The first thing that was really interesting was that a bunch of my students said, "Done!" I've got it!". They quickly found a solution that worked and were satisfied that the solved the "challenge".
|Here is an example of student work giving me only one solution
|Examples of students being asked to go back to the drawing board. Now I was getting more than one solution.
Another student kept trying. She would email me one solution then I would ask her if she could think of more and I got her thinking about looking for patterns. After a few back and forth tries, she emailed me a solution with all 14 possibilities worked out. I was so proud of her for persevering and for the excellent thinking that she showed.
Many of my other students are still working on it, and I am hopeful that they will come up with all the possible solutions.
The second thing that surpised me was that many of my students immediately asked me, "If I do this challenge, will I get any bonus marks?". You see, I showed them this challenge as an additional thinking task to try, it was not the focus of a lesson. I was shocked that my students were willing to do the challenge, but only if it counted for something. What have I (or we - the school system) done to students to make them think things are only worth doing if they are "worth" something. What about the love of learning? What about curiousity and intrigue? Are those not "worth" something? Where has the internal motivation to learn gone? It probably has something to do with the emphasis we put on grades and marks. My school is beginning go down the path of examining our assessment practices so that hopefully soon we can get rid of numerical grades. Perhaps this will make a difference. But, in the meantime, it is disheartening that many students have lost their internal drive to learn. Maybe I will just keep doing more of these challenges, and hopefully they will jump in and reignite their love of learning!