Saturday, January 11, 2014

Incorporating Logic Problems

Hello Bloggie World!  I'm Deniece from This Little Piggy Reads.
I'm a Texas Teacher with 10 years of experience.
If you aren't aware, Texas is totally different from the entire country.
TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) drive our instruction, not Common Core.
This year I was offered an amazing opportunity to teach 
Gifted & Talented Students across our district.  Each elementary school is bussed to our campus a different day of the week.  I teach a 4th/5th split class.  My students beg to be challenged.  I love my job!  

We start off every class period with a logic problem.  I've used a variety of them.  TpT has some great free and paid resources for logic problems.

How do logic problems help students?
Logic problems increase their reasoning and problem solving skills.
It is basically a mystery that students have to solve by sorting through the evidence.
Shown in Pic: Thanksgiving Jokes
Our district has pinpointed skills that all of our elementary schools have deficits in.  In reading, we know that they lack inferencing skills and in math we know that they need more exposure to solving multi-step word problems.  Logic problems marry both skills in a fun and engaging way.

When I say logic problems, you might automatically think of SUDOKU Puzzles or Logic Grids.  Don't forget about riddles, rebus puzzles or word games. 

Have you ever been in a room with all gifted students?  
It is surprisingly quiet (except for my Tuesday class).  I have to force them to talk!  I know teachers across the blogosphere are turning off their computers or yelling expletives at me.  If I give my students a SUDOKU Puzzle or a Logic Grid, they will take their pencil, move to a corner of the room and choose not to talk to anyone. 
Shown in Pic: Whose Grandparent is it?
However, if I give the table a baggie with a riddle or a problem to solve and offer an incentive for the table that answers the problem first (or within 7 minutes), I begin to hear chatter.  I enjoy listening as they discuss different solutions to the problem. They are highly motivated when I tell them the prize is 1 hour of gum chewing in class.  

Now, I'm sure all of you have morning work or bell work.  
I know I did in my inclusion classroom.  But, it was silent seat work.
Let's be serious, I needed to drink my coffee in silence.
If I reflect upon this practice, was this the best thing for my students? No, not always.

All of my students needed exposure to problem solving.  My ELL and RtI students needed to hear the process their peers were using to find answers.  My Gifted students needed to be challenged.  This activity helps build social skills, due to its collaborative nature.

Do you use logic problems in your classroom?  If not, I challenge you to incorporate them once a week and watch your students collaborate to find answers.  To get you started, I made a beginner logic puzzle with moveable pieces.  It's scaffolded with a chart that younger students might need to get started.



  1. My third graders love logic problem! Thanks for sharing!


  2. I am totally going to use your freebie next week! Thanks for sharing the story behind it!

  3. I too teach in Texas. I love logic puzzles. Years ago I started when I taught a gt reading class we started every day with a perplex word puzzle. These puzzles are words shaped to give an new meaning. The students loved them. I can't wait your activity with my fourth graders. Your products are outstanding and students enjoyed your author's purpose read around the room activity. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Deb and Michael - I hope your kiddos enjoy using the hands-on logic problem.

    Mrs. Bahr - I'd like to see the Perplex word puzzles. I'm glad your kiddos enjoyed the Author's Purpose Round-the-Room! I have 2 others in my store that are TEKS aligned if you're interested.


  5. Deniece, love your post! So often we bend over backwards trying to reach the struggling learners, it's easy to forget the kids that need a challenge, especially because they are usually quiet! I teach a diverse group, but could definitely see the value for all in these logic problems and can't wait to incorporate them in my class! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. This is a great post!! I am in Texas also! And it is SO true my 2nd graders DON'T think for themselves!! The majority of my class is now reading on grade level so the work I give them with simple directions at times they don't know what to do. It is driving me crazy I have been trying to come up with a way to get them to THINK and I am SO going to try some logic problems... Like you said once a week that is doable and it will be something special!! LOVE

    Kickin It Whole Brain In Texas

  7. Brenda - honestly, I always felt like my GT kiddos were left out of my regular ed classroom. I gave them projects to do every 6 weeks, but I just felt like I never truly got to spend as much time with them as I needed/wanted because I spent so much time with my RtI students. You're not alone.

    Chelsea - I definitely think once a week is doable and once you do it a few times - they totally get into it.