THE FWSU Story: Creating Problem Solvers at GEMS

Middle-level students have been hard at work at GEMS this fall in creating creative solutions to different types of problems. The brainstorming and creations of possible solutions have been found in and around our core content classes as well as our UA. 

Creative and Practical Problem Solving is one of the five Transferable Skill proficiencies that FWSU and GEMS have been working to incorporate throughout our proficiency-based learning and reporting. The Transferable Skill of Creative and Practical Problem Solving requires that students do things like: 

  • observe and evaluate situations in order to define problems.
  • identify patterns, trends, and relationships that apply to solutions.
  • generate a variety of solutions, use evidence to build a case for the best responses, critically evaluate and repeat that process to generate alternative solutions.
  • identify opportunities for innovation and collaboration.
  • use a range of tools, including technology, to solve problems, and
  • persist in solving challenging problems and learning from unsuccessful attempts.

Students in Mr. Hardy’s grade 7 math class have incorporated their mathematical understanding to create and share proposals to me on ways they would like to improve and expand the experiences along our walking path.

Last UA block, Mr. King’s Tech Ed course offering was helping students to design and build their own dragsters. This course culminated with a drag race competition to determine which design was the fastest. It was great to hear students discuss and debate the many different variables of what created the more successful designs. 

Mrs. Hardy, our Enrichment teacher, taught a course last block called Problem Solvers. When asked about the course, Jen shared the following: 

“We started the UA block with nonroutine style problems on paper and a few classroom-style escape activities. Then we moved on, to search the building for authentic problems. The problems kept rolling in, once we solved one, someone else would say how about this. Students didn’t get to them all, but some they did pursue was creating a school map, a ramp for the 1st-grade cart, and keeping plants from being trampled. They also tackled safety and congestion problems in the lobby and hallway headed to lunch. Lastly, we are waiting for quotes designed to increase the feeling of belonging here at GEMS. Students loved the feeling of accomplishment they got from being helpful and making our community a better place.”

These are only a few of the many examples of how our students are inspired to create, innovate and problem-solve at GEMS both to extend their learning and continue to improve our community.

Julie Conrad is the Middle School Principal of Georgia Elementary Middle School. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her at @JulieConradVT

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