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Tasks of Problem Solving Adolescent
Ages: 12-17   Grades: 7-12

Based on the research of Richard Paul, Art Costa, Jean Piaget, and Benjamin Bloom, these lessons help adolescents use deeper thinking to make personal decisions and think about the future.   


  • Use language to express reasoning
  • Identify problems, determine causes, infer, and justify opinions


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This book is a compendium of language-based thinking skills.  Each unit works on a specific skill and incorporates other thinking skills as well.  Instruction guidelines and skill-specific vocabulary lessons are in each unit.  The activities are a therapy companion to the Test of Problem Solving 2 Adolescent (TOPS 2). 

 The units are:

Sequencing—Organize objects and ideas quickly and logically.

Asking and Answering Questions—Ask the right questions to gather relevant information.  Answer questions appropriately by giving relevant information in the right amount and staying on topic.

Comparing and Contrasting—Gain deeper understanding for problem-solving by thinking about similarities and differences.

Identifying Problems—Use clear, specific language to state the problem.

Detecting Key Information—Improve efficiency in problem solving by identifying the critical information.

Making Inferences—Students think about what they know from past experiences and personal knowledge to form an inference.

Expressing Consequences—Determine logical consequences and express them effectively.

Determining Solutions—Paraphrase the problem and list possible solutions.

Justifying Opinions—Express opinions and explain or justify them to others.

Interpreting Perspectives—Understand key factors in evaluating others' perspectives.

Transferring Insights—Apply knowledge to new situations by asking oneself thoughtful questions.

Integrating Thinking Skills—Twenty five realistic situations with a photo and a brief description of the situation.  Students use their past experience, logic, and general knowledge to answer thought-provoking questions.

Extra helps include: 

  • glossary of vocabulary for problem solving
  • outline of Richard Paul's higher-order thinking skills
  • Art Costa's sixteen attributes of Habits of Mind
  • overview of Jean Piaget's Concrete and Formal Operational Stages of Development

Copyright © 2007


180 pages, answer key, glossary
  • According to the Adolescent Medicine (2006), some common signs indicating a progression from more simple to more complex cognitive development include:
    • Early adolescence
      During early adolescence, the use of more complex thinking is focused on personal decision making in school and home environments (e.g., begins to demonstrate use of formal logical operations in schoolwork).
    • Middle adolescence
      Expands to include more philosophical and futuristic concerns (e.g., questions and analyzes more extensively).
    • Late adolescence
      Complex thinking processes are used to focus on less self-centered concepts as well as personal decision making (e.g., had increased thoughts about more global concepts such as justice, history, politics, and patriotism).
  • Jean Piaget talks about "developmental stages" and times when children are acquiring new ways of mentally representing information.  In the final stage of cognitive development, called the formal operational state (age 12 years to adulthood), children begin to develop a more theoretical view of the world.  Thoughts become more abstract, incorporating the principles of formal logic.  This stage is achieved by most children, although failure to do so has been associated with lower intelligence.
  • According to the school Improvement Research Series (2006), teaching students to become critical thinkers is an essential education goal.
    • Direct teaching of critical thinking enhances students' critical thinking skills and application.
    • Students have the ability to improve their thinking skills if they are taught how to think critically.
  • Tasks of Problem Solving Adolescent incorporates the above principles and is also based on expert professional practice.  


    Piaget, J. (1977). Studies in reflecting abstraction (Robert L. Campbell, Ed. & Trans.). London: Psychology Press. (Original work published 1977).


Linda Bowers, Rosemary Huisingh, and Carolyn LoGuidice


Linda Bowers, M.A., SLP, is a co-founder and co-owner of LinguiSystems.  She is a speech-language pathologist with wide experience serving language-disordered students of all ages.  Linda has a keen professional interest in the critical thinking and language abilities of children and adults.

Rosemary Huisingh, M.A., SLP, is also a co-founder and co-owner of LinguiSystems.  As a speech-language pathologist, she has successfully served the communication needs of school-aged children for many years.  Rosemary is particularly interested in childhood language, vocabulary, and thinking skills.

Carolyn LoGiudice, M.A., CCC-SLP, wrote and edited products and tests for LinguiSystems for 25 years, incorporating her previous experience as an SLP in school and clinic settings.  She is now retired and savoring time with her family, friends, and hobbies.  

Linda, Rosemary, and Carolyn are the authors of the Test Of Problem Solving 2 Adolescent.  They are also co-authors of the following:

  • The Listening Comprehension Test 2
  • The WORD Test 2 Elementary
  • The WORD Test 2 Adolescent
  • Story Comprehension To Go
  • Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension
  • No-Glamour Language & Reasoning
  • No-Glamour Language & Reasoning Cards
  • No-Glamour Language & Reasoning Interactive Software


A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.  Martin Fischer, scientist

We love this quote because it reminds us of who we used to be as thinkers.  We'd say things like "I'm so tired of thinking, my brain hurts" or "Wake me up when the thinking part is over."  Fortunately, it's been years since we awakened and smelled the delicious aroma of freshly-brewed thinking . . . aggressive, pungent and strong with a confusing mix of other unidentified sensations.

For nearly 30 years we've been entrenched in the research on thinking, cognition, and problem solving, and we're still as enthusiastic as ever about making every therapy session and every classroom a hotbed of teaching thinking.  One of our grandchildren recently completed kindergarten with a teacher so amazing in her ability to draw out students' thoughts that this author just had to spend time in her classroom.  To this author's surprise, this gifted teacher was using higher-order questioning, meant for children much older, with most of the students.  If a student made the observation that a caterpillar should be able to walk more quickly because of all of its legs, she asked, "Why do you think so?" or "What do you see about its body that might give you a clue that it can't?"  Obviously this teacher never felt restricted by the language or vocabulary that she used and never underestimated how youngsters could think.  Even the lowestfunctioning student in that kindergarten class could answer questions above the third level of Bloom's Taxonomy, Application.

Tasks Of Problem Solving Adolescent is a rich compendium of situations in which adolescents find themselves.  Each unit works on a specific skill and incorporates other thinking skills as well.  These are the units:

  • Sequencing                                           
  • Expressing Consequences
  • Asking and Answering Questions        
  • Determining Solutions
  • Comparing and Contrasting                
  • Justifying Opinions
  • Identifying Problems                            
  • Interpreting Perspectives
  • Detecting Key Information                    
  • Transferring Insights
  • Making Inferences                                 
  • Integrating
  • Thinking Skills

Within these units, you'll see the other skills embedded in associated tasks.

Tasks Of Problem Solving Adolescent will allow you to focus on your students as whole or complete language users because teaching language in the context of higher-order thinking treats youth as thinking, caring people.  The therapy you provide with this manual will help your students develop language that adequately reflects their improved thinking skills.

We appreciate all you do,

Linda, Rosemary and Carolyn