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Puzzles for Process

Found in: pairing & grouping; puzzles

I use puzzles as an introductory activity for setting up cooperative groups, or starting a new unit. I find that they build thinking skills, cooperation, and self-analysis/reflection. I use a puzzle of 25 to 100 pieces, depending on the age and ability of the class, for each cooperative group. I set the puzzles out on group tables, just the pieces, no picture of what the puzzle will look like when finished. Then I pick pieces from each puzzle -- enough to give each student one piece -- and put them in a container. To keep the puzzle pieces from getting mixed up, I buy puzzles that are different in design and color.

As students enter the room they take a puzzle piece from the container and find the table that has the puzzle their piece fits into. They start putting the puzzle together right away, which keeps them busy while other students join them. Before long the whole class is engaged in putting their puzzles together in their different groups.

After they finish putting together the puzzles, I ask them to discuss these questions:

1) How did your group cooperate to get your puzzle together?
2) Did you get your puzzle done in the allotted time?
3) How did you feel trying to put a puzzle together without seeing a picture of what it was supposed to look like?
4) Did everyone in the group feel the same way?
5) What did you learn about yourself working in a group?
6) What did you learn about your learning style?


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