Puzzling about puzzles

Washington Street Elementary School

Students at Washington Street Elementary School use puzzles to develop classroom skills

Students at Washington Street Elementary School use puzzles to develop classroom skills

Did you ever think that puzzles could be a great way to teach students something? Did you ever think that they could gain knowledge and understand teamwork and hard work by simply putting a puzzle together? At Washington Street Elementary School, guidance counselor Roblynne McDuffie put this idea to the test. The results were tremendous.

Each week the students discussed the Darlington Country School District character word of the week. One week, the word was perseverance.

McDuffie says the students look up the meaning of the word and she shares real-life scenarios of what the word means. To help students understand perseverance more clearly, McDuffie developed a simple activity using puzzles. Students were put into groups and each group had to work together to complete the puzzle.

“Working together gave the students hands-on knowledge about perseverance, hard work and teamwork,” McDuffie says.

McDuffie was not the only one who witnessed students displaying perseverance. First grade teacher Porsche Jackson witnessed a group of students taking this task to the next level.

“When I arrived to pick up my first grade students from guidance, I observed them working collaboratively to put together a puzzle,” Jackson says. “Some puzzles were more complete than others, some students were working more appropriately than others, but they were all working on the task at hand. Who knew such a seemingly simple task of putting together a puzzle could develop such great skills?”

The puzzle activity showcased skills developed in students that have a hard time in the classroom. Jackson was quick to notice that the most completed puzzle was done by a group of students that are not usually recognized for having such skills. “After speaking with the adults who facilitated the activity, I learned that one of my students, who is often off task in the classroom, was the student in the group who excelled and had done the majority of the puzzle. This was mind blowing,” Jackson explains.

The teacher wondered what it was about doing a puzzle that inspired him. “I knew that whatever it was about the puzzle, I could use it to meet this student’s needs and the needs of all my students,” Jackson adds.

Joshua Jackson, first grader in Mrs. Jackson's class was excited about using puzzles at school. “I was really happy when I finished the puzzle first,” he says proudly. “The puzzle was really easy.”

For more information about the using puzzle activity to teach students about perseverance, contact Washington Street Elementary School guidance counselor Roblynne McDuffie. For more information on the benefits of using the puzzle in the classroom, contact Mrs. Porsche Jackson, first grade teacher at Washington Street Elementary School.

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)