Teaching is often viewed as conveying information.
But teaching involves so much more than just knowledge.
It also requires a lot of higher order thinking, especially in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. This is especially true for problem solving.
Teaching problem solving skills is much harder than delivering a lesson based only on knowledge. It also helps your students succeed in the future that much more.
The solution to instilling these thinking skills lies in problem solving lesson plans.
These are the five best problem solving lesson resources for any grade level:
All of these resources have both pros and cons, so looking at each one individually is key when planning your problem solving lessons.
Let's get to it!
TeacherVision is a paid digital resource that offers free online lesson plans.
So even if you can’t afford the full TeacherVision product, you can still benefit from their free items — which include problem solving lesson plans!
TeacherVision tops the list because of the sheer quantity of the lesson plans they offer.
At the time of publication, they have more than 2000 lessons and teaching strategies that apply to first through eighth grade.
They also list the resources you’ll need to complete a lesson, ensuring you’re not caught off guard when you start in the classroom.
TeacherVision also lays out a general procedure, which includes recognizing conflicts, defining problems, considering solutions, and deciding on a course of action.
Altogether, that makes TeacherVision a robust resource with a logical layout and versatile products.
On the downside, the lessons are only appropriate for students between first and eighth grade.
Still, this is only our first resource. If TeacherVision doesn’t suit your needs, you have plenty of alternatives!
Ed Creative is a subdivision of Education.com that collects lesson plans from other online resources.
That makes Ed Creative one of the best lesson plan databases online.
It includes lessons from all kinds of sources including the New York Times, Ezra Jack Keats, Archimedes Lab, and Crayola.
Ed Creative also has lessons from overseas, including several from the United Kingdom.
This resource is the first that lets you get in direct contact with the page’s curator. Edmund J Sass, Ed.D. maintains the lessons on the page to make sure they’re still accessible and up to date.
You can even contact Edmund to suggest your own resources (or point out links that stopped working).
On the downside, many of these lessons are intended for children up to eighth grade. Still, if you look hard enough, you can find a few that are intended for high school and beyond.
On the upside, some lessons overlap with other subjects. For example, one resource is entitled Thinking Critically About Advertising.
The lesson encourages students to consider behind the scenes angles when presented with ads, encouraging them to think critically and logically about why the ad is what it is.
Still, these resources are a little disorganized. If you’re looking for something more structured, you’re in luck!
Discovery Education is a branch of the Discovery Channel, the world leader in educational television programming.
Just like their TV channel, Discovery strives to provide a high quality learning experience online with its problem solving lessons.
They list out the objectives, materials, procedures, and more. Best of all, many of their lesson plans include real life scenarios that students could encounter every day.
Discovery gives you the necessary vocabulary, a point based rubric, academic standard resources, and a full procedure that’s proven to help students learn.
This lesson plan in particular is designed for students between kindergarten and fifth grade, which is a pretty small window.
It’s also intended to take one or two class periods. So this lesson plan won’t be a great way to fill time, if that’s what you need.
On the other hand, it can instill some powerful thinking skills in your students at an early age.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing for you to print or show from Discovery. They don’t provide visual aids or templates for the classroom.
That means you’re on your own for presenting the information.
The framework is there for you, though. That makes it easier to get started with a full blown lesson.
BrainPOP is a common core curriculum developer with lots of teaching resources for every grade level.
In this case, their problem solving lesson plans are intended for any student from sixth to 12th grade.
BrainPOP lays out the steps that students take when they begin this lesson plan.
These steps include applying critical thinking concepts, approaching situations from multiple viewpoints, weeding opinions out from facts, and demonstrating 21st Century skills.
BrainPOP lays out the procedure, materials, and everything else you’ll need for the lesson — even time approximations!
That thorough approach to detail makes it easier for you to plan different tasks you’ll carry out throughout the lesson each day.
Even if the lesson takes you a full week, you can still plan appropriately and stay on task.
Unfortunately, BrainPOP doesn’t have a lot of downloadable resources that you can print and use in the classroom. So once again, you’re on your own when it comes to executing your lessons.
Still, BrainPOP gives you an excellent starting point and a lot of food for thought.
But what if you want to teach anyone, regardless of grade level?
TED is best known for its branded TEDTalks. TEDEd is also an active advocate of education and learning materials.
That’s why they have an enormous section of their website dedicated to problem solving skills.
In this section, you’ll find videos and interactive tasks that let you walk students through riddles, problems, and complications to find desirable results.
Every riddle and problem comes with an answer, so you don’t have to worry about figuring it out yourself.
Even better, you can be sure that there’s a practical solution to every issue.
Best of all, you still leave students with the freedom to innovate their own solutions, potentially creating a new solution that a riddle maker hadn’t considered.
The varying complexity and length of these lessons makes them ideal for any grade level. You could even use them in post-secondary logic classes to teach procedural thinking and inferences.
On the downside, these aren’t literal “lesson plans.” TEDEd provides a whole host of resources, but they’re not contextualized for a classroom.
Instead, you’ll have to build your lessons around these resources to get the best results.
This makes TEDEd an excellent catchall for any time you need problem solving materials.
You’ll just have to do a little extra work to make it classroom ready.
All of these lessons are free and ready for use at any time.
They’re great ways to teach and reinforce positive problem solving skills.
Best of all, you can use them in just about any classroom and grade.
So now you have to ask — are you ready to teach problem solving lessons to your students?
We believe in teaching lifelong skills like problem solving.
If you want to start teaching those skills, check out our programs to see if they’re a good fit for you!