Early in my staff-development career I was working with a group of teachers in central Maine and I asked them to develop a process for a challenging unknown large-group problem that we were to give them later in the afternoon. They created a deck of “cards” to help them. They used the cards to help address their large-group problem and did an outstanding job. I took their cards and over the years my colleagues and I have tweaked them and created the following activity.
After giving the students a “fun” practice problem to solve as a large group, such as “Warp Speed” or “Tower of Power" and debriefing the result, I tell the students the following, “You will be getting an “academic” large-group problem to solve in the afternoon and there will be a group of people coming in tomorrow at 11:00 AM to hear the results of your “challenge.” I want you to think about the process you used on this practice challenge and what process will help you get the best results in the afternoon challenge. I want you to look at this deck of cards and put them in an order that you think will help you with your task. Keep in mind that, if you want, you can discard some cards or create new ones. You can think of some cards as “wild” cards that can be used at any time in the process. You have twenty minutes to put them in an order that you think will help you with your challenge.”