Students (and the rest of us) will encounter challenges and problems throughout our lives. Some of those will be challenges that we overcome in order to learn, grow or reach a new goal — a math problem or a fitness challenge, for example. Some of the challenges come through the everyday ups and downs of life — a rejection, an injury or a loss. Both can stop us in our tracks. Or they can be crucibles in which we learn and grow. What can we do to help students get better at solving problems they encounter? Psychologists and neuroscientists have identified six keys to unlocking problem-solving potential that can help students both in and beyond the classroom:

• Know yourself
• Manage thoughts and feelings
• Break it down
• Think out loud
• Ask others for their opinions
• Encourage yourself

These strategies tap into extensive research on higher-order thinking (which includes executive function and metacognition). Rather than being set in stone, these abilities can be developed through a combination of teaching about how we think and practicing strategies to boost higher-order thinking. This Renaissance Kit offers ways to work on both of these approaches. We hope they help your students become more self-reliant and strategic in solving problems they face.

— Kent Pekel, Ed.D.
President and CEO, Search Institute

 The preceding text is an adaptation of research done by the Search Institute and an excerpt from the February Renaissance Kit: Turning Problems into Possibilities.

This year, Jostens is partnering with Search Institute, an organization dedicated to researching and understanding what kids need in order to succeed. Over the past 25 years, Search Institute has studied the strengths and challenges in the lives of more than five million middle and high school youth across the country and around the world. Like Jostens Renaissance, Search Institute focuses on young people’s strengths, rather than emphasizing their problems or deficiencies. Visit Search-Institute.org to learn more.

Below you will find the Turning Problems into Possibilities guide. Click the image to download a PDF with class activities, statistics and research around problem solving.

February Renaissance Kit - Turning Problems into Possiblities_Page_1

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