Session 4 - Section Beta

In our fourth (and final) session, which was on the day after the third session, I gave children to choice to sit in 7 pairs of two and 1 group of 3 with the only condition being that they sit in a part of the class different from where they sat yesterday. Once again, I would recommend reading this post on a computer/laptop or tablet with a big screen to appreciate our classroom work.

After discussing the feedback from the previous session (mostly positive but with some concerns raised about wanting more time to do the puzzles), we began with our first puzzle of the day - Dominoes. I designed this puzzle to be done in pairs with one set of puzzles for every two kids.

I started this puzzle differently from previous ones - I gave them the following sheet and asked them to take 3 minutes to discuss with their partner and make educated guesses on what the rules of the puzzle might be. Can you try and deduce the rules before reading on? 😊

I called on different groups to share a rule each and was pleasantly surprised at how they were able to, quite accurately, come up with the rules of the puzzle. Here they are...
  • Each Domino tile needs to be used exactly one time.
  • Domino tiles can be read horizontally either from left to right or right to left.
  • Domino tiles can be read vertically either from top to bottom or bottom to top.
  • Domino tiles cannot overlap.
  • There is a unique solution that can be logically deduced without guessing.
I was especially happy that they came up with the 5th rule as they were starting to realise how guessing in logical puzzles was a terrible strategy!

With the rules clear, I gave them about 15 minutes of time to work on the puzzle with their partners and jot down strategies/approaches in their Thought Book. As we had spent over 5 hours together by this point, children were mentally prepared to think through strategies and ponder over the puzzle with persistence. By now, they had realised that sharing strategies and working with their partner sincerely would lead to a far better learning experience for them.

Observe how they have written strategies in their Thought Book and are using them during their discussions to methodically tackle the puzzle.

Here are a couple of samples of student work from the introductory puzzle. You can see the errors and rubbed out markings as they went through the journey of understanding and coming up with strategies to solve the puzzle.

I gave them a second set of puzzles that they worked on for about 20-25 minutes before they wrote down their reflections on the Dominoes puzzle. They came up with some pretty neat and insightful observations.

Our time together was drawing to a close...

The last two agenda items were a complex puzzle (Logical Elimination) and End Course Feedback (will discuss this in detail in the next post). Here is the Logical Elimination puzzle that we worked on which is a variation of  the Einstein's Riddle.

This was the hardest puzzle in the course which is why I planned it for the end. It contained a lot of information that could be overwhelming and clues that seemed straightforward on a single glance but gave layers of information beneath. I hoped that they had internalised strategies/approaches from the earlier puzzles that they could use to systematically approach a problem when the path to the solution was not obvious.

Here are some of the approaches I saw as I walked around class...

Of course, my students found the puzzle hard. But, what I found admirable was the way they went through the puzzle 2-3 times and began thinking of ways to break it down into something more manageable. 😀 Below is a photo of the class hard at work on Logical Elimination.

We closed class with my students filling out the End Course Feedback (to be discussed in the next post) and a class photo. I had a truly enjoyable experience with Beta and am grateful to all these wonderful children for being such enthusiastic learners. 😃