Last week I attended my son’s Back-to-School night and walked away smiling. His math teacher, Ms. Griffin, spent a long time talking about games and puzzles and very little time talking about SOL tests and homework. At the end of her presentation, she gave us a puzzle for us to bring home to the kids. Can you solve it?
Take eight eights and, using only addition, find a way to make 1000. Don’t Google it. That will ruin the fun.
One particular puzzle tool Ms. Griffin shared with parents were pentominoes. She told us she likes pentomino puzzles because they teach students to step back, think, and try new approaches every time they get stuck. Perfect! It is a great problem-solving habit of mind to acquire, this iterative, creative approach to problems. Ms. Griffin also mentioned spatial reasoning, something that was in the news this summer (at least the news I follow). Researchers at Vanderbilt University had good things to say about spatial reasoning that back up Ms. Griffin’s use of pentominoes in the classroom.
Exceptional spatial ability at age 13 predicts creative and scholarly achievements more than 30 years later, according to results from a Vanderbilt University longitudinal study, published today in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Yes, I know. I don’t like it when I walk into a room and the kids are playing games on the computers. The thing is, there are games and then there are games. Shoot-em-up games are not the same as BigSeed or Kickbox or Contig, all of which are on our iPads here at GCPS. Good games make players think, not just push buttons faster and faster. Good games teach players to be persistent, to be creative, and most importantly, that there can be many ways of arriving at a solution that does not have a 25% chance of being right if selected randomly from a list. Good games take time to master and lots of thinking. Good games are hard fun.