Problem of Practice

Long Division:  Well-Structured Problem;

Long division problems are well-structured problems.  Khan academy will offer tutorials and practice for students.  The Oswego website offers pre-long division skills (practice with simple division facts).  These are well structured because they are linear in nature and follow a certain path to get to one end.

Writers Workshop:  Ill-Structured Problem



This site offers students graphic organizers to organize their thoughts and models of student writing.  There are a variety of different tools with which students could use to write.

This site would be best served for an ill-structured problem because students put their own text in and then we discuss, as a class, what we notice about the work as it is applied to the particular mini-lesson of the day.

Upon thinking about this activity and noticing what one of my classmates did, I thought about how MentorMob is an excellent website to use for organization and to get at the ill-structured problems of practice.  It organizes videos, websites, articles around central themes.  There are learning presentations that are already made our you can create your own.  This would be really great to be able to make one for the class as it would document the learning that is going on and what different students could add to the content as we are learning it.  Having said this, it reminds me of a particular quote from “Tech Trends” by Dr. Punya Mishra.  “At the core of our approach is an understanding that even as we value disciplinary learning, there are cognitive-creative skills that cut-across disciplinary boundaries.  It stems from scholarship that demonstrates how creative scientists and artists generally use a key set of thinking tools work with disciplinary knowledge.  As RootBernstein(1999) notes:  . . . at the level of the creative process, scientists, artists, mathematicians, composers, writers, and sculptors use . . . what we call ‘tools for thinking’ including emotional feelings, visual images, bodily sensations, reproducible patterns, and analogies.  And all imaginative (and effective) thinkers learn to translate ideas generated by these (p.11).”  Teachers are artists.  They continually “sculpt, paint, mix, repurpose, remix, mold, cobble, and create to help their students learn whether it be well-structured or ill-structured problems of practice.


Mishra, P. (n.d.). Rethinking Technology and Creativity in the 21st Century. Tech Trends.

Root-Bernstein, R.S. & Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of genius:  The thirteen thinking tools of the world’s most creative people.  New York, NY:  Houghton Mifflin.


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