Mazes and Critical Thinking, Getting a Conversation Started.

I am always thinking of different ways to keep the learning happening until that last minute of school and the students are looking forward to that learning.  Even though they are relishing in the thought of leaving the walls of the classroom behind, I want to instill into our students that learning is happening all the time.  How can we prepare students to make with items they have at home? Many times students struggle with just simple paper game boards, but this time we went back to the 1970’s for an idea.  We have made hummingbird feeders, used force and motion to play games with Keva Planks, explored square foot areas for different insects, and today we built mazes.  Let’s make mazes, simple lines, but incredible problem solving that occurs.

 What a simple way to get students talking and interacting with each other at the end of the year.  Most students just want to sit back and are afraid to share their thinking, but this morning I had students working diligently for 30 minutes creating mazes that allowed them to collaborate and discuss different methods of building.  Was this down with a computer?  Nope, good old fashioned index cards and the knowledge that they could do this at home.  Image.jpg
We have been talking all about thinking and collaborating throughout the year and built mazes before, but this time the only item students had was a deck of 50 maze cards.  I found these cards in the Play book, http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Caneys-Play-Book-Caney/dp/0911104380/ref=pd_sim_b_22?ie=UTF8&refRID=1V8PGH92N386QR7W1R7C, and knew that they would allow students to create and revise and discuss for many minutes on end.  This morning students were testing, revising, collaborating, evaluating, giving feedback, all through just the idea of building a maze. If you are looking for a powerful tool to build collaboration in your room, this might be one you want to look in to.  A simple way to use index cards, but a powerful way to build student communication.  This idea brought about wonderful dialogue at the end of the year that can open doors for them this summer.  Maze cards are one item that is definitely being sent home with students for the summer.
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Updated idea:  We also built out mazes and then created our own multiplication board game. Put a green cube at the start and a red cube at the end. Then students roll two dice and answer the multiplication equation. Then they move their playing piece. The first to get to the end wins.
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