Critical thinking is a necessary component in problem solving. In order for students to find the answer to a math problem, he or she must be able to decide what steps are needed to reach the solution. Additionally, the order in which these steps are undertaken is sometimes critical to solving a problem correctly. This is especially true with word problems, which can contain multiple steps, or require learners to find more than one answer to one problem. One way to teach and strengthen critical thinking skills is through teaching logic. Logic problems can develop critical thinking skills by opening the door to higher-level thinking.
Make Logic Stations a Part of Every School Day
Fitting logic problems into the school day can be easy. An early-finisher or math extension station can be set up somewhere in the classroom. Have your students go to this center after finishing class work. These logic stations can also be incorporated into your math centers. Logic stations can contain riddles, Sudoku puzzles, and/or challenging word problems. Consider requiring each learner to complete a certain number of problems per day at the logic station, or have a time or number-of-visits requirement. I recommend requiring either a certain amount of time, or two visits per day. This is because the goal is to encourage higher-level thinking. This can take time. Time pressure can cause kids to pursue the easiest solution, rather than taking time to think about the various ways they can solve a problem.
Include Logic in Daily Lessons and Reviews
Morning work or daily math reviews can also include logic problems. For example, a fourth grade teacher could write four sixes on the board and ask the class if they can use any mathematical operation to make the four sixes equal thirty. Along these same lines, it’s pretty simple to add one logic problem that is related to the day’s learning to nightly homework assignments. You can also add a logic problem as an extension to a math assignment.
Offer Extra Credit for Attempted and Solved Logic Problems
Gather logic problems in one place. You can either do this by having the problems somewhere the kids can access electronically, or by passing out an old-fashioned stack of papers stapled together. Either way, have enough problems, with enough variety, that pupils can pick and choose which kind of problem they want to solve. Most likely, they will start with problems they know how to do (or at least have an idea how to approach), but as their confidence builds, they will attempt different and more difficult problems. I suggest offering one extra-credit point for an honestly attempted problem, and two extra-credit points for a correctly solved problem. The goal is for extra-credit problems to supplement the logic problems already incorporated into class time.
Watch Developing Logic Skills Strengthen Learning in Every Subject Area
Once your pupils begin to think critically, their learning and problem-solving skills develop and strengthen. They learn strategies for solving problems that can be applied in areas of study other than math. They can use their new reasoning process in almost every discipline. Logic problems also help with differentiation, because it can provide an extension activity for those learners who have mastered the basic skills. And it can challenge your quick-finishers to stay engaged and learning. Incorporating logic every day will not only enhance math learning, it will benefit all areas of academics!
Logic Lessons and Activities
Venn diagrams are used to logically categorize numbers. The circles of the Venn diagrams are called logic rings. Pupils sort numbers by multiples, even, odd, etc. . . . They learn the relationships of numbers while problem solving.
Create a weekly math challenge center in the classroom. Use a table or a bulletin board for this area. Fill it full of logic/challenge math problems and puzzles. This is great for early finishers and those that need an extra challenge in math.