Picture-forming logic puzzles for classroom use

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 Capital A solution

For the last 15 years, Polly Carter* has taught Graduate In-Service courses for teachers involving development of various types of puzzles for classroom use. During each of the last six semesters, two courses have been entirely on-line. This coming Fall, Polly Carter plans to add Part 3 involving Applications of Picture-Forming Logic Puzzles for Classroom Use.

“Conceptis has been developing age-appropriate LAP (Link-a-Pix) and MAP (Maze-a-Pix) puzzles for schoolchildren and now my teacher-students will try them out in their classrooms," says Carter. "The goal is to help children learn something that is already in the curriculum - in addition to developing problem-solving logic skills, experiencing the joy of intellectual success, and enhancing social ability to work in teams.”

According to Carter's plan, after a teacher becomes familiar with the LAP/MAP process, he or she will conduct introductory lessons for the children using Conceptis' tutorials and a demonstration of the use of pixels in image formation. The children will practice with individual Conceptis samples on their own level. They might then prepare reports or make up stories about the subjects. This introduction will be followed by three classroom projects.

The first classroom project is the depiction of a computer keyboard. Within this stage, each child will receive one or more LAP puzzle hiding a single character of 10x15 pixels, including spacing on all sides. In standard-sized classrooms, each child will do 3-4 of these character puzzles. Similar to the way jigsaw puzzles are solved, these pieces will then be combined by the class to produce poster-sized computer keyboards, one upper-case and one lower-case. There are 94 characters available as LAP puzzles, including all printable characters that they are likely to find. The non-standard-size keys and labeled control keys such as Shift, Enter, Space and Backspace, are not included and can be made and added by the children depending on the keyboard they are accustomed to using. A teacher may select from two sets of different difficulty levels so they could be used in the early grades. A class might also use the characters for bulletin board messages and hall displays.

Portrait gallery of famous Americans

The second classroom project involves a large colored World Map puzzle, described in a companion article by Mike Sharp titled Creating the World in Four Schooldays. Carter's teacher-students will also test this out with their classes.

The third classroom project is an Inverted MAP Portrait Gallery of Famous Americans. Inverted MAP puzzles are solved just like regular mazes, except the true path is painted lightly while the false paths are painted with a dark color, thus enabling the creation of portraits. Conceptis has already developed six of these and is preparing more to be ready by the end of September.

Each child would do a puzzle and prepare a research report. These might also decorate a hall or room bulletin board. Teacher-students will prepare evaluation reports on each of the Projects, as well as a final evaluation. These evaluation reports will then be made available on Conceptis Puzzles and Kids Forum. The Forum also includes links to the puzzles being used in the class projects, making them available to other Forum members.

"The priority is to develop puzzles that can be used to help teach something that the children are already expected to learn," says Carter. "Children love appropriate puzzles of all kinds, probably because they usually result in immediate success. My teacher-students are enthusiastic about using puzzles in general and look forward to these new types."

Polly Carter is a retired teacher and computer consultant. For the last 12 years, Carter has taught graduate in-service computer courses for teachers involving the use of computer-created puzzles in the classroom. Mrs. Carter is also a moderator of the Conceptis Puzzles and Kids forum.

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