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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Take Your Students on an Odyssey of Discovery by guest blogger, Mary Pat Vargas

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 10.42.19 AM.pngWhen I began teaching in the Union School district over 20 years ago, I taught children in the district's gifted and talented education (GATE) program. Today I find myself in a very similar position as a STEAM ToSA. Of course, the curriculum is different, but the GATE and STEAM programs share a common goal: to provide opportunities for problem-solving activities, design thinking, and collaborative discovery.

Today, sites devoted to providing problem-solving activities seem limitless, and so many of them are excellent.  I would like to share an organization that I used quite often in the GATE program. If you investigate the methods described by the Odyssey of the Mind program, I’m sure you’ll agree that it is a wonderful way to encourage creativity, teamwork, and divergent thinking in your classroom.  Odyssey of the Mind problems follow a script; the procedure is the same every time you introduce a problem.  Students learn to listen, encourage, and to wait patiently - all important considerations when fostering the creative mind.

“Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment.”
Although Odyssey of the Mind exists as an organization where students compete, they generously publish problems from previous competitions, and these are downloadable on the Internet. If you have a just a half hour – use spontaneous verbal problems to provide opportunities for students to work as a team and to think creatively. Here are a few to consider:

You’ll probably want to try a few hands-on spontaneous problems: