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GO BACK All Goal Posters THIS SKILL Problem Solving THIS GOAL Solving a Problem

Solving a Problem

This complex goal pulls together multiple cognitive skills that are used in order to make decisions. New thinking pathways are created as students practice a series of steps to analyze the problem, determine if there is a need for help, devise logical solutions, and use critical thinking skills to choose the best solution.

Preview an SEL skills lesson: Solving a Problem

1 Show the video to your students

Narrator: When we have problems, we need to be able to figure out how to solve them. There are a few steps you can take when you need to solve a problem. The first step is to identify the problem.


Julie: (internal thought) I want to go to the after school club today, but I didn’t tell my mom. I don’t have a cell phone with me. I don’t know what to do. 


Narrator: Julie wants to stay after school, but needs to find a way to let her mom know. That’s her problem. Next, she needs to decide if this is a big or small problem. Big problems may need the help of an adult. A small problem is one you can solve yourself pretty quickly.


Julie: (internal thought) Is this a big problem or a small problem? If my mom didn’t know where I was, it would be a big problem. She would be very worried. I’m not sure what to do, so I’m going to ask for help. 


Julie: (out loud) Ms. Lehane, I need help. I want to stay after school today, but I don’t have a phone to call my mom and ask.


Narrator: Nice job asking for help. Now Julie and her teacher will think of some different solutions to the problem.


Julie: Hmm… what should I do? Maybe I could use someone’s phone after school.


Teacher: Well, we should make sure it’s okay with your mom first. You could use the phone in the office to call her. 


Narrator: They came up with some ways to solve the problem. It’s helpful to think of more than one way to solve a problem. Now Julie has to pick the best way to solve her problem.


Julie: I’ll use the phone in the office to call my mom right now. It seems like the best option. Thanks!


Teacher: You’re welcome. I’m glad we’ve talked through the problem.


Narrator: Julie was able to solve her problem with a little help, so it didn’t turn into a big problem. If you have a problem, follow these steps: (1) Identify the problem; (2) Think about if it is big or small. Do you need help? (3) Think of some solutions; (4) Pick the best one to solve your problem. Observe. Is my problem solved? Do I feel better? You may have to try a couple of times until the problem is solved.


2 Review with the Companion Worksheet
3 Apply new skills with activities & games!

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Other SEL materials on Solving a Problem
Big or Small Problem Video
Big or Small Problem

Elementary School

Problem Solving Interactive
Problem Solving

Middle & High School

Interactive: My Helpers Activity
Interactive: My Helpers

Pre-k and K

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