ACE Update!

ACE Level 2 classes have been extraordinarily busy over these past few weeks working on thinking skills.

In third grade the watchword for all ACE Level 2 students has been logic.  We’ve been tackling a number of problems, puzzles, and games that require the use of logical reasoning.  They have solved some pretty tricky problems using toothpicks.  In the end, they should have learned that the puzzles were a lot easier to solve when they used the knowledge gained in one puzzle and applied it to another puzzle.  And they no doubt heard the refrain “try working backwards” multiple times, as that’s another great way to solve many problems.  In English sessions we have tackled  Deducibles and Perplexors , while in Math sessions we’ve tried our hands at KenKen and Kakuro puzzles.  Whether the work happened in an English session or a Math session, the goal was the same — to help the kids recognize that slowing down and assessing where you are before proceeding to a future step can be helpful and that revisiting clues is a necessity when engaged in logical thinking!  Perhaps the biggest hit of the logical reasoning unit so far has been the game Doggnation – the kids keep asking about trying it again, so I suspect an encore presentation will be in their future…

Fourth graders in ACE Level 2 Math classes have been focused on complex (seriously complex!) math problem solving.  Part of our efforts have been concentrated on just learning how to read some of the problems and understand what is being asked.  The other part of our time has been aimed at developing strategies that make us more efficient problem solvers.  For example, when faced with a problem such as:

“If I start at 7 and count by 3’s, I get the set of consecutive numbers 7, 10, 13, 16…N where N is the fiftieth number.  What is the value of N?”

…the kids have learned that although this problem can be solved by listing the 50 numbers needed, it can also be solved lickety split if they simply apply a useful strategy.

Meanwhile, the fourth grade ACE Level 2 English classes have been taking a look at symbolic thinking.   Together we’ve read several poems and books which, while easy to understand on a literal level, become far richer when the symbolic content is understood.  So far we’ve found authors use names, weather, birds, and size to make their work more complex and interesting.

In fifth grade, a great deal of excitement has been generated among the ACE Level 2 Math students with the start of the Stock Market Game.  Given $50,000 dollars which stocks should they buy?  The kids have been busily discussing, researching and making decisions, but they better be careful – in coming weeks the value of their stocks might be impacted by any number of fictional events!

ACE Level 2 English classes at the fifth grade level have been engaged in a critical thinking unit.  They’ve learned that listening to an idea from all sides, reading carefully and then re-reading, and attention to detail are all key to evaluating ideas and making decisions.  They’ve solved some Directive Detectives (if you don’t pay attention to detail when solving a Directive Detective page, there’s no hope for your success!), debated whether Sealand is a country or not, and made some decisions critical to the survival of the colonists on the planet Braxos in the game Quandary.

And finally,  Level 2 English classes at all grades 3-5 are busily preparing for their first Word Masters Challenge of the year.  They have been introduced to the words, made poor Stickman suffer in their tales crafted using challenge words, and solved a number of analogy puzzles using their words.


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