Tag Archives: Problem solving

Stuck-First Grade Thinkers

(I just realized I never posted this blog…it was from May 2018.  End of the school year, what can I say?)

At this time of year with erratic schedules, testing, etc. I don’t plan on doing things that involve a lot of preparation and planning.  I got this idea from a school librarian in Panama (and I don’t mean Panama City, Florida).   She did this activity with Kindergarten, but I needed something to do with first grade.

I read Oliver Jeffers’ book, Stuck  to the classes.  In this book Floyd has to figure out how to get his kite out of the tree.  I told the students they had to be thinkers (one of the IP-PYP Learner Profiles). I asked the students to come up with another solution to get the kite down; and they did!  The problem solvers came up drones, helicopters, rockets, airplanes, jets, trampolines, chainsaws, big butterflies and more!  They wrote out their idea and then illustrated it.  They thought the book was hilarious!



This student showed a lot of imagination—using a big butterfly!


Definitely a keeper!

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First Grade-Jon Klassen Author Study



IMG_2713I did this series of lessons last year and the students and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do it again!  I “borrowed” the idea from Jennifer Reed.  I read about it on her blog, Reedarama (https://goo.gl/HMzc4G).

I like to give students as many opportunities to write when they visit the library as possible.  With first graders just reinforcing the idea that “sentences start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark” is good practice.

This Is Not My Hat: Week One

I love this book and so do the students.  When I read the line, “I just stole it”  there are usually several children who just gasp. They are so innocent.  After reading the book I ask them how they think the big fish got his hat back, after all we don’t see the action amongst the plants.

I fold copy paper into thirds and have them write their response on the top one-third.  They use colored pencils, which they really like.  The directions are to first write your sentence and then illustrate it.  I find that some students need a lot of prompting to think creatively.  Perhaps that is because we don’t give them as many opportunities to think outside the box as we should.  There are no right answers here, just your own opinion.



I Want My Hat Back: Week Two

We read this book and I ask them what they think happened to the rabbit. They write their response in the middle third and most write that they think the bear did eat the rabbit.


Translation: The bear “snatched” it off.


We Found a Hat: Week Three

After reading this title I ask the children how the turtles resolve the problem of having only one hat.  This really stumped a few students.  One girl (bless her heart) just kept repeating, “There are two turtles and they have one hat.”  After much discussion I desperately grabbed two pencils and said, “Let’s pretend there are two girls and they only have one bike (I used a book to represent the bike).  How will they solve this problem?”  Finally the light bulb went off and she said something like, “They take turns.”  Break through!  This just reinforces my idea that we don’t let students problem-solve like we should.





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Introducing the Big6 with real-life information need

I decided to introduce the information or problem solving process, the Big6 to my 3rd and 4th grade classes.  I had done it several years ago with moderate success, but was inspired to try again after looking at the Big6 recently in a graduate class.

Connecting the Big6 with Real-Life Problem

This time I started the lesson by showing a poster of the Big6 and telling the students that it was a strategy, model or process that they could use to find information they needed to solve a problem.  I wanted to hook them in and help them see that this model would be useful outside the classroom.

Poster of the Big6 information seeking model or process

Big 6 poster I hung near our chart paper.

Step 1 Task Definition

The Exchange  Club Fair was due to start the next week and most all of the students love going to the fair.  Aha!  A real-life problem…what information do you need if you want to go to the fair.  And so we starting brainstorming and these are the questions one class decided they needed answers to (step 1-Task Definition):

  • How much does the fair cost?
  • Where do you get tickets?
  • Where is the fair?
  • What are the dates the fair is running?
  • What are the times each day the fair is going on?

They were very excited (I’m not sure if it was talking about the fair or about the process)!

Step 2 Information Seeking Strategies

We moved on and the students came up with possible sources of information to answer these questions. (step 2)  The students did a great job listing sources such as the local television stations, local newspaper, the internet, someone who has been to the fair and a few more.

Step 3, 4, 5

We went through the next steps and I had their attention the entire time as this was a problem they would have the next week, when they wanted to go to the fair.

Step 6 Evaluation

Step 6 of the Big6 is evaluating the effectiveness of the product and efficiency of the process.  I asked them how would they know if they had gotten the correct information (effectiveness).  After a few false starts, one of the students said, “We’d be at the fair!”  I went on to very briefly tell them they would be using this process soon when they conducted research on a project in their class.

I think they are more likely to remember this lesson by connecting it to something they can relate to and I’ll definitely use this approach again next year.



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Filed under Information Literacy Instruction