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Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

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The following activities can be integrated into themes or be used by themselves toward improvement in targeted competencies.



TP 1 Identify problems
TP 2 Generate ideas about the causes of a problem
TP 3 Identify the cause of a problem
TP 4 Identify solutions to the problem
TP 5 Choose appropriate solutions
TP 6 Apply appropriate solutions
TP 7 Evaluate the solutions
TP 8 Modify the solutions needed

The Job-Site activity is a sequenced work-related problem which addresses problem solving competencies TP1-TP8. They may be used as is or adapted for your site.


Objective: Students will be able to identify problems in work-site settings.

1. Students each receive the handouts, The Job-Site and Part 1: The Job Site.

2. Students read the situation in pairs.

3. Students discuss and identify the major problems in pairs. Have them consider the following points:

Who is involved?
What exactly is wrong?
Where is the problem taking place?
When did the problem begin?
What is the pattern of the problem?

4. The main problem is written on the board and discussed as a class.

5. Students create and write out similar work-site problems in pairs.

6. The teacher collects the problems and reads them out-loud to the class.

7. The class isolates the main problems in each case.



Objective: Students will be able to generate ideas about the cause of a problem.

1. Refer to the handout Part 2: The Job-Site.

2. Students think about the problem at the job site. How could the foreman, James, Rosa, and Lamont all be at fault for not meeting the deadline?

3. Students share their answers with the class.



Objective: Students will be able to identify a variety of causes in a workplace problem.

1. Problem solving may be nothing more than the art of asking the right questions at the right time. Questions such as who, what, where, when, why, how, and to what extent cover most problem situations.

2. Students refer to the questions on the worksheet What's the Problem ? while they do the activity for Part 3: The Job-Site. Students try to identify the problem at this work-site by asking a random 10.15 questions on the worksheet.

3. Each group presents its findings to the class.

4. The class compiles a list on the blackboard.

5. Follow-up activity: Students break into pairs and explore a personal problem using the What's the Problem? worksheet.


Objective: Students will be able to create a cause and effect analysis of a problem using a fishbone diagram.

1. Divide students into task groups of three.

2. Explain to students that they will be looking for root causes and appropriate solutions for a workplace problem. Tell students that workplace problems usually occur in one of the following areas:

Materials: (poor quality, not enough)
Process: (poor instructions, lack of communication, no priorities, no schedule)
People: (untrained staff, untrained management, too much socializing)
Machines: (age, in bad condition, scheduling, too complex)

5. Directly teach the fishbone model using The Job Site handout and the Cause and Effect Analysis: Fishbone Diagram worksheet. The teacher elicits all information from the students as the class fills in the diagram on the blackboard.

6. The class decides on the root problems which appear more than once in the diagram, or which contribute to the other problems.

7. Students identify a workplace, class or society problem and complete a new fishbone diagram for it. They discuss possible solutions for this problem.



Objective: Students will be able to identify various solutions to a work-site problem.

1. Students break into pairs.

2. Students look at Part 4: The Job-Site handout.

3. Students discuss the various solutions.

4. Students circle what they consider to be the best solution or create their own.

5. Students share and justify their ideas with the class.



Objective: Students will be able to identify a solution and create an appropriate plan.

1. Students review the solutions presented in Part 4: The Job-Site handout.

2. Students choose the best solution and justify their choice.

3. From this solution, students create an appropriate plan using the Action Plan.

4. Students prepare a role-play with one person representing the management, one representing the foreman, and two representing the carpenters.

5. Each group presents its role-play. The class discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each plan. They suggest improvements for each plan.



Objective: Students will be able to develop assessment tools for the solutions which they create.

1. Students refer to the solution which they created for The Job Site activity.

2. A sample might be:

a) Carpenters will work out a system to share tools.
b) The foreman will communicate more closely with the carpenters.

3. Class or small groups brainstorm criteria for evaluating how well the solution is working.

4. Hand students the worksheet, The Foreman. Do these questions reflect students' criteria? Are there some that are not necessary? Are there some which should be included?

5. Students design a similar assessment tool to see if the system for sharing tools is effective.



Objective: Students will understand driving and restraining forces affecting the implementation of a solution.

1. Explain to students that in any situation, including a problem, there are factors which are pushing for change (driving) and forces which are resisting the change (restraining).

2. Copy the diagram from the Closing the Gap worksheet onto a blackboard or flip chart.

3. Explain that change can be more easily achieved by:

a. reducing some of the restraining forces (buying more tools)
b. changing the direction of the restraining force (developing improved communication)
c. strengthening or adding new driving forces (bonus for finishing job on time)

4. Explain that reducing restraining forces reduces resistance to change.

5. Have students brainstorm the driving forces and the restraining forces of The Job Site problem (see Closing The Gap worksheet sample).

6. After all the forces have been brainstormed, have students rate them by:

5 = very strong
4 = strong
3 = medium
2 = low
1 = weak

7. Identify ways to reduce or eliminate the restraining forces and increase or add driving forces by brainstorming in pairs. Re-emphasize that it is usually better to reduce or eliminate negative forces because this reduces resistance to change while strengthening driving forces often increases resistance to change.

8. After students see what's helping or hindering the solution, have them develop a new strategy for implementing that solution. You may use the worksheet "Part 6: The Job Site."

9. Students can do a follow-up force-field analysis using class or personal problems.



Objective: Students will be able to create, implement and evaluate a plan.

1. In teams or small groups, students do Parts 6 and 7 of The Job Site handout.

2. Students present their plans to the class for review and comment.


TP 1 Identify problems


Objective: Students will understand that identifying a problem is critical to solving it.

1. Discuss with class differences between symptoms, problesm and causes (for example: having a cold is a problem, runny nose and sneezing are symptoms, and a virus is the cause)

2. Break students into groups of three.

3. Distribute the cut-up handout, Driving Is Such A Hassle.

4. Each student reads the statement out-loud to the group.

5. The students as a group decide if the statement is a symptom, problem, or cause. Sometimes statements will be both or all three. They put the cut-up strips in corresponding piles as they decide. Each group reflects on what criteria made the statement a symptom, problem, or cause.

6. Students discuss follow-up questions with the class.

7. The teacher writes out all statements from Driving is Such a Hassle on the board and the class as a whole discusses which are symptoms, problems or causes.


TP 2 Generate ideas about the causes of a problem


Objective: Students will understand the process of brainstorming.

1. Students as a class create a definition of brainstorming.

2. Students discuss the benefits of brainstorming.

3. Students review the procedures using the worksheet, Brainstorming, and complete the Brainstorming Warm-up exercise.

4. Students choose one of the follow-up exercises and brainstorm responses to these issues.

5. Students are handed the Brainstorming Assessment worksheet. They fill them out and discuss their results as a class.


TP 3 Identify the cause of a problem

TP 4 Identify solutions to the problem


Objective: Students will learn to question as a means of finding the cause of a problem.

1. Students discuss why questioning is valuable and why we are sometimes discouraged from asking questions in different situations. For example, they might discuss why young people may be discouraged from asking questions.

2. Students are handed the worksheet, Learning to Question.

3. In pairs or small groups they generate 6 questions which both employees and management should be asking about the three situations.

4. Each group presents their set of questions for one situation.

5. The class as a whole may contribute additional questions.

6. Students generate their own scenarios.

7. Students trade scenarios and generate questions for each others' groups.



Objective: Students learn to identify the cause of a problem through a questioning technique.

1. Students get into pairs and read the The Why Game worksheet.

2. One student states a problem that he/she is having.

3. The other student responds by answering "Why?"

4. The process continues until the cause is discovered or the conversation ends naturally.

5. The class discusses how the questionning process worked for each pair and reflects on the information which was generated through it. Then they identify underlying issues which are causing this person's problem.


TP 5 Choose appropriate solutions

TP 6 Apply appropriate solutions


Objective: Students will identify a possible cause and workable solution for a personal reaction to an irritating situation.

1. The following is a process you can go through in a workplace when a co-worker or something on the work-site is bothering you. Students are given the It Really Bothers Me When worksheet.

2. Students take 5 minutes to write out as many issues as possible that concern them about other people or situations.

3. Students share their concerns with their group.

4. Students choose one or two concerns which they have in common.

5. Students generate as many causes as they can for this irritation.

6. Students discuss how they usually react when they encounter this situation.

7. They brainstorm new ways they might try to react when this situation occurs.

8. They choose the best solution which they might try out when the situation arises again.


TP 7 Evaluate the solutions

TP 8 Modify the solutions needed


Objective: Students will be able to determine priority causes which should be addressed first.

1. Students are handed the Too Many Rooms worksheet.

2. The scenario is read out-loud by the class.

3. The teacher explains that the Pareto Chart helps people identify what is really happening on a work site. She/he then demonstrates using it. It can be used by employees to inform supervisors about the reality of the work situation through the process of gathering and visually analyzing information.

4. The teacher explains that in this exercise the employees have already met and brainstormed the main causes for the problem. The class reviews the main causes.

5. The teacher then shows how to create a survey for the job site by using the sample. The teacher also explains how to transfer this information onto a Pareto Chart. The chart is handed out to the students.

6. Students get together in groups and imagine that they work at one of the following sites (or they may use their classroom as the setting).

department store
janitorial service
hardware store
television station
your choice

7. Together they brainstorm a new problem, find root causes and then create a survey for the job site.

8. Members in the group present the problem, the causes, the memo and the follow-up chart to the class. They make up numbers for the survey and use those to make the chart.



Objective: Students will be able to choose appropriate solutions and create plans for a variety of situations.

1. Distribute the worksheet What Would You Do In These Situations?

2. Break into groups of three.

3. Each group chooses a person to read and a person to write.

4. Have one person read the situation out-loud.

5. Brainstorm possible problems and come to agreement on the main problem.

6. Groups identify potential solutions. They discuss the plusses and negatives of each solution. The best solution is selected.

7. Each group creates an action plan for the person with the problem in the situation.

8. Have each small group choose one situation and role-play their analysis and solution in front of the class.



Objective: To teach students the skill of consensus in finding new solutions.

1. Tell students that the class will be able to have 3 guest speakers this quarter.

2. Tell them that they, not you, will decide on appropriate speakers for the class.

3. Brainstorm a number of options until you have collected a fairly long list. Remind students that anything is possible.

4. Open it up for discussion. Have students give pros and cons of all ideas. They can ask each other questions regarding the suggestions which some students know more about than others.

5. Pass out the Consensus Guidelines worksheet. Read it with the class. Explain that there is no need to reach an immediate decision, but that the discussion can be on-going until everyone is satisfied or can live with the group decision.

6. Students discuss possibilities until 3.7 strong ideas emerge.

7. Divide the students into groups of as many ideas that emerge.

8. Have each group research each possibility. They can make phone calls, write letters,

talk about the benefits of the information that this person has, etc.

9. In a follow-up class, each group presents its information, not pushing ideas, but providing necessary facts. Review Consensus Guidelines worksheet. List pros and cons. Work toward a consensus.

10. Facilitate a follow-up discussion assessing the process of reaching consensus.





Objective: Students will analyze, compare, draw conclusions and evaluate a personal process.

1. Explain that you will be investigating process in the next few days.

2. Have students define and brainstorm different examples of processes.

3. Hand out the worksheet, Unexpected Visitors.

4. Have students read the situation.

5. Have students write out sentences or a paragraph about how they would deal with the problem.

6. Students make a list of the steps in the order they would happen.

7. Students break into pairs and share their plans and their list with a partner. Have them consider how their plans were similar and dissimilar.

8. Hand out the Compare and Contrast Flowchart. Work with them to fit their information into the flowcharts.

9. Ask students to return to their partners with their Compare and Contrast Flowcharts. Have students discuss how they chose to deal with the problem.

10. Have students look at the two plans and decide which one seemed most effective. Could the plans be combined or changed? If so, have students create a new list of steps in pairs.



Objective: Students will learn how to problem solve using a variety of quality tools.

1. Teacher will lead students in a discussion to brainstorm some quality issues in their immediate life which they would like to resolve. The class will select an issue that they have the ability to influence.

2. Students will identify who the customers (or recipients) of this product or service are and who the providers are.

3. Students will discuss how the lack of quality impacts the customer.

4. Students will use the worksheet, The Affinity Diagram, to individually list contributing problems causing this issue to occur. They will record their individual ideas on post-it sheets, one idea to a sheet, and then visually group them into similar categories of problems. They will name these categories.

5. Students will write these ideas on a flip chart sheet and clarify any ideas that are confusing.

6. Students will use the worksheet, Multi-voting, to select their highest priority problem for resolution.

7. Once a decision is made, students will discuss and visually describe the steps in the flow of activities (process) which lead from beginning to completing the work that produces this result. They will use the worksheets, Process Flow Charts - Some Common Symbols and Process Flow Chart to understand how to graphically present their analysis.

8. They will identify the probable source of the problem and use the worksheet, The Cause and Effect Diagram (fishbone diagram), to locate the cause(s) for this problem.

9. Students will use the worksheet, The Pareto Chart, to identify the types of information they want to collect to verify that these are indeed the causes of the problem.

10. Students will collect information and make their own pareto chart. They will use this data to verify the causes of the problem.

11. Students will write a clear problem statement which identifies the problem and its cause(s).

12. Students will examine alternative solutions for the problem and select the best one using some pre-set criteria.

13. Students will develop an action plan to implement this solution and to monitor its effectiveness.

14. Students will discuss how they can evaluate this situation and determine if the solution is effective or if they need to select another solution for implementation.

15. Students will reflect on the lessons they learned using this quality improvement process and how they worked together as a quality team to improve quality for a designated customer or service recipient.

16. Students will discuss and agree on how to improve their work together for future problem solving.



Objective: Students will analyze components of a procedure.

1. Hand out the Lou's Dilemma worksheet.

2. Break students into groups of three.

3. Have one student in each group read aloud the staff policy in the employee manual.

4. Have students take turns reading aloud each situation and give advice with rationale for your suggestions.

5. Compile each group's suggestions for handling these situations on the board. Note the similarities and differences of opinion.

6. As a class, decide if this is the place for Lou to work.

7. Students can write about a time when they or someone they know broke a policy and what the consequences were.




TC 1 Generate new solutions to common conditions or problems

TC 2 Organize and process diverse kinds of information in meaningful ways


Objective: Students will find patterns, meanings, and values within a process in order to create new solutions.

1. Individually, students make notes on significant events, milestones, highlights or activities which they recall during each decade. The instructor puts up large sheets of paper on the wall. Each sheet is titled with a different decade. When students are ready they take magic markers and transfer the memories onto appropriate sheets of paper which are hanging on the wall. The instructor replicates the worksheet onto larger pieces of paper around the room.

2. The information is discussed.

3. Students are grouped into teams of four or five.

4. Each team analyzes one theme: myself, school/company/town, or society. They look for emerging patterns, meaning or values. For example, it seems like society was socially aware in the sixties.

5. Groups as a whole interpret the good and bad trends as well as underlying assumptions for each decade. For example, people in the 80's seemed to believe that...

6. Each group can take the four decades of one theme and compare and contrast the changes.



Objective: Students will be able to compare agendas in different time frames.

1. Students are broken into groups of three.

2. Students read about the the Council Meeting in the Past and Future Search handout.

3. Students brainstorm the Council's likely suggestions.

4. Each group elects a spokesperson who shares their group's proposals.

5. The class writes down the proposals and creates a new list.

6. The class reads the Council's goals and students mark how many of their ideas were the same.

7. Students add any new suggestions and look at the new list.

8. Students create a STEPS Chart and compare probable outcomes.

9. Students compare assumptions for the two lists.

10. Students suggest programs and activities which could be implemented into the community.



Objective: Students will be able to make predictions about a process.

1. This is a follow-up activity to The Past and Future Search.

2. The teacher adds three or four pieces of paper to the wall.

3. Students write the date for 35 years in the future.

4. The teacher hands out lots of magic markers, crayons, magazines etc.

5. Each group takes about 30 minutes to create and post symbols and trends that will most likely happen in the future that they would like to see. They can also include trends which they would not like to see but which are likely given present events.

6. It is a good idea to play background music with a beat during this portion of the exercise.

7. After the session, students look at what they have created. They analyze and summarize the trends which have emerged.



Objective: Students will be able to recognize the inter-relatedness of factors, policy and outcomes.

1. Students refer to the Crime in the Community worksheet.

2. Students break into pairs and decide the sentences which are factors, policy or outcomes. The teacher may have to lead a discussion in order to define vocabulary.

3. The class discusses why it is difficult to tell a factor from an outcome or policy.

4. Students put the sentences into an order which might properly sequence them.

5. Students discuss how these sentences reflect a situation. They add in policy or factors that could change the outcomes. They organize the policy and factors into a STEPS Chart format.



Objective: Students will be able to identify their preferred problem solving style.

1. The teacher asks students to reflect on how they solve problems.

2. The teacher distributes the worksheet, What's Your Problem Solving Style? She/he reads the instructions and students fill out the questions. They score their responses and identify their style.

3. The teacher discusses the differences between the idealist, the realist, and the activist. Students are asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each style.



Objective: Students will be able to solve problems by considering different points of view.

1. Students are handed the Viewpoints worksheet.

2. Students break into groups of three and discuss the different scenarios. They are asked to really look at the emotions and point of view of the different people involved.

3. Students can generate their own situations and exchange them with different groups.



Objective: Students will be able to sort out appropriate steps.

1. Students are handed the Sequencing worksheet.

2. Students are broken into groups of three.

3. Students decide on three or four things that they would like to achieve.

4. Students brainstorm appropriate steps to achieving these results. Encourage them to be as complete as possible.

5. Each group shares one of their situations with the class.



Objective: Students will be able to recognize the importance of developing criteria when solving problems.

1. Students are handed the worksheet, Developing Criteria.

2. The teacher uses the example of a song for establishing criteria to judge the a value of a product. The teacher brings in samples of three songs of similar style. Students use criteria to judge the records.

3. Students break into small groups and develop criteria for potato chips or something similar.

4. Three types of potato chips are brought in and judged according to criteria.

5. Students create criteria for the other items on the worksheet.

6. Students share their criteria with rest of class.

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