Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Do you ever administer Linguisystems' Test of Problem Solving, in whatever version you have? I always liked this assessment, which taps students' background knowledge and ability to explain things that are, well, common sense. It also struck me as evaluating skills that are necessary in our language-heavy curriculum, with literature circles asking students to explain what they think and why. However, I always regret that time and lack of good resources (frankly, the old TOPS kit and new Tasks of Problem Solving are drill-and-practice snoozefests) limit our ability to address those skills that we may find lacking. How do we build real-world problem solving skills?

One interesting resource in this regard is Swedish if Insurance's (what a great name for an insurance company) Bad-Luck-O-Meter. This is another website with a commercial purpose that can be leveraged for our own needs (I am rubbing my hands together evilly as I write). The site presents 10 timed tasks that ask you to solve a safety-related problem, and would lead to some great discussion with your students. Perhaps a list of "notes to self" could be generated as each task is completed. It's beautifully designed and you can simply skip the offers of "Would you like to find out more about if's alarms (etc.) after the test?"

This task asks students to place alarms in the most effective household locations.

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