Post your thoughts about the problem and problem solving to the Can you solve this video discussion.

  3. Goal-setting - Research and write short description about someone you admire whose success that you aspire to reach. Your description is not about the accomplishments. Describe at least three habits that the person used to achieve their goals. Two of those habits must be before they were "famous." Rather than copying personal mannerisms, consider emulating habits. Post your description and references to Habits of Success discussion. Review the descriptions of 3 others.

  4. Coding - Watch the Hour of Code video (2:22). Then do the one of the tutorials and programming challenges. Were you able to follow the instructions? What did you accomplish? What did you learn about programming? What critical-thinking and problem-solving skills did you use? What questions do you have about programing and the Hour of Code experience? In the Hour of Code discussion, tell us which tutorial and programming challenge you did, and provide a brief description of your experience.

  5. Scratch - Scratch - Create stories, games, and animations. Share with others around the world. Read the background information about Scratch. Explore some of the examples. Pick one example and figure out the problem solving that was needed to make the Scratch program you selected. Post a link to your selection, and a brief description of the problem-solving to the Thinking about Scratch discussion.
    Review the selections 2 other posting and provide feedback about the problem solving in the examples.
    If you think programming with Scratch looks like fun, go ahead and create a program of your own. You can start by making a copy of one of the examples and modifying it or you can do something entirely on your own. Be sure to share a link to your work in the discussion, too.

  6. Science knowledge - Do you know more about science and technology than the average American? Take this 13-question quiz to test your knowledge of scientific concepts. Then see how you did in comparison with the 1,006 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine. Then record your result in the anonymous Scientific Knowledge choice.
    Is the test a good representation of what you learned in science classes? Based on your results, do you think your science education was average? Post a brief note about your science education experience (not your score) to the Science education discussion.

  7. Test-taking - Review some of the media selections about test taking. How is online testing changing what can be tested? Have you been tested online for other courses, or job related information? What would you like to see included in online testing? Quizzes can be used for teaching and learning as well as for determining what you know. Sometimes there are no right or wrong answers! In addition to the questions and the answer, there can be explanations and guidance about where to find more information about a particular topic or important point. Take the quiz Self-Study Quiz. Take the quiz several times to see all the different explanations provided depending on your answer. In the Self-Study Quiz discussion, suggest 1-2 other questions, answers and explanations that you would add to the quiz. Some of these questions will be added to the quiz for students who take the quiz later.

  8. Test drive - Quizlet - Quizlet is a web tool for creating flashcard quizzes. Review several quizzes at Quizlet. Create a quiz of your own. Your quiz can be for a course you are taking or about a subject that interests you. Post a link and a brief description to your quiz to Test drive - Quizlet discussion.
    Take the quizzes of 2 other students and provide feedback.

  9. Testing - There is a lot of discussion about standardized testing in schools. At the same time there is a concern that students need to be prepared for a world where technology is changing everything - jobs, socializing, learning, communication. What are your thoughts about testing? How important is testing? Are there other ways to tell how much you know? Can testing provide misleading information about what someone understands? What would you suggest for determining what students are learning and what they are missing? What questions do you have about testing and alternative assessments? Post your thoughts and questions to Testing discussion.
    Reply to 2 other students. What are your thoughts on their questions?

  10. I learned - Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making - What is ONE important idea that you learned about solving problems, including taking tests? Submit your response as 2-3 sentences in the I learned... - Solve it assignment.

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