What are the characteristics of great problem solvers?

problem-solvingFor the past couple of months, I have been working on adapting the Workshop Model of Reading and Writing instruction to design a course I will offer in our school’s new maker space next year. What I especially like about the workshop model is that it deemphasizes content in favor of building the strategies and habits of mind that make a student an effective reader. The whole “give a man a fish…” metaphor looms large here.

It became very clear to me that it could be adapted to almost any subject. It is a really strong model for student-centric, problem-based learning, and I wanted to see if I could apply it to teaching electronics and programming. But the habits of effective readers didn’t make much sense in this context. What are the strategies and habits of mind that I want to impart to my students in an electronics course?

I realized it isn’t the content, but the strategies, which are most important. I want my students to be great problem solvers. I want them to learn how to learn. I wrote the following Strategies for Effective Problem Solvers, which will be the primary learning objectives of my 7th and 8th grade Physical Computing course next year.

(Next page: Ten characteristics of effective problem solvers)