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Building Problem-Solving Skills Through “Speed Dating”

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When students solve each other’s problems, they gain confidence in their own skills and witness the power of collaboration in real time.

English language arts teacher Cathleen Beachboard was trying to come up with new ways of encouraging her students at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, VA, to be solution-oriented, and she noticed that while kids often get stuck on their own problems, they are quick to find solutions to other people’s. Her husband jokingly said, "Wouldn't it be cool if you could just speed date problems?" And the problem speed dating activity was born. Beachboard has used this quick and simple strategy in her classes ever since.

“Today we were working on argumentative writing. But you could use this in any scenario, in any classroom, for any stuck point that the kids are having with any piece of content,” she says.

In addition to hearing multiple ideas for solutions to their problems, kids get to know each other—and learn to see each other as experts in the room.

“Problem speed dating ultimately teaches them that as a society or as a person, you're not alone,” Beachboard says. “And reaching out to others is important because that's where the magic happens. It happens when we use each other and we use the strength that every person has.”

For more strategies on collaborative learning, visit: https://www.edutopia.org/topic/collaborative-learning

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