Using iSolveIt Puzzles in the Classroom

iSolveIt puzzles are designed so that they can be used at any time; they are not content-specific. Most middle and high school students have been able to solve several puzzles in a 15-minute session. They have the flexibility to be incorporated into the math curriculum in different ways. The puzzles include levels of increasing difficulty with embedded supports to aid students in discovering solutions, so that they can be used by students with the variety of skills and abilities found in a typical math class.

The two current puzzles reflect different degrees of “mathiness.” One requires basic calculations. The other is based on the concept of ratios, but no knowledge of math per se is needed to solve the puzzles. Future puzzles will be designed on a continuum from those that require no math skills to ones in which math supports solving the puzzles.

The puzzles are designed so that students can work through puzzles individually at their own pace. However, to support reflection and justification, it is important to have students share their thinking. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Students can work in pairs or small groups, taking turns in trying a solution strategy and explaining it to their group.
  • A specific puzzle can be assigned to be solved individually. The students can then compare their strategies in a class discussion.
  • The puzzles can be used as group or whole class activity in which students make suggestions for actions and share their thinking on strategies they would use.