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What: Problem-solving is a current trend taking place in education but it is more than simply solving a problem. Authentic problem-solving allows students to take ownership of a real-world problem and through critical thinking experiences create an applicable solution. Dee Lanier, creator of Solve in Time, offers the following suggestions for creating authentic problem-solving opportunities in the classroom on the topic of climate change. 

  1. “Start with empathy. One way to build their empathy in students is by exposing them to the harmful effects to people, wildlife, and their ecosystems. As discussed in Part 1, this can be done by taking trips to museums and nature parks, bringing in guest speakers either live or via video conference, or by taking them on virtual field trips across the globe using apps like Google Earth or Expeditions.
  2. Provide Choice. After exposing students to several causes and effects of the problem, one of the easiest ways to ensure relevancy of a topic is to allow student agency in what specific aspect of a problem they are most interested in exploring. Below is an example of a mind map that starts with the central topic of pollution and branches out to several other sub-topics that can be explored.
  3. Create Competition. Nothing seems to get students excited (about anything) more than a little team competition. Think about penny drives, can drives, running for a cause, etc. Galvanizing students to work together in smaller teams and try and outdo classmates in doing good for others is a healthy way to build students’ capacity for empathy. As an example, special thanks to Tony Vincent for sharing this challenge from National Geographic for Tackling Plastic! Registration is currently closed, but as you can see on National Geographic’s site, this is an annual competition that teachers can use to help build awareness around global issues and teach valuable research skills such as making the connection between plastics and climate change.” (Dee Lanier, 2019)

References:

All sourced information is hyperlinked as applicable above. 

TLDR (too long didn’t read):

Problem-solving is a current trend taking place in education but it is more than simply solving a problem. Authentic problem-solving allows students to take ownership of a real-world problem and through critical thinking experiences create an applicable solution. Dee Lanier, creator of Solve in Time, offers the following suggestions for creating authentic problem-solving opportunities in the classroom on the topic of climate change. 

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