Teaching with Puzzles


Which puzzle teaching strategies will you try out with your classes? Do you have other techniques or ideas to share?


I like the free play option. I think that my students will grow by trying their different ideas without being contained to what is given to them!


I also like the free play. The puzzle techniques are my main goals though…


I like that the students work in pairs and collaborate. If one student gets frustrated, often the other student can help pull them through.


I’m excited to see if the evaluation blocks will help my students understand how the distributive property is correctly applied to fractions. I’m hoping it will help them understand that (8+x)/4 is not the same as 8/4 + x.

I found great benefit in the free play area. Initially, I struggled to create my own problems, but I love the idea of having students create puzzles for other students to solve!


I’m excited to use the Evaluation Blocks with my students to the Order of Operations and different properties. I think that it will help them truly understand these processes.

I also like the free play area as I have had kids in the past really enjoy block coding and am anxious to see if this will transfer.


I think I’ll let students use coding to solve a few problems in the textbook whenever possible.


I think I will start with the paired programming to get them used to working together.
They will need paper-based activities to help them understand some of the concepts better.
The free play will allow them to take what they already know and then have fun exploring what else they can do.


I agree that the free play option has the most flexibility and offers the biggest sandbox in which to play.


I, too, plan to use free play. I’m also interested in tracking down/setting up extensions for the puzzles to provide extra challenge.


I know students hate to struggle but they are going to have to work thru this. Another reason for the pairings.


My question is I’ve heard that some people have had the kids do free play without learning the design recipe—I wondered if it is then hard to come back to teaching them the processes within coding if they start by free play?


This is one that definitely depends on the students and their skill levels. Starting with free play and exploration can be powerful for many students, but you’re right that it becomes more challenging to bring them back into the structured process after freely exploring. The trick to it is motivating the need for the structure of the design recipe - give them a really challenging problem that necessitates the design recipe process. Let them chew on it, struggle, and then bring the the design recipe as their savior, the way to make sense of this problem that’s too big to tackle without structure.


Mix it up because I am aware that students need variety in their instructions and activities in class, and the same is true when working online. I will consider breaking up a programming session using the same techniques you’d use elsewhere in your class, such as Jigsawing a stage of puzzles or working through puzzles in larger groups.
Free Play Fun


I will allow my students to work in pairs. I believe that student discourse will help to further thinking and increase understanding. I know that I benefited from working in pairs during the PD.


I love the combination of the design recipe and circles of evaluation. I am really excited to see students make the connection between mathematical functions and coding functions.


I think the evaluation blocks are a great way for students to organize their work.


I like the idea of using the design recipe for word problems and the circles of evaluation. I am curious to see if it will assist students who struggle with solving numerical expressions.


I really like the idea of “unplugging”. Cognitively we haven’t evolved enough yet where we should be tethered to technology as much as we are. Students still need to know how to exercise their brain without technology. To be a well balanced individual, you need to step in and out of comfort zones to keep the brain nimble and adaptable to various situations.


I use “design process” to break down concepts in my STEM classes. It is somewhat similar to design recipe. My students would benefit if I utilize design recipe in my classes.