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Solving the Problem

This modelling the tools is incorporated into critical challenges at Kindergarten, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.


Session Two

Recall students' experiences.

  • Ask students to recall what it was like when they first came to school in kindergarten. Discuss whether they had feelings of uncertainty about how to do things or what was expected of them; e.g., What problems did you encounter? Did you know where you were supposed to go? Did you know what you were supposed to do? How did you feel?) List the difficulties they encountered. Invite students to speculate what it would be like to go to school in another country where people do not speak their language and things are much different. Explain that you are about to read a true story about a little girl named Saoussan who came to Canada from Lebanon or introduce the alternative story you have selected to read.

Read and discuss story.

  • After reading the story, review with students what it was like for Saoussan in her new school. Ask students to suggest some of the things that happened that might have made Saoussan feel badly; e.g., couldn't understand what the teacher wanted, frightened by the Halloween skeleton, peed on the teacher's lap. Record these in a column under the heading, Saoussan's Problems. Invite students to comment on whether or not they think Saoussan's difficulties are very different from their own. Encourage students to share similar experiences they have had in moving to an unfamiliar setting. Help students appreciate that Saoussan did not understand many things about the culture in her new country, might have missed life in her own country and probably felt confused and alone.

Brainstorm possible solutions.

  • Ask students to imagine that Saoussan had moved to their school and become a new member of their class. Ask students to suggest how they might have helped Saoussan overcome each of the identified difficulties. As shown below, record students' suggested solutions in a column next to the list of problems. Accept all suggestions and encourage several possibilities for each problem. Use stick drawings to record ideas if students are emergent readers.

Helping Saoussan

Saoussan's problems

What we could do

  • couldn't understand teacher
  • show her what to do
  • speak to her in her own language
  • couldn't talk with other children
  • smile and show her what to do
  • use a few words in her own language
  • was frightened by the Halloween skeleton
  • show her pictures of children in costume
  • take down the Halloween skeleton
  • was scared by the teacher jumping up and down
  • explain things to her in a quiet way
  • give her a hug

Develop criteria.

  • Review the list of suggested solutions with students. Ask students to consider how they might decide which of the suggestions would be the best for each of Saoussan's difficulties–what factors or criteria should they use? If necessary, offer additional, obviously flawed suggestions (e.g., tell Saoussan to be quiet, send her home until she learns to behave) to help students generate criteria for the solution, such as the following:
  • solves the problem
  • is realistic; i.e., students are able to do it
  • respects her feelings.

Ask students to use these criteria to select the best solutions for the remaining problems. Alternatively, suggest a new problem not mentioned in the story (e.g., Saoussan has no books) and invite students to brainstorm possible solutions before selecting the option that best meets the agreed-upon criteria.


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Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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