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Problem Solving

Social Studies Lessons for High School is designed for social studies teachers to use with their government and history courses. It was developed in response to a shift in education throughout our country: a move away from rote memorization and toward the critical thinking skills necessary for many of the new performance assessment programs.

Each lesson will enable teachers to teach seven specific critical thinking skills in a step-by-step process. The information has been adapted for old media and new media formats. Web sites will be provided that will allow teachers to choose the most appropriate resource for the selected activity. All selections can be copied for classroom use. Teachers may adapt activities to allow students to complete assignments via the web.

Bob Black is former Teachers Network web mentor. He is a social studies teacher at the Harbor City Learning Center, located across the street from the historic Edgar Allen Poe House  in Baltimore, MD.

Lesson Plan

Students will utilize principles of economic costs and benefits and opportunity cost to analyze the effectiveness of government policy in achieving socio-economic goals.

Students will evaluate solutions and strategies used to solve problems.

Lesson Objectives 
Students will be able to:

  • Develop possible solutions to a funding problem using the principles of economic costs and benefits. 
  • Evaluate proposed solutions by gathering community feedback.

Write the following statement on the overhead or chalkboard:
After you graduate from __________ High School, will you go to college or enter the job market?
Students should be directed to make a choice. Remind students to look at the positive as well as negative consequences of their choices. Have students write down the factors that influenced their choices.

Lesson Procedures
  1. As a class, discuss the term solution. Remind students that all solutions to problems can be positive or negative. Tell students that positive solutions can be referred to as economic benefits and negative solutions can be referred to as economic costs.

  2. Tell students that both positive and negative solutions to problems have consequences that must be weighed. The weighing of consequences can be referred to as weighing opportunity costs. Have the class define the terms: economic cost/benefit analysis and opportunity cost.

  3. Give students a copy of the Problem Solving Template Sheet and discuss the funding problem with them. Provide students with statistics on local community taxes, businesses, and demographics so that they may research their options. Have them work in small groups on this assignment. Groups should share their responses and all proposed solutions should be listed on the board.

Have students write a Brief Constructed Response explaining which solution to the funding problem is the best one. They should include supporting reasons for their opinion.


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