From: Jakob Schulze
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 31 Oct 1996
Remote Name: ss1-pc13.ucsc.edu
Ivan,8 Eugene, Jakob
I played with Ivan. After checking a couple of games that he didn't like, he discovered that Puzzle-game. He likes Bart Simpson, so he began putting together his picture. That is the easiest one, because it has very clear features and colors. He did the first 4-by-4 puzzle pretty easily, and asked me what to do now. I proposed trying another picture and help him to browse. But he didn't like the ones he saw, so we continued doing Bart with more and more pieces.
When it got more complicated, the use of strategies became more and more important. He always started assembling objects like Bart himself and the skateboard that is in one corner, but had problems with the rest. So Eugene and I jumped in, leading his attention to useful small features, or suggesting more general means of organizing the pieces (like "all the pieces with blackboard depicted go to the top"). I believe, that Ivan learned something, because he was able to finish the8-by-8-puzzle with some help. I got really tricky in the end.
After that he tried to assemble a picture of a cheetah, that he hadn't seen before. It was very difficult for him, because the features were unclear, unlike the other picture, where you know "this is a part of Bart's head, so it goes somewhere here..." He got it done with some help, but then chose some other game to play.
Although he did improve, I would have liked to see clear evidence that he used more sophisticated strategies. After I went hom from BU I found, it would have been a good idea to teach some kind of strategy like: "sit back, close your eyes for a second, take a deep breath. Open your eyes and look at it from a distance, then start working again." But the good ideas tend to come later.
It seemed to me that the differences between unexperienced and experienced puzzlers include (at least) three different abilities: attention on details, broader strategies, and overcoming sets about how it has to be.
how can we teach strategies or lead a kid to discover them him/herself?
how can we assess if kids really use these strategies in the future?
does anybody else know more interesting strategies for puzzles or other games that he would like to share?