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No-Glamour® Problem Solving
Ages: 6-11   Grades: 1-6

Students learn the processes of effective problem solving with this research-based resource.  Systematic instruction gives struggling learners a framework for problem solving and helps them generalize their learning for lifelong results.


  • Solve problems independently and effectively
  • Develop flexible thinking
  • Evaluate problem solving and learn from experience
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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

The units and tasks within the units are arranged in increasing complexity.  Specific targeted skills are:
•  identifying and stating problems
•  identifying causes and solutions
•  predicting results of solutions
•  choosing good solutions
•  evaluating problem solving
•  giving suggestions and advice
•  solving problems

Age-appropriate problem-solving scenario(s) are presented with a short story and a picture.  Students hone their skills in specific problem-solving strategies by answering multiple choice questions, evaluating solutions, explaining their answers, ranking choices, and making predictions.  Learners with language and cognitive impairments learn workable, step-by-step problem-solving methods.

Copyright © 2009

244 pages, answer key
  • Developing reasoning skills encourages critical thinking and meta-awareness of internal thought processes.  Reasoning skills support students' logical judgments based on conscious reflection and sensitivity to multiple viewpoints (Little, 2002). 
  • Reasoning and critical thinking are necessary skills for competence across the curriculum.  They require students to examine, relate, and analyze all aspects of a problem or situation.  Students engaged in critical thinking must make associations that connect problems with their prior knowledge (Pellegrini, 1995). 
  • Questioning is the core of critical reflection.  It prompts students to engage in a research process that fosters higher-order thinking skills and social-moral attitudes (Daniel et al., 2005).  Using specific, metacognitive vocabulary while questioning and prompting students to solve problems encourages them to examine their thinking skills and strategies (Costa & Kallick, 2008). 
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking (Borné, Cox, Hartgering, & Pratt, 2005). 
  • Social cognitive intervention can improve the social functioning of students with Asperger's or high-functioning autism.  Training tasks can include interpreting verbal/nonverbal actions or intentions, understanding social reciprocity, and adjusting verbal/nonverbal behavior according to social cues (Crooke, Hendrix, & Rachman, 2007). 
  • Students need extensive practice in solving problems independently in order to develop critical thinking (Paul, 1990).

No-Glamour Problem Solving incorporates these principles and is based on expert professional practice.


Borné, L., Cox, J., Hartgering, M., & Pratt, E. (2005). Making inferences from text [Overview]. Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation. Costa, L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Crooke, P.J., Hendrix, R.E., & Rachman, J.Y. (2007). Teaching social thinking to children with ASD: An effectiveness study. Presentation at the ASHA Convention, November.

Daniel, M.F., Lafortune, L., Pallascio, R., Splitter, L., Slade, C., & de la Garza, T. (2005). Modeling the development process of dialogical critical thinking in pupils aged 10 to 12 years. Communication Education, 54(4), 334-354. Little, C. (2002). Reasoning as a key component of language arts curricula. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(2), 52-59.

Paul, R. (1990). Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world. Rohnert Park, CA: Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique.

Pellegrini, J. (1995). Developing thinking and reasoning skills in primary learners using detective fiction. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 1. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from




LinguiSystems employees carefully crafted No-Glamour Problem Solving as a team.  Most are experienced SLPs and all have collaborated previously to write high-quality, practical LinguiSystems materials.  We wish you the best outcomes possible with your students!



Good problem-solvers appear to give little thought to the strategies they use to approach the challenges in their lives.  They not only intuitively identify a problem, they immediately take steps to either solve or repair the situation.  Good problem-solvers are persistent and reflective.  They apply flexible thinking in every phase of solving a problem.  They also learn from experience as well as from others' experiences.

Although some students become good problem-solvers with few direct instructions, others need hands-on teaching and guided practice to develop and utilize effective problem-solving skills.  Many students with special needs lack the strategic skills necessary to solve even the smallest problems. Impulsivity, frustration, and emotional outbursts often take the place of a thoughtful, habitual approach to dealing with obstacles of daily life.  No-Glamour Problem Solving provides a skill-based approach to strengthening the strategic muscles necessary for approaching problems your students face every day.

Richard Paul suggests that "extensive practice in independent problem-solving is essential to developing critical thought" (Paul, 565).  Using problems from your students' own lives is ideal to help them begin to think strategically, but real-world situations may not be numerous enough to provide the kind of deep, repetitive practice Paul advocates.  No-Glamour Problem Solving provides hundreds of ready-to-use situations that reflect common problems in students' everyday lives.  Some of the problems may seem trivial and some may lead to dire outcomes, but the problems presented in this book represent the variety of challenges students face.

Metacognition plays a vital part in successfully approaching problems.  Knowing the words we use to identify and analyze strategic steps of problem-solving will move your students toward looking at problems strategically rather than impulsively.  Apply the language of problem-solving and critical thinking as you work through these pages with your students.  Use questioning and prompting to introduce vocabulary that will encourage metacognitive examination (Costa & Kallick, 146):

  • What will be the consequences of not solving this problem?
  • What can you assume about this problem?
  • Why did you draw that conclusion?
  • What other problem can you compare this one to?
  • What alternative solutions would you suggest?
  • Can you predict what will happen if you try that solution?

The units and the tasks within the units of No-Glamour Problem Solving are arranged in increasing complexity.  Use your clinical judgment to determine where to begin instruction.  To check the amount of support you may need to provide for a student to learn from the tasks, try a dynamic assessment.

  1. Present the task "as is," providing no cues or support beyond reading the text and stimuli if the student can't read them independently.  If the student handles the task fairly well, present a more difficult task in the same way.
  2. If the student has trouble with the task, provide additional cues to ensure the student understands the text and stimuli.  Explain any unfamiliar vocabulary or specific language.  Try to determine what stumbling blocks prevent performing the task easily.  If the student responds better with your additional support, begin similar tasks and provide any extra support needed.  Gradually decrease your support as the student grasps the task and performs more independently.
  3. If the student needs your help for the majority of the items on a task, try to ascertain why.
      • Is the vocabulary unfamiliar?  If so, can the student complete the task if you explain the vocabulary and/or paraphrase the text?
      • Does the student lack general experience in this context?  Does the student make appropriate inferences when all of the information about a situation isn't presented concretely?
      • Can the student paraphrase or explain the text independently?
    Use this type of analysis to guide your choice of goals and objectives appropriately.  It may help some students if you verbalize your thoughts as you demonstrate how to do a task.  Avoid overusing this strategy, though, because it can quickly become "overkill" or patronizing for students.

The answer key in the back of this book lists suggested answers for the tasks.  Appropriate responses may vary, though, so encourage your students to explain the rationale for their answers.  Such explanations offer great practice in oral reasoning skills.

We hope the wealth of problem-solving practice in No-Glamour Problem Solving will be another valuable tool in your kit of resources you use to help your students become better thinkers and solve problems independently and effectively.


Costa, L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Paul, R. (1990). Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world. Rohnert Park, CA: Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique.