Building “Critical Thinking” & “Problem-Solving” Skills… with Google
“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist;
using technologies that don’t yet exist,
to solve problems that we don’t know are problems yet!”
– Karl Fisch, educator
“Critical thinking” and “problem-solving” skills are cited by employers as their “greatest need” in the workplace. But, national and state curriculum standards are loaded so thick with content that there is little time to cover anything else.
Yetttttttt… that content will be outdated by the time our students enter the workforce.
I want my children -and my students- to know HOW to learn, organize, and find information. Of course, that’s my objective in teaching “study skills.”
Taking Small Steps Towards “Critical Thinking” Skills
“Google for Educators” provides a free tool to help all of us “sharpen our saw” and develop problem-solving skills. It is called AGoogleADay.com. At this website, Google provides a daily question that can be solved using Google tools: the search engine, maps, satellite views, calculator, and others.
It’s just like Trivial Pursuit, but with a welcomed twist… you can research the answer!
I must admit that I tried a few questions and only managed to find one answer on my own. For the others, I had to look at Google’s solution. However, in all cases, I learned more about doing online research. This is a highly relevant way to teach students (and ourselves) how to research information more effectively and solve problems in multiple ways.
How To Use “A Google A Day”
Researching Google’s daily question would be a great “introductory” activity at the beginning of class. Set a timer and see what your students can find in five minutes. I can just imagine a classroom of students trying to collectively conquer Google! They would have a lot of fun… and learn something along the way.
I will be adding this tool as an optional resource to our Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide. It can serve as a simple, daily ice-breaker and a way to help students build their research skills. (After all, the “A” in SOAR® means “Ask questions.” :))
At home, I foresee some Google contests between my husband and siblings. We call my sister-in-law the Queen of Google because she’s notoriously good at finding obscure information, but I think we would all have a little fun trying to compete for her title. (Maybe we are just a family of Google Geeks, but I really do see the potential for this to be the next “Trivial Pursuit.”)
This simple activity is what I call a “Power Strategy;” it packs a lot of learning in a small amount of time. Of course, the real impact comes from repeated practice, but much can be gained from five minutes a day!
Don’t take my word for it… try it yourself. You may find it a bit frustrating at first, but you will learn from it and your students will love it!