Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Problem Solving

Identify problem

It is important for the student to recognize what the problem is in order to begin to solve it. They need to be able to focus on the presentation as well as gather all the information needed.

  • Direct the student to the problem by using statements such as "Look here."  "This is important."

  • Color code important information written on an overhead or white board.

  • Present the specific purpose of the task or assignment to the student. Use rubrics to define the expectations.

Data Gathering

Teach student to use self-questioning techniques:

  • What do you already know?
  • What looks familiar?
  • What do you need to do?
  • What are the features of the task?
  • What is important?
  • Direct student to systematically scan a page or a visual presentation.
Activity: Use the Where's Waldo? or I Spy books to locate objects.  When locating, have them move across the page with their finger in the left to right/top to bottom direction.  If they cannot find it, have them approach the page from the bottom and work backwards. 
Selection of Relevant Information
  • Teach students to recognize and highlight words in problems that indicate a procedure.
  • Use guided questions to direct selection of information. This will direct the student to focus on the plot of the story. 
    For example, when reading, do you think this story could really happen? 
  • Use study guides to help direct student to select important information during lectures
Seeking Clarification
  • If students have gathered information, and cannot determine what they need to do, cue them to ask questions for more information.
  • To check for understanding, have students restate the directions in their own words; if they state the directions back verbatim, encourage them to use different words. 
  • Provide students with any clarification to help them understand the problem.