problem solving cue card

Cue Cards: Hints to Help Your Students Succeed

Since the latest reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), Response to Intervention (RtI) has been widely implemented to identify and support students with learning and behavioral needs (Wisniewski, 2014).  More than 40 states have adopted and successfully applied some form of a three-tiered prevention by integrating both RtI and schoolwide positive behavioral supports (SWPBS) models (Kaloi, n.d.; Sugai &; Horner, 2009). Use of the systematic screening, research-based interventions, ongoing decision-making, and progress monitoring involved in these models have broad implications for closing both the opportunity and achievement gap for students with academic and behavioral challenges (Benner, Kutash, Nelson, & Fisher, 2013).  Moreover, SWPBS’s framework of overarching social expectations (e.g., respect, responsibility, and productivity), when translated into concrete behavioral terminology, including classroom procedures for task completion, provides opportunities for teachers to identify and explicitly teach prerequisite skills students need to perform learning tasks.

Hint #1: How do I know what prerequisite skills to teach?

The essential knowledge, skills, and processes outlined in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) Curriculum Framework identify the behaviors necessary for students to access and use academic content.  For example, to be able to solve problems that involve adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators, students must be taught how to use problem solving, how to make connections, and how to create representations (Virginia Department of Education [VDOE], 2009). Students with learning and behavioral difficulties often experience weaknesses in metacognitive processes and self-regulation behaviors necessary to perform mathematical and other complex academic tasks. As a result, they frequently struggle with process skills such as:

  • Organizing and prioritizing tasks
  • Completing tasks on time
  • Connecting previous learning with new learning
  • Reflecting on and critically thinking about work and learning (National Center for Learning Disabilities, n.d.; Willis, 2014).

However, by directly teaching metacognitive strategies, educators can help students acquire the prerequisite skills that facilitate academic learning.  For example, in the above standard, students could be taught a strategy to organize and remember the steps to compute addition of unlike denominators or set and meet goals for work completion (Conderman & Hedin, 2011).

Hint #2: What strategy would assist students in learning these skills?

One strategy that helps students organize and prioritize cognitive processes is the use of cue cards.  These visual representations describe procedures and processes in a step-by-step format or graphic organizer.  Cue cards can be used for any content area, including behavior, and can be created by teachers as well as students.  When teachers carefully consider the problem or procedure, analyze the steps involved, and select a clear, efficient representation of those steps, students are more likely to learn the concept or skill (Conderman & Hedin, 2011).  For example, the cue card in Figure 1 was developed to “cue” students to the steps for how to solve problems involving addition of fractions with unlike denominators.

To develop the cue card, the teacher first selected the sequence of steps required to solve addition of unlike denominators and then listed them in the order her students were to perform them. Vocabulary and illustrations were matched to the students’ skill levels.  The teacher simplified the steps to fewer than seven and created a mnemonic to capture her students’ interest (Conderman & Hedin, 2011).   Multiple pocket-size copies of the cue cards were made from card stock, folded in tent format, and tacked on the bulletin board.  When students used the cue card, they placed a dot on the outside flap of the card.  The teacher could then quickly assess how often students relied upon the hint and reteach the steps if necessary.

Hint #3: How do I help students learn and practice these skills?

Explicit, step-by-step instruction that integrates social and academic learning is the most efficient and effective way of teaching students how to use cue cards to approach academic tasks such as problem solving or work completion.  Examples and non-examples help to clarify when the strategy on the card can be used.  After multiple teacher-provided examples and clear explanations, students and teachers brainstorm other problems for which the cue card might be used, and then discuss how and why the process applies or does not apply.  Teachers must offer multiple opportunities for students to practice using the cue card and talking through the steps they are following, giving them immediate feedback to reinforce correct applications and to correct misconceptions. Then students practice using the cue card and applying the strategy with peers, in small groups or pairs, before expecting them to use the card and strategy independently. Actively engaging students in their learning and providing frequent feedback increases perseverance, time on task, and heightened interest and enthusiasm (Miller, 2014).

Cue cards may also be used to help develop behavioral and social skills. Figure 2 illustrates a strategy that helps students learn and apply behaviors that lead to task completion, reflect on how they used the strategy, self-monitor progress in work completion, and then earn points toward a goal.

Educators help to ensure academic and behavioral success by identifying the support skills and processes students need to know, understand, and be able to do to learn the content they teach.  Explicitly teaching step-by-step procedures for approaching and completing learning tasks improves students’ engagement, responsibility for their own learning, and ultimately success. Cue cards provide them important hints to help them learn and remember processes critical to learning and school success.

Metacognitive Strategies:

  • Grosser, D. (2014).  Learning how to learn: A critical component of student success. Williamsburg, VA: Link Lines.
  • Putting Metacognition into Practice

Universal Design for Learning:

  • Universal Design for Learning Checkpoints
  • Brain-Based Learning
  • Strategies that Promote Executive Functioning
  • Strategies that Promote Student Engagement

Teaching Channel:

  • Formative Assessment and the Back-Up Plan
  • Growth Mindset – Fostering Persistence

Benner, G., Kutash, K., Nelson, J., & Fisher, M. (2013). Closing the achievement gap of youth with emotional and behavioral disorders through multi-tiered systems of support.  Education and Treatment of Children , 36, 15-29.  doi: 10.1353/etc.2013.0018

Conderman, G., & Hedin, L. (2011). Cue cards: A self-regulatory strategy for students with learning disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic , 46, 165-173. doi: 10.1177/1053451210378745

Kaloi, L. (n.d.). Multi-tier systems of support: aka Response to Intervention (RTI) . Washington, DC: National Center for Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from

Miller, K. (2014). What the research says: What student engagement is, why it matters, and how we can influence it.  Changing Schools , 74, 3-4.

National Center for Learning Disabilities. (n.d.).  What is executive function ?  Washington, DC: Author.  Retrieved from

Rademacher, J. A., Pemberton, J. G., & Cheever, G. L. (2006). Focusing together: Promoting self-management skills in the classroom . Lawrence, KS: Edge Enterprises.

Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2009). Responsiveness-to-intervention and school-wide positive behavior supports: Integration of multi-tiered system approaches. Exceptionality , 17, 223-237.

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), (2009). Mathematics standards of learning curriculum framework . 18. Richmond, VA: Author. Retrieved from

Willis, J. (2014). Three brain-based teaching strategies to build executive function in students.   Edutopia . Retrieved from

Wisniewski, R. (2014). Systematizing student engagement through a multi-tiered system of supports. Changing Schools , 74, 7-9.

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Implementing Effective Practices to Support Young Children’s Social Emotional, Language, and Early Literacy Development

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3.9 Specifically teach the steps to solving problems in a variety of ways including engaging children to generate solutions to common classroom challenges.

  • Use role play as a strategy to help children engage in learning how to generate solutions to common problems they encounter in the classroom. See these Problem Solving Role Play Cards for examples. Use: " 'I have a problem' role play cards "
  • Specifically teach steps to finding a solution. Consider using the “Problem Solving Boy” to explain the problem solving process. See this link for materials. See this link to see a teacher using the strategy in the classroom. Use: " Problem solving boy " Watch: " Using the problem solving boy "
  • Support children through the process of finding an appropriate solution to identified problems. Watch as this teacher helps a child select several solutions before finding one that works. Watch: " Using the solution kit "

Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF)

Includes Chinese and Spanish translations!

Cut on black lines to create 4″ x 4″ cue cards

Download: Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF)

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Classroom Visuals & Supports

The Head Start Center for Inclusion offers a library of visual supports for teachers to use with children in the classroom. Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use.

How to Use the Documents

Pictures can increase a child’s understanding and engagement in the classroom. Visual supports can be especially helpful for children with special needs by giving them another way to communicate, instead of relying on verbal communication.

Select the links below to open a list of pictures for Activities, Block Building Ideas, etc. Download and print out the pictures as you would any Word document, in color or black and white.

Tips for Using the Pictures

  • Cut out and laminate for durability
  • Punch a hole in the corner and keep together on a metal ring for portability
  • Put a strip of hook-and-loop tape on the back and keep organized in a binder or folder  
  • Block Building Ideas
  • Build Social Skills
  • Circle Time
  • Classroom Art Materials *
  • Classroom Expectations
  • Classroom Jobs
  • Classroom Materials
  • Classroom Toys and Games
  • Classroom Transitions and Routines *
  • Daily Schedule *
  • Dragon Brain *
  • Emotional Regulation *
  • Friendship Kit *
  • Learning Centers
  • Meal Talk *
  • Paper Dolls to Teach Feelings *
  • Preschool Songs
  • Problem Solving *
  • Voice Volume Charts

* Documents with an asterisk after the title contain special directions for use.

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4 Conflict Resolution Worksheets for Your Practice

Conflict Resolution Worksheets

As a therapist, counselor, or coach, your main job is to help clients identify the situations that are troubling them – the conflicts in their lives – and guide them through to win–win solutions.

Mutually satisfying outcomes can prevent anger, anxiety, and depression, and enable individuals, couples, and families to live together productively and in peace (Christensen & Heavey, 1999; Cummings, Koss, & Davies, 2015).

In this article, we’ll share some powerful conflict resolution worksheets that can teach parties the pathways to win–win outcomes, converting conflict into shared problem solving. Participants feel like they are sitting on the same side of the table, working together against the problem, instead of against each other.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Communication Exercises (PDF) for free . These science-based tools will help you and those you work with build better social skills and better connect with others.

This Article Contains:

2 useful conflict resolution worksheets, 4 tools for resolving conflicts at work, worksheets for student conflicts, 2 best worksheets for couples’ conflicts, teaching conflict resolution: 4 lesson plans, 5 toolkit resources, a take-home message.

Conflict – problems, issues, troubles, dilemmas, tough decisions, etc. – generally emerge in one or more of the following three areas (adapted from Kellermann, 1996):

  • Intrapsychic conflicts – pulls and tugs within a person’s array of feelings, desires, thoughts, fears, and actions
  • Interpersonal or intergroup conflicts – situations in which two or more preferred action plans seem to be incompatible
  • Situational conflicts – situations in which adverse circumstances such as illness, financial difficulties, or other factors collide with each other or with what participants want

Differences can quickly spark arguments when parties believe that the outcome will result in either winning or losing. That is why the word “conflict” usually suggests fighting. These worksheets, by contrast, teach pathways to win–win outcomes.

By guiding both conflict resolution and cooperative problem solving in the same process, solution building for any decision, issue, or dilemma becomes a combined effort. The idea of winning versus losing is removed, and a win–win outcome negates previous conflicts.

Win–Win Waltz Worksheet

The process that leads to win–win outcomes is referred to as the win–win waltz because the process involves three essential steps.

The Win–Win Waltz Worksheet explains the key terms, core concepts, and essential ingredients for using the exercise successfully.

1. Knowing when to use the win–win waltz

The win–win waltz guides the way to cooperative solution building in situations when there seems to be conflict with underlying or overt tension and a feeling that two sides feel in opposition.

Also, the win–win waltz guides the process in any situation that calls for problem solving.

In both instances, the tone needs to stay calm and cooperative. There needs to be an awareness of the dilemma that participants need to solve and a willingness on both sides to seek a solution that will be responsive to the concerns of all parties.

2. Core concepts: solutions versus underlying concerns

Solutions are potential plans of action.

Concerns , by contrast, are the factors to which the solution needs to be responsive.

For instance, a problem/conflict is that I am hungry, but at the same time, I don’t want to eat – two alternative and seemingly opposed courses of action.

My underlying concern might include wanting to lose weight, to alleviate my hunger, to minimize my intake of calories, and to find an immediate solution. The solution options may be to eat some yogurt, distract myself by phoning a friend, or to exercise as that too tends to alleviate feelings of hunger.

3. One list for both people’s concerns

A happy couple should have healthy conflict

That assumption differs significantly from the usual two-list way of thinking (e.g., my way versus your way or pros versus cons).

4. What if there are seemingly too many underlying concerns?

Paradoxically, the more concerns that have been identified, the more likely it becomes that the ultimate solution will be excellent, even though a long list of concerns may appear daunting.

The trick is for each participant to step back and reflect: “ Of all of these concerns, what one or two concerns are most deeply felt? ” Start the solution-building process by responding to these concerns first. Add additional elements to the solution set until all the underlying concerns have been answered.

For instance, Gil and Angela want to find a new apartment. Stepping back from their list of 20 concerns concerning what apartment to choose, they realize Angela’s primary concern is location. She wants an apartment close to her mother, while Gil’s primary concern is the price. With just two variables to attend to for starters, Angela and Gil can quickly start apartment hunting.

Once they find apartments that met their initial criteria, they add their other concerns.

5. It is for me to look at what I can do, not to tell you what to do.

Solution generating works best if each participant looks at what they can offer toward a win–win solution, and especially toward a plan of action responsive to the other person. Offering suggestions about what the other could do can undermine solution building.

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In the workplace, conflict resolution skills enable managers to keep their work environment positive.

They also enable colleagues to work together harmoniously (Johansen, 2012; Korabik, Baril, & Watson, 1993).

Whereas conflict breeds tension that erodes work quality, cooperation maximizes productivity and, at the same time, keeps employees enjoying their work.

Fortunately, the Win–Win Waltz Worksheet works wonderfully in workplace situations too.

The additional tools below also merit attention when conflicts arise in the business world.

Early intervention. It’s best to address potential tensions as soon as you become aware of them.

Participation. It is generally best to bring together all the parties involved in any given dispute and to have them learn to do the win–win waltz together.

Identify those who, even with guidance, cannot think in terms of win–win.

If one or more parties appear to be unable to look for mutually satisfying solutions, a top-down or powering-over decision may be necessary.

Some parties simply cannot get past looking out for themselves only. Others invest more in seeking to hurt the other party rather than to find benefits for both sides. They would rather create a lose–lose outcome than see the other side receive any aspect of what they want.

Keep the problem, the problem.

The vital principle comes from the work of Fisher and Ury (1991). They rightly identify that talking about people and feelings can be inappropriate in work settings.

The problem, for instance, is not that ‘she is an intrusive person.’ The problem is that roles and responsibilities may be unclear. The problem is not that ‘he is lazy.’ The problem is an unclear division of labor. The problem is not that ‘he works too slowly;’ rather, how to speed up the work process so that deadlines can be met.

14 Effective conflict resolution techniques – BRAINY DOSE

Students can benefit from using the Win–Win Waltz Worksheet when they face conflict situations with roommates, friends, and teachers.

Students also are likely to experience conflicts within their own thoughts and preferences.

For instance, these intrapsychic conflicts can arise when they want to go out with friends but also know they need to study for an exam. The win–win waltz recipe works well for any of these situations.

Worksheets to manage couple conflict

From my way , No my way , to OUR way is for practicing win–win conflict resolutions on issues that can arise at home. The worksheet is from Susan Heitler’s (2003) book The Power of Two Workbook . (Available on Amazon .)

The Anger Exit and Re-entry Worksheet offers guidance for stepping back and calming down when anger begins to emerge.

When people become angry, they cease to be able to hear each other’s concerns. They are likely to disregard all their cooperative-talking skills and instead resort to blame, criticism, and attempts to control.

In the face of irritation or anger, it is essential to have a self-calming ability as part of the conflict resolution process.

It generally is best to begin the self-calming process by stepping back or out of the anger-inducing situation. For this reason, couples need to develop mutual exit/re-entry routines.

Win win conflict resolution

In a collaborative marriage, partners respect each other’s ideas; they avoid dismissing or steamrolling over each other’s viewpoints. But what happens when couples have differing opinions regarding a future decision? Both spouses may want the decision to go their way. Fortunately, both can win.

Exercise 1: The Win-Win Waltz

One hallmark of a true partnership is the effectiveness of two people’s shared decision making.

“Effective” means their ability to make decisions that are responsive to the full range of concerns of both partners.

These steps of the win–win waltz can be used in a group to demonstrate how to make decisions about upcoming events (shared decision making) and to change things that are not working (fix-it talk). The only difference is that fix-it talk begins with two initial steps.

  • Learn the signs and costs of unilateral decision making in a partnership.
  • Learn to make shared decisions.
  • Practice division of labor decisions so that they do not keep re-occurring.
  • Identify pitfalls to avoid and keys to success.

Cue cards – Write one step each on three separate pieces of paper:

  • Express initial positions.
  • Explore underlying concerns.
  • Create win–win solutions.

Win–Win Waltz Situation Cards Win–Win Waltz Worksheet : distribute one copy to each participant.

Place the three cue cards so that they are visible to all the group members (e.g., facing the group, propped on chairs in front of the group). Spread the cards/chairs out so there is room for two people to stand next to each.

Explain that a waltz has three steps, as does collaborative problem solving, pointing to the step on each cue card as you explain it.

Walk through the following example to be sure that everyone understands the difference between concerns (fears, values, motivations) and positions and solutions (plans of action). The leader plays both Pete and Mary.

Step 1: Express initial positions.

Peter and Mary want to buy a car. Peter says, “ Let ‘s buy a Ford. ” Mary says, “ No. I want a Toyota. “

Step 2: Explore underlying concerns.

Ask the group what Peter’s concerns might be. Peter might say: “ The prices are reasonable, and the dealership is close by, so it will be easy to take care of maintenance and repairs. “

Stress that both sides need to explore their underlying concerns, and ask then for what Mary’s might be. Mary might say: “ I don’t want to have to keep taking the car back to the shop; I want as much room as we can get for passengers for our kids and their friends. “

Step 3: Create a plan of action responsive to both.

Go with the information generated by the group. Peter and Mary might say: “ Let’s get a Consumer’s Report guide to cars so we have full information on repair rates, roominess, and prices. Let’s also find out which dealers have repair facilities near us. “

Hint: Encourage thinking in terms of solution sets that are multi-piece answers.

Now, invite one couple in front of the group to try the “waltz” sequence. Use the situation of a couple deciding where to go for dinner.

Emphasize the difference between concerns and positions (which are action plans or specific solutions).

Make one list of all of their concerns and a list of three possible solutions: one partner’s idea with modifications, the other partner’s idea with modifications, and at least one new solution (possible final solution).

Invite the group to look at the difference between concerns and solutions.

Have a different couple come to the front and traverse the three steps on their own to the dilemma: “ What should we do for vacation this summer? ”

To be sure they follow the three steps, use the Win–Win Waltz Worksheet where they can write out the three steps.

Pass out additional Situation Cards and invite other couples to try the win–win waltz in front of the group.

  • Most couples have systems for making decisions together, such as taking turns on who gets their way, whoever feels most strongly about the issue gets their way, or they compromise (they both give up some). How do these three options compare to the win–win waltz?
  • What was most satisfying about this style of problem solving?
  • What will be the hardest part of actually using the win–win waltz?


With the win–win waltz, virtually any decision becomes easy and mutual. Both big and little choices – where to live and what to eat for lunch – become simple and shared. The more skilled a couple becomes, the faster the decision making and the more satisfied you both feel with the resulting plan of action.

Exercise 2: Win–Win Worksheet

Applying the win–win waltz successfully, even under challenging dilemmas, requires practice. It often helps to write out your process on particularly tough decisions.

Use the Win–Win Waltz Worksheet as a guide for working through the process of making collaborative decisions.

Two copies of the Win–Win Waltz Worksheet for each participant.

Couples facing each other, with some space between each couple, so that each couple will be able to work semi-privately.

  • Hand out two worksheets to each participant. Explain that one is to use now, and the second is for them to take home.
  • Ask participants to look at the worksheet. What do they notice about the boxes on the page?
  • They start with two different boxes, then merge into one list of concerns for everyone. In other words, each individual’s interests become the concern of the partnership.
  • There are four different suggestions for ways to generate solution sets. Generating multiple solution sets helps in two ways. First, it fosters creative thinking. Second, evaluating between solution set options often gives rise to identifying additional underlying concerns.
  • Have each couple work together to complete the worksheet. Suggest they pick from one of the following topics:
  • Saving for retirement
  • If you should join a new sports club (or some other organization)

How did the worksheet help to structure your decision-making process?

Using the worksheet can help keep track of the details, emphasizing that all underlying concerns are important.

Exercise 3: Traps and Tips

People sometimes say, “ I tried the win–win waltz, and it didn’t work. ” Usually, that means they fell into one of several common traps.

By contrast, if they said, “ The win–win waltz works great! ” odds are they utilized certain techniques that facilitate success.

One copy of the Traps to Avoid and Tips for Success Worksheet One copy of the Win–Win Waltz Situation Cards

1. Recognize at least three potential traps (listed in Procedure, below).

2. Recognize three techniques for success (below).

Briefly explain each Trap to Avoid and Tip for Success.

  • Frozen thinking (saying the same thing over and over, and not taking in new information) versus absorbing information from each other
  • Attachment to a position and pushing for that solution, evident in attempts to debate, persuade, and convince
  • Criticizing the other’s concerns instead of trying to understand them

Tips for success:

  • Be an example to each other and listen to learn!
  • Create one list for concerns, a shared data pool, so both partners’ concerns become of equal import.
  • Emphasize the elephant: Tell the story about the blind men and the elephant. Each blind man felt one part of the animal. The one who touched its side described the elephant as something like a wall. The one who felt the tail described the animal as like a hose. The trunk felt like a tree branch, the leg like a tree trunk. Putting all of their perspectives together was essential for them to be able to appreciate the whole elephant. Similarly, emphasize that both partners have legitimate views; each of them tunes into different aspects of a dilemma.
  • Ask the last question—” Is there any piece of this that still feels unfinished? “
  • Think out of the box and be creative when exploring possible solution sets.
  • Exit now; talk later. When you get too stuck, drop the dialogue and resume later, when everyone is calmer.

Now, pick one situation from the Situation Cards . Ask for one volunteer (A) to try to be a reasonable spouse. In a way that the rest of the group can’t see, point to one of the trap for another participant (B). This participant will use this style of thinking. The group’s role is to be on the alert for recognizing each trap B demonstrates.

As soon as the group identifies a trap, B needs to let go of it and return to productive mode. A’s role is to try to be so effective that A and B reach a consensus despite the traps.

Debrief by noting what A did that was effective even if B was persisting in a trap.

Ask for two new participants to be A and B. Repeat using a different trap.

Ask participants to help you come up with a potentially tricky decision a couple might have to make. Have two participants come to the front and discuss this question with the tips in front of them. Have the rest of the group pay attention to what tips they used and the impact of them.

What would you like to be able to do if you find yourself or your partner in a trap?

With enough skills, couples can avoid slipping into an adversarial stance. If not, take a break from the discussion, and try another time. Using the tips will often make it easier to come to a consensus on complicated dilemmas.

Exercise 4: Costs of Unilateral Rather Than Shared Decision Making

Depression and anger both indicate flaws in shared decision making. Notice the connection in the following story.

  • Understand the relationship between unilateral decision making, anger, and depression.
  • Experience the concept “ Depression is a disorder of power. “

Tell the following story:

Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far away, a lovely lady named Linda married a handsome man named Len. Linda and Len lived in Louiston, where Linda grew up and was a town she loved.

One day Len said to Linda, “ I don’t seem to be able to find employment here that is as good as what I could get if we were to move. ”

Linda felt crushed. “ I love Louiston. I love my job here, my family, my friends. I don’t want to move, as much as I do understand that the job market is better in other areas. ”

Len answered, “ Linda, I’m sorry that you’re so against the idea. But I have already taken a job several states away. We need to move if we’re ever going to get ahead in life. That’s that. The decision has been made. ”

Continue reading the following instructions to the group, pausing after each, but saving the answers until the visualization has been completed:

  • Close your eyes and picture yourself as Linda.
  • Notice what emotions you are experiencing. Notice who seems more prominent, more powerful – yourself or your partner – as you put yourself into the role of the two partners.
  • What did you experience?
  • Now have two participants role-play this scenario using their best win–win waltz skills. What is different?

Discussion and conclusions

What have you learned about the relationship between anger, depression, and unilateral (one-sided) decision making? The powerless person experiences either anger or depression. The more critical the decision, the more potent the anger/depression.

Our toolkit contains invaluable tools for practitioners, coaches, and other professionals. In fact, the Positive Psychology Toolkit© contains over 400 tools, many of which are highly applicable to conflict resolution.

Below we will briefly mention some of these tools that are designed to assist with conflict resolution.

1. Giving Negative Feedback Positively

In any relationship, there are the inevitable ‘hard topics’ to breach, and by avoiding these topics, more harm is done to the relationship. To approach these discussions in a healthy way, our Giving Negative Feedback Positively worksheet guides you through eight constructive steps for a positive conversation and successful relationships.

2. How to Apologize

This exercise also focuses on positive communication in relationships , guides clients in how to apologize effectively to build trust and prevent further conflict.

3. Hot buttons

When Hot Buttons Are Pushed is a coping exercise to help clients become aware of their ‘hot buttons’ that cause unhelpful and impulsive actions. This exercise will help them respond more effectively once they know what their hot buttons are.

4. Difficult people

Looking at Difficult People from a Strength Perspective  is an exercise to guide a client’s thinking about a ‘difficult’ person. Once the client can see the strengths of that person and focus on positive aspects, they’ll be less affected by less desirable aspects.

5. Improving Expression and Understanding

This couples therapy exercise is geared toward Improving Expression and Understanding and is a formatted guide with prompts to encourage positive communication.

6. 17 Positive Communication Exercises

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others communicate better, this collection contains 17 validated positive communication tools for practitioners . Use them to help others improve their communication skills and form deeper and more positive relationships.

Conflict leads to emotional distress, turmoil, depression, unhappy relationships, and separation.

But it does not have to be that way.

Being able to manage conflict constructively can instead create opportunities to reach many mutually beneficial decisions. The conflict resolution process can bring you and your partner closer together; allow you to learn from each other; and get to know, understand, love, and respect each other even better.

As long as there are differences of opinion, there will always be conflict. But knowing how to manage it productively and turn it into a win–win situation is the key to a healthy relationship , friendship, and family.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Communication Exercises (PDF) for free .

  • Christensen, A., & Heavey, C. L. (1999). Interventions for couples.  Annual Review of Psychology ,  50 (1), 165-190.
  • Cummings, E. M., Koss, K. J., & Davies, P. T. (2015). Prospective relations between family conflict and adolescent maladjustment: Security in the family system as a mediating process.  Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology ,  43 (3), 503-515.
  • Fisher, R., & Ury, W. L. (1991). Getting to yes. Penguin Books.
  • Heitler, S., & Hirsch, A. H. (2003). The power of two workbook: Communication skills for a strong & loving marriage. New Harbinger.
  • Johansen, M. L. (2012). Keeping the peace: Conflict management strategies for nurse managers.  Nursing Management ,  43 (2), 50-54.
  • Kellermann, P. F. (1996). Interpersonal conflict management in group psychotherapy: An integrative perspective.  Group Analysis ,  29 (2), 257-275.
  • Korabik, K., Baril, G. L., & Watson, C. (1993). Managers’ conflict management style and leadership effectiveness: The moderating effects of gender.  Sex Roles ,  29 (5-6), 405-420.

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Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies

Visual supports learning links and templates.

These resources are intended as a starting point to learn more about visual supports and to offer templates and suggestions to begin creating your own visual support materials. You will need a PDF viewer for some of the resources – download Adobe Reader here .

Visual Supports Checklist

The  Visual Supports Checklist (PDF) is based on a review of current literature, practical knowledge, and reported experiences from early childhood educators on the topic of visual supports. Developed by Susan Bennett-Armistead, Ph.D., University of Maine College of Education and Human Development; Bonnie Blagojevic, M.Ed., C.A.S., University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disabilities Studies; Erika Neal, M.Ed., University of Maine Farmington; and Billie Taylor, MSW, LCSW, University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disabilities Studies (June 2011, February 2016).

Take a Look! Visual Supports for Learning

Learning links sampler.

ConnectABILITY – (Scroll down and click on Supported Inclusion and click “Launch”, then click on Communications, and select Visual Supports). Supported inclusion is a learning module for professionals. After launching the module, Visual Supports is a subtopic under Communications. Listen and watch workshops such as Visual Communications, access Tip Sheets, Communication Posters, and other tools.

Creating and Using Social Stories – This Head Start Center for Inclusion web page provides general information about the purpose of social stories, when to use them, how to create and use social stories and offers a variety of ready-made social stories to download and use in the classroom.

The Importance of Schedules and Routines – Familiar activities can provide comfort for both adults and children during challenging and uncertain times. Just like adults, children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar. A consistent daily schedule and step-by-step routines give children a predictable day.

Social Stories – This article discusses how to create and use social stories to help individuals on the autism spectrum to ‘read’ and understand social situations.

Tips and Ideas for Making Visuals to Support Young Children with Challenging Behavior (PDF) – This handout is from The Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, Vanderbilt University.

Using Social Stories to Ease Children’s Transitions (PDF) – This article shares information about what social stories are, how to create them and gives examples such as how they can be used to help toddlers during transition times.

Use Visual Strategies – Provides information regarding what visual strategies are, who benefits from them, and why they help. Explains the research behind why students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavior, and communication challenges benefit from visual strategies.

Using Multimedia to Promote Vocabulary Learning: Supporting English Language Learners in Inclusive Classrooms – A recent research study shows that using multimedia video in conjunction with traditional read aloud methods may improve the vocabulary growth of English language learners. An example of how to implement multimedia during classroom read-alouds is described.

Using Visual Supports with Infants and Toddlers (PDF) – Visual supports are a form of adaptation that rely on visual cues to allow infants and toddlers, and older child, to participate in activities and routines. This newsletter will take visual supports that have been used successfully in childcare centers and preschools and show how they can be used in the home with younger children.

Visual Supports – This collection of visual supports and other resources from the Indiana Resource Center for Autism , provides examples of various strategies that can be used to support students on the autism spectrum, as well as others with and without disabilities.

Create Visual Supports

Student reviewing a visual support's paper on a laptop.

ConnectABILITY Visuals Engine – ConnectABILITY visuals engine helps to build custom visual supports and sequences for your child. Templates are available along with images to insert (and/or you can upload and insert your own) and a place to type in a title for the image.  You can print the completed sequence from the web site.  It provides a list of recommended sizes and different ways visuals can be used.

Early Learning Activities & Visual Supports – The Frank Porter Graham F amily I mplemented T EACCH for T oddlers (FITT) project provides early learning activities and visual supports to teach toddlers with autism new skills and routines. These are highly visual activities that teach the toddler how to engage with toys (e.g., blocks, farm animals) and how to participate in play routines. The photo library provides examples of activities and visuals that FITT interventionists and parents created for their toddlers.

Executive Functioning Module 4: Schedules and Time Management – Scripts with 8 x 10 Pictures – These schedules and time management scripts are downloadable visual supports that can be used by students for understanding and communication in the classroom, at home, and in the community. These scripts support a wide range of useful activities and events.

Hands in Autism – The Practical Tools section of the HANDS in Autism site offers information on how to create visual supports and examples on topics such as Communication Supports, Social Skills Supports, Teaching Academic Skills, Transition Supports, and Self Monitoring.

How to Use Classroom Visuals & Supports – The Head Start Center for Inclusion offers a library of visual supports for teachers to use with children in the classroom. Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use.

How to Use a First/Then Schedule – Mrs. Tabatha explains in a 4-minute YouTube video how to use a First/Then schedule with your child.

Making a Scripted Story for Early childhood Education and Care Environments (PDF) – Scripted stories are a great tool to support a child who has difficulty in a routine or activity . Scripted stories can help a child understand what to expect during the activity or routine, understand the expectations and perspectives of others, and provide instructions about what to do. From the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations.

Picto-Selector – This is a free tool for creating visual schedules which you download to either a Windows or Mac computer. It is used by many teachers and parents. There are also reports of people using it in daycare of elderly people. Picto-Selector makes creating visual schedules easier by: 1) Fast search options to find the needed pictures; 2) Automatic sizes, depending on the number of rows and columns; and 3) Reuse of earlier created schedules.

Picture Supports for Emergency Drills – Success Box – Picture card sets for five main emergency drills: Fire Drill, Bus Evacuation Drill, Tornado Drill, Lockdown Drill and School Evacuation Walk to Another School . These sets can be directly downloaded for printing or they can serve as examples from which you can create your own personalized sets with Boardmaker.

Social Stories – The Head Start Center for Inclusion (HSCI) offers a library of one-page Social Stories™ that can be downloaded, printed out, and customized for immediate use. Teachers and parents may also use these as a template to write their own stories that meet a child’s individual needs.

Social stories and comic strip conversations – Social stories™ and comic strip conversations are ways to help people with autism develop greater social understanding. Here, you will learn a bit more about these two techniques and how you can produce your own.

Teacher Tools: Classroom Visuals and Support – This Head Start Center for Inclusion web page supports teachers to include children with disabilities more naturally in the classroom. These tools are designed to be able to print and go with quick and easy explanations. The ever-growing library of commonly used pictures and visual supports include templates that can be downloaded to use immediately to support children to learn how to problem solve, follow the daily schedule and make friends.

Teaching Strategies: Using a Visual Schedule [Video] – Preschool teacher Patricia Lee describes how she uses a visual schedule to help children know what to expect throughout the day. Created by The Center for Early Childhood Education, Eastern Connecticut State University.

Visual Schedules – Nearly everyone utilizes some form of visual schedule to stay organized. Create visual schedules using the do2Learn™ website. Requires paid subscription after a free trial.

Suggest a resource and/or provide feedback or comments on your use of these resources to Marnie Morneault at [email protected] Please use “Visual Supports Resources” as your email subject line.

Updated: 11/27/2023

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CueThink 2022

Make Math Social

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CueThink is an innovative application focused on improving math problem-solving and collaboration skills.

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Structured approach to problem-solving

Problem-solving is hard. Breaking it into manageable phases helps students slow down and think about their approach.

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Thinking made visible

The problem-solving process is more than what's on a piece of paper. By capturing student voices and whiteboard work, math thinking is made visible.

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Math discussion

Discussion is important to deepen understanding. Moving conversations to a digital space gives everyone a chance to participate.

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Teachers gain insights

Assessment is more than checking for the right answer. Understanding the students’ thinking process allows teachers to plan next steps.

Funded by The National Science Foundation, CueThink is an innovative application and a pedagogy focused on improving critical thinking skills and math collaboration for students in grades 2-12. Our mission is to foster a growth mindset and empower students to see challenges as opportunities.

Learn About Our Four Phased Approach

Classroom Stories

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Grade 3 teacher

"CueThink brought a sense of community to my classroom through seeing and responding to each other’s work. My students had a lot more accountability, pride and confidence as math thinkers. I had them thinking deeply, and by partnering them up, it enabled my students to develop their team-building skills. I got my students to love math! ”


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Rob Vermeer

Grade 4/5/6 teacher "By using CueThink, I can listen to all my students and see their problem solving in a step-by-step manner. The main impact of CueThink is that students are able to access engaging problems through a variety of problem solving strategies. Students are empowered to discover there is more than one way to solve a problem and show academic perseverance.”


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Describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way IELTS Cue Card

Updated on 26 april, 2023.

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study abroad expert.

Mrinal Mandal

The IELTS Speaking section includes a Cue Card task where the candidate is given a topic to speak about for 1-2 minutes. One such topic is "Describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way." The candidate is expected to talk about a person they know who showed exceptional problem-solving skills and explain how they solved the problem. They must also provide details such as when and where the incident took place, and why the person's approach was considered smart. The candidate may also be asked follow-up questions related to the topic.

Describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way. Who this person is What problem they solved How they solved the problem Why you think their solution was smart

Table of Contents

Download e-books for ielts preparation, describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way follow up question, important ielts exam resources.

Model Answer 1:

I'd like to talk about a person I know who solved a problem in a smart way. His name is John, and he's a software engineer at a tech company.

A few months ago, John's team was tasked with creating a new app that would help streamline their company's communication system. The app needed to be user-friendly, efficient, and compatible with various operating systems.

John knew that creating such an app would be a challenge, but he was up for it. He began researching different programming languages and methods that could be used to build the app, and after several weeks of testing and refining, he came up with a solution.

John's solution was to use a hybrid programming language that would allow the app to run smoothly on multiple operating systems. He also incorporated a unique feature that would automatically update the app whenever a new version was available, thus eliminating the need for manual updates.

I think John's solution was smart because it was both efficient and effective. He took the time to research and experiment with different programming methods before settling on the best one. Additionally, his solution addressed all of the requirements of the project and provided an extra benefit of automatic updates.

Overall, I think John's problem-solving skills are truly remarkable, and I'm glad to know him.

Tentative Band Score: 5


Model Answer 2:

The person I want to describe is my friend Sarah. Sarah is a computer science graduate and works as a software engineer in a leading tech company. Last year, her team was working on a project to develop a new feature for their company's flagship product. The project was very challenging, and the team was struggling to find a solution to a particularly tricky problem.

Sarah took the initiative to brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. She came up with several different ideas and presented them to the team. After some discussion, the team agreed that Sarah's solution was the most promising. However, there was a catch: implementing her solution would require a significant amount of extra work and could potentially delay the project.

Undeterred, Sarah decided to take on the extra work herself. She spent several long nights working on the solution, often staying in the office until the early hours of the morning. Her dedication paid off, and her solution ended up being a huge success. Not only did it solve the original problem, but it also made the entire project more efficient and streamlined.

What I admire most about Sarah's problem-solving approach is her willingness to take on extra work and go above and beyond to find a solution. She never gave up, even when the problem seemed insurmountable. Her dedication and hard work inspired the rest of the team and helped them to achieve a successful outcome.

In conclusion, Sarah's problem-solving skills and dedication to finding a solution in a smart way helped her team overcome a significant challenge and achieve a successful outcome. Her example shows that sometimes the best solutions require extra effort and a willingness to think outside the box.

Tentative Band Score: 6

Q1. How did the person you described approach problem-solving in general? Were there any particular strategies or methods they tended to use? A1. The person I described, John, tended to approach problem-solving in a systematic and analytical way. He would start by gathering as much information as possible about the problem, and then analyze it carefully to determine the root cause. From there, he would brainstorm potential solutions and evaluate each one carefully before choosing the best option.

Q2. In your opinion, what qualities make someone a good problem-solver? How do these qualities apply to the person you described? A2. I think that good problem-solvers tend to be analytical, creative, and persistent. They are able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. These qualities definitely apply to John, as he was able to use his creativity and persistence to develop a unique solution to the problem his team was facing.

Q3. Have you ever had to solve a complex problem yourself? What did you learn from the experience? A3. Yes, I have had to solve complex problems in the past. One thing I learned is that it's important to stay calm and focused, even when the problem seems overwhelming. It's also helpful to break the problem down into smaller, more manageable parts, and to seek out advice and input from others who may have different perspectives.

Q4. In what ways can technology be used to solve problems in our society? Can you think of any examples where technology has been used effectively in this way? A4. Technology can be used to solve a wide range of problems in our society, from environmental issues to healthcare challenges. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can be used to help doctors diagnose and treat diseases more effectively. Smart grids can help reduce energy waste and improve efficiency in the power sector. And mobile apps can be used to provide education and support to people in remote or underserved communities.

Q5. Do you think that problem-solving skills are innate or can they be learned? What steps can people take to develop their problem-solving abilities? A5. I think that problem-solving skills can be learned and developed over time. Some people may have a natural inclination towards problem-solving, but with practice and experience, anyone can become a better problem-solver. Some steps people can take to develop their problem-solving abilities include seeking out challenging problems to solve, practicing brainstorming and idea generation, and seeking feedback and advice from others.

Q6. Are there any specific industries or fields where problem-solving skills are especially important? Why do you think this is the case? A6. I think problem-solving skills are important in almost every industry and field, as every job requires some level of problem-solving ability. However, some fields where problem-solving is especially important include engineering, software development, healthcare, and finance. These industries often deal with complex systems and require creative thinking to solve difficult problems.

Q7. How do you think our education system could better prepare students for problem-solving in the real world? Should problem-solving be taught as a separate subject or integrated into other areas of study? A7. I think our education system could do a better job of teaching problem-solving skills by integrating them into other areas of study. Rather than teaching problem-solving as a separate subject, we should be teaching students how to apply problem-solving techniques in the context of their other coursework. This would help students develop a more holistic understanding of problem-solving and how it can be used in a variety of situations.

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Using Cooperative Learning to Teach Mathematics to Students with Learning Disabilities

“ Cooperative learning ” (i.e., jigsaw, learning together, group investigation, student teams-achievement divisions, and teams-games-tournaments) is a generic term that is used to describe an instructional arrangement for teaching academic and collaborative skills to small, heterogeneous groups of students (Rich,1993; Sharan,1980). Cooperative learning is deemed highly desirable because of its tendency to reduce peer competition and isolation, and to promote academic achievement and positive interrelationships. A benefit of cooperative learning, therefore, is to provide students with learning disabilities (LD), who have math disabilities and social interaction difficulties, an instructional arrangement that fosters the application and practice of mathematics and collaborative skills within a natural setting (i.e., group activity). Thus, cooperative learning has been used extensively to promote mathematics achievement of students both with and without LD (Slavin, Leavey, & Madden, 1984; Slavin, Madden, & Leavey,1984).

According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM; 1991), learning environments should be created that promote active learning and teaching; classroom discourse; and individual, small-group, and whole-group learning. Cooperative learning is one example of an instructional arrangement that can be used to foster active student learning, which is an important dimension of mathematics learning and highly endorsed by math educators and researchers. Students can be given tasks to discuss, problem solve, and accomplish.

Cooperative learning activities can be used to supplement textbook instruction by providing students with opportunities to practice newly introduced or to review skills and concepts. Teachers can use cooperative learning activities to help students make connections between the concrete and abstract level of instruction through peer interactions and carefully designed activities.

Finally, cooperative learning can be used to promote classroom discourse and oral language development. Wiig and Semel (1984) described mathematics as “conceptually dense.” That is, students must understand the language and symbols of mathematics because contextual clues, like those found in reading, are lacking in mathematics. For example, math vocabulary (e.g., greater-than, denominator, equivalent) and mathematical symbols (e.g., =, ‹, or ›) must be understood to work problems as there are no contextual clues to aid understanding. In a cooperative learning activity, vocabulary and symbolic understanding can be facilitated with peer interactions and modeling.

Research (e.g., Johnson & Johnson, 1986) supports cooperative learning as an effective approach for including students with LD in classroom group work and promoting peer acceptance. However, some researchers (e.g., Andersen, Nelson, Fox, & Gruber, 1988; Rivera, Gillam, Goodwin, & Smith,1996; Slavin, Madden, & Leavey,1984) caution teachers to integrate direct instruction and cooperative learning. Thus, in cooperative learning groups with proper instruction and preparation (i.e., previous direct instruction on skills), students with math disabilities can benefit from peer interactions to learn mathematics skills and concepts. The purpose of this article is to discuss the components of cooperative learning and to present an example of how cooperative learning can be used to teach mathematics skills.

Cooperative learning components

The literature (e.g., Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec,1994) is replete with descriptions of cooperative learning; therefore, only a brief overview of the components of cooperative learning are described to serve as a foundation for the remaining section of this article. Cooperative learning consists of three major components: “lesson preparation,” “lesson instruction,” and “lesson evaluation.” Each component is briefly described.

Lesson preparation

During the “lesson preparation” component, teachers (a) select the mathematics and collaborative objectives to target for instruction and cooperative learning groups, (b) plan the math activity, (c) identify ways to promote the elements of cooperative learning, (d) identify roles, and (e) establish groups. To identify mathematics content area objectives for instruction, teachers can examine a variety of resources, such as curriculum guides, textbooks, the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards (NCTM, 1989), and students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Additionally, teachers can use assessment information obtained from clinical interviews, criterion-referenced tests, and error analyses (Enright, 1995; Rivera & Bryant, 1992) that reflects students’ knowledge of prerequisite mathematics skills and concepts (see Bryant’s article in this series).

Collaborative objectives, in turn, can be drawn from curriculum guides, IEPs, and other references (e.g., Jackson, Jackson, & Monroe,1983; McGinnis & Goldstein,1984; Walker et al.,1983). Additionally, it is recommended that student group behaviors and interactions be observed to identify those collaborative skills (e.g., listening, sharing, taking turns, asking questions, using self-control, compromising, contributing ideas) that require intervention to enable students to work successfully as a group towards task completion.

Designing math activities for cooperative learning groups requires consideration of both the instructional objectives and the purposes for having children work in a cooperative instructional arrangement. Teachers should design activities to promote math understanding by having students practice, experiment, manipulate, reason, and problem solve. Such math activities may help students make connections across math skills and concepts, and other disciplines. Kagan (1989/90) identified ways to structure group activities to foster group interactions. Table 1 presents four examples of activity structures, their definitions, and applications to math activities.

According to Johnson et al. (1994), there are five basic elements of cooperative learning: positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual accountability, group behaviors, and group processing. Positive interdependence means that students see the importance of working as a team and realize that they are responsible for contributing to the group’s effort. face-to-face interaction involves students working in environmental situations that promote eye contact and social space so that students can engage in discussions. Individual accountability suggests that each person is responsible to the group and must be a contributing member- not someone who lets others do all of the work. Group behaviors refer to those interpersonal, social, collaborative skills needed to work with others successfully. Finally, group processing is a time after the cooperative learning task is finished when team members analyze their own and their group’s abilities to work collaboratively.

These five elements can be structured to promote team work and collaborative skills. They can be facilitated in various ways, for example, by (a) asking students to be responsible for certain duties (e.g., record keeper, spokesperson, encourager); (b) providing limited materials thus necessitating sharing; (c) providing bonus points for demonstrating collaborative behaviors; (d) asking students to self-evaluate after-task completion, (e) assigning a group grade to the math activity, and (f) arranging the environment so students interact in small groups (see Johnson et al.,1994 for a thorough discussion of the five elements and activities to promote them).

Roles with specific responsibilities can be assigned to each group member. Examples of roles include materials person, spokesperson, writer, encourages and timekeeper. Roles should be taught and practiced prior to placing students in cooperative groups; students need a good understanding of the responsibilities associated with each role.

Groups should contain various ability levels. By limiting group size to four to six students, each member should be able to have an active role and access materials within a reasonable amount of time.

Lesson instruction

The “lesson instruction” component of cooperative learning refers to the time in which cooperative learning activities occur. Students should engage in cooperative learning activities after they have received direct instruction in the mathematics and collaborative skills objectives targeted for the group activity. Asking students to perform math activities and collaborative skills for which no previous direct instruction has occurred puts students with LD (as well as other students) at risk for failure and group frustration. Inevitably, the lack of direct instruction prior to cooperative learning may result in numerous questions requesting clarification and assistance. Therefore, “lesson instruction” consists first of direct instruction, and then the cooperative learning activity. Cooperative learning can be used as the “guided practice” time when students engage in tasks to practice introduced skills. Cooperative learning can be used at the onset of math instruction as a means of reviewing skills and concepts or after the presentation of subject matter where new material is practiced within the context of previously taught material. For example, if the math objective is to teach students how to solve story problems using a strategy, then the strategy steps should first be taught directly. Students could then work in a cooperative learning activity that requires the use of the strategy to solve story problems.

An important aspect of the “lesson instruction” component is the teacher’s role. The teacher must (a) have students transition quickly after direct instruction, (b) have activities and materials ready, (c) monitor student progress in groups, and (d) reinforce the occurrences of collaborative behaviors.

During cooperative learning activities, teachers should circulate among groups monitoring the students’ ability to complete the assigned mathematics activity and demonstrate the targeted collaborative skills. The teacher can facilitate group work by asking questions to help students redirect their work, by providing additional instruction to some students who may be struggling with the task, and by reinforcing students’ efforts for working collaboratively and seeking solutions to problems.

Lesson evaluation

The purpose of the “lesson evaluation” component is to assess student mastery of the math objectives and the group’s ability to work collaboratively. Teachers can conduct such evaluation by (a) observing students during the cooperative learning activity, (b) having students complete individual tasks following cooperative learning activities, and (c) asking students to engage in group processing (self-evaluation).

Teachers can assess students’ mathematics abilities during the group activity by addressing evaluation questions, such as those listed in Table 2. Group and/or individual responses and needs can be recorded on a clipboard to determine if additional instruction and group work are necessary for students to achieve mastery. Answers to the evaluation questions may suggest further direct instruction in a math skill with some or all of the students.

When the cooperative learning activity is finished, teachers may want to administer an individual posttest to determine how well each student has mastered the mathematics content. This is a common form of pupil evaluation that typically yields some type of permanent product, which can then can be graded. The purpose of this evaluation is to ascertain whether students are capable of performing the mathematics objectives independently at mastery level.

Students also should be given the opportunity to evaluate their ability to be team players; this is called group processing. Johnson and Johnson (1986) recommended that, following any cooperative learning activity, students should have time to discuss how their group performed in completing the math activities. Their responses could be recorded and discussed with the teacher to determine pupil-teacher agreement on the group’s ability to work collaboratively.

With careful planning, implementation, and evaluation cooperative learning activities can be achieved successfully by most students. The next section provides an example of using cooperative learning to teach mathematics.

Teaching mathematics using cooperative learning

Below is an example of using cooperative learning to teach a math lesson based on the three major components of cooperative learning: “lesson preparation,” “lesson instruction,” and “lesson evaluation.” In this example, five students with LD attend a third grade general education classroom for most of the school day and receive special education resource remedial assistance for mathematics skills. The cooperative learning activity in this example is taking place in the general education setting where the general and special education teachers plan and teach cooperative learning math activities collaboratively twice a week.

During “preparation” the cooperative learning math activity is designed; a description of “preparation” activities follows.

Establish objectives. In this example, the instructional objective for mathematics is: “Students will solve two-step story problems containing extraneous information with 90% accuracy .” The collaborative objective is: “Students will encourage and support teammates and share materials when requested.” The objectives are based on (a) school district special education curriculum guides, (b) students’ Individualized Education Program goals for mathematics and social skills, (c) curriculum-based assessment of whole number computation, and (d) observations of group behaviors and interactions.

Structure the activity. In whole group instruction, the instructional objective will be addressed by reviewing with all students the steps of a story problem-solving strategy that was learned the previous week. Students will recite the strategy’s steps using cue cards. Using the strategy, two story problems will be solved by the teachers who will recite the steps and verbalize their thinking processes as they work through the problems. Then, students will solve two story problems with the teachers. Next, students will review cooperative learning role responsibilities and explain ways to encourage and support each other. Rules about sharing also will be reviewed.

In the cooperative learning group, “numbered heads” will be used as the activity structure. Students will use their strategy cue cards to solve four story problems. Teachers will facilitate group work and interactions. Time will be allowed for group processing and students (when called on by group and number) will explain how their group solved a particular story problem.

Promote the elements of cooperative learning. Student roles will be assigned and bonus points will be distributed intermittently based on each group’s demonstration of encouraging and supportive behavior. One strategy cue card will be distributed to each group, thus necessitating sharing of the card. A posttest will be individually administered containing four story problems to determine if students can solve the story problems independently using their cue cards. The reading level of the story problems will be controlled for different ability levels in the classroom.

Identify the roles and groups. Each group will include a timekeeper to monitor the time and keep the group on task, a materials person to manage the cue card, a writer to record the group’s problem-solving responses and answers, and a spokesperson to lead the group during group processing time and to share the group’s results with the teacher. The groups will consist of four students; only one student with LD will be a member of each group.

Implementation of the math lesson, in this example, requires direct instruction followed by the cooperative learning activity. The instructional steps are described below.

Provide an advance organizer. Explain the purpose of the lesson and the instructional and collaborative objectives. Describe the lesson’s activities and the teachers’ roles in the lesson. Remind students that they worked on a story problem-solving strategy last week and ask for a definition of a strategy.

Present the lesson. Have students refer to their strategy cue cards and repeat the strategy steps. Ask individual students to recite the steps, then ask students to repeat the steps without referring to the cue card, if possible. Next, model solving a story problem using the strategy cue card and verbalizing the steps. Have students imitate this process solving another problem at their desks. Ask for answers and explanations of how the problem was solved.

Explain the cooperative learning activity, using the “numbered heads” structure. Remind students that they can use a cue card to solve their four story problems. Review students’ roles and responsibilities and ask for explanations of how students encourage and support one another. Provide directions for transitioning into cooperative learning groups, set a time, distribute materials, and review the task. Once students are in groups, serve as a facilitator by guiding students with questions (e.g., “What are the steps in the strategy?” “What do you do first?” “How do you determine extraneous information?”) or providing further instruction if necessary. Reinforce groups for demonstrating appropriate collaborative behaviors. Provide time for group processing, and call on students by number and group to provide answers to the story problems.

Evaluating the students’ mastery of the instructional and collaborative objectives is critical. As mentioned earlier in this article, there are three types of evaluation. In this example, the first evaluation can be done during the cooperative learning activity: note evaluative comments that may assist in planning additional lessons or document individual student difficulty. For instance, evaluation questions like those in Table 1 can be used to determine mastery or potential trouble spots solving story problems. The second evaluation is individual and can be done following the group activity by administering a posttest. This can help teachers determine students’ ability to solve story problems on their own and to apply the strategy. Finally, have students evaluate themselves during group processing to determine their abilities with the designated collaborative skills. This evaluation should be shared with the teacher to be sure that teacher and student perceptions of abilities match.


Cooperative learning is a popular instructional arrangement for teaching mathematics to students both with and without LD. Coupled with direct instruction, cooperative learning holds great promise as a supplement to textbook instruction by providing students with LD opportunities to practice math skills and concepts, reason and problem solve with peers, use mathematical language to discuss concepts, and make connections to other skills and disciplines. Carefully constructed lessons, using the “lesson preparation,” “lesson instruction,” and “lesson evaluation” components can offer students with LD rich learning opportunities in mathematics instruction.

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Rivera, D. P., Gillam, R., Goodwin, M., & Smith, R. (1996). The effects of cooperative learning on the acquisition of story problem solving skills of students with learning disabilities. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Sharan, S. (1980). Cooperative learning in small groups: Recent methods and effects on achievement, attitudes, and ethnic relations. Review of Educational Research, 50(2), 241 271.

Slavin, R. E., Leavey, M. B., & Madden, N. A. (1984). Combining cooperative learning and individualized instruction: Effects on student mathematics achievement, attitudes, and behaviors. The Elementary School Journal, 84(4), 409422.

Slavin, R. E., Madden, N. A., & Leavey, M. (1984). Effects of team assisted individualization on the mathematics achievement of academically handicapped and non-handicapped students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(5), 813819.

Walker, H., McConnell, S., Holmes, D., Todis, B., Walker, J., & Golden, N. (1983). The Walker Social Skills Curriculum. Austin, TX: PROED.

Wiig, E., & Semel, E. (1984). Language assessment and intervention for the learning disabled child(and ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill.

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  1. Solution Kit: Classroom Edition

    Solution Kit: Classroom Edition Use the solution kit cards as prompts to assist in problem-solving. View Resource File Type: pdf Categories: Visual Support Tags: Classroom Implementation, Practical Strategies, Social-Emotional Skills - Problem-Solving

  2. PDF Solution Kit: Classroom Edition

    Solution Kit Instructions. Print and cut the Solution Kit pictures or save to your computer to resize and print. You can make the cards sturdy by laminating, gluing the cards to cardboard, or covering them with clear contact paper. Read the We Can Be Problem Solvers! story with the children to teach the problem solving steps. Introduce the ...


    TEACHING TIPS EXPLORE USEFUL VOCABULARY: problem, conflict, solve, cooperate, cue card strategies 1. INTRODUCE ♦ Show children the Problem Solver Poster and walk through each step on the poster. ♦ Choose one Solution Kit Cue Card: o Ask children to guess what the card means.

  4. Solution Kit: Home Edition

    Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF) Includes Chinese and Spanish translations! Cut on black lines to create 4″ x 4″ cue cards Solution Kit (PDF) Includes Chinese and Spanish translations! Problem Solving Steps - School Age (PDF) Problem Solving Steps (PDF)

  5. Cue Cards: Hints to Help Your Students Succeed

    Cue cards can be used for any content area, including behavior, and can be created by teachers as well as students. When teachers carefully consider the problem or procedure, analyze the steps involved, and select a clear, efficient representation of those steps, students are more likely to learn the concept or skill (Conderman & Hedin, 2011).

  6. Problem Solving Cue Cards Teaching Resources

    $4.00 PDF Addition Task Cards with Visual Cues from Autism Classroom. (74 pages.) There are 3 types of task cards included with single-digit addition equations for 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's.Directions for Set 1: Laminate. Cut each task card (2 per page.)

  7. Cue Cards For Solving Problems Teaching Resources

    Cue Cards for Problem Solving. by . Adie Buchinsky. 5.0 (5) $2.00. PDF; These color-coded cue cards will help students to follow multi-step math procedures with increasing independence. Training students to use these cue cards will help them to become systematic thinkers as they approach more challenging math algorithms in the future.

  8. Implementing Effective Practices to Support Young Children's Social

    Use the solution kit cue cards to provide a visual picture and the words to help children identify possible solutions to problems. Each time a cue card is used with a child, he/she is being introduced to vocabulary and print awareness.

  9. Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF)

    Home About the Teaching Pyramid Professional Development Components Walking Up the Pyramid Materials Community of Practice Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF) Includes Chinese and Spanish translations! Cut on black lines to create 4″ x 4″ cue cards Download: Solution Kit Cue Cards (PDF)

  10. Classroom Visuals & Supports

    The Head Start Center for Inclusion offers a library of visual supports for teachers to use with children in the classroom. Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use.

  11. Resources: Practical Strategies for Teachers/Caregivers

    Problem-Solving Steps Poster: PPT | PDF Pre-K: PPT | Toddler: PPT en español: Pasos para resolver problemas PPT. Solution Kit (9 pages) PDF: Solution Kit (1 page) PDF: Solution Kit Cue Cards (940 KB) PPT en español: PPT : Tools for Developing Behavior Support Plans The following are from the Module Archive. These are Modules from 2003.


    2 X 2 SOLUTION KIT CUE CARDS . 3 X 3 SOLUTION KIT CUE CARDS . 3 X 3 SOLUTION KIT CUE CARDS . Share Ignore Say, " Please. Trade Get a Teacher Ask Nicely Play together Say, "Please Stop." DO Get a Timer Wait and take turns. Say, " Please. Ignore Ask Nicely Say, "Please Stop." DO Get a Teacher Play together . Trade Get a Timer

  13. 4 Conflict Resolution Worksheets For Your Practice

    2 Useful Conflict Resolution Worksheets Conflict - problems, issues, troubles, dilemmas, tough decisions, etc. - generally emerge in one or more of the following three areas (adapted from Kellermann, 1996): Intrapsychic conflicts - pulls and tugs within a person's array of feelings, desires, thoughts, fears, and actions

  14. Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies

    Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use. How to Use a First/Then Schedule - Mrs. Tabatha explains in a 4-minute YouTube video how to use a First/Then schedule with your child.

  15. Cue Cards for Problem Solving by Adie Buchinsky

    Cue Cards for Problem Solving by Adie Buchinsky | TpT These color-coded cue cards will help students to follow multi-step math procedures with increasing independence. Training students to use these cue cards will help them to become systematic thinkers as they approach more challenging math algorithms in the future. Menu About Us Gift Cards Help

  16. PDF Problem Solving Cards

    The attached cards are examples of alternatives for children who are having disagreements during activities and play. My favorite way to carry them are on a ring for easy access. You can carry them with you as well as hang them around the classroom or house in play areas.

  17. CueThink

    The problem-solving process is more than what's on a piece of paper. By capturing student voices and whiteboard work, math thinking is made visible. Math discussion. Discussion is important to deepen understanding. Moving conversations to a digital space gives everyone a chance to participate.

  18. PDF Solution Kit: Classroom Edition

    Solution Kit Instructions. Print and cut the Solution Kit pictures or save to your computer to resize and print. You can make the cards sturdy by laminating, gluing the cards to cardboard, or covering them with clear contact paper. Read the We Can Be Problem Solvers! story with the children to teach the problem solving steps. Introduce the ...

  19. Cue Cards: A Self-Regulatory Strategy for Students With Learning

    One of those strategies is cue cards. As a vehicle for supporting evidence-based practices, cue cards help students (a) learn academic and behavioral steps, principles, procedures, processes, and rules; (b) organize their approach to a task; (c) monitor their performance; and (d) become more independent learners.

  20. Free problem solving task cards

    Pair these problem solving task cards with the no-prep STEAM / STEM printable worksheet for a great back to school resource. Include them in your Makerspace, STEM bins, morning tubs, centers, as a reward, or as an activity for early finishers. Perfect for classrooms, homeschool, and even parents looking for fun, adven.

  21. Solution Kit: Home Edition

    Solution Kit: Home Edition Use the solution kit cards as prompts to assist in problem-solving. View Resource File Type: pdf Categories: Visual Support Tags: Family Engagement, Social-Emotional Skills - Problem-Solving, Training

  22. Describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way : IELTS Cue Card

    The IELTS Speaking section includes a Cue Card task where the candidate is given a topic to speak about for 1-2 minutes. One such topic is "Describe a person who solved a problem in a smart way." The candidate is expected to talk about a person they know who showed exceptional problem-solving skills and explain how they solved the problem.

  23. Using Cooperative Learning to Teach Mathematics to Students with

    Present the lesson. Have students refer to their strategy cue cards and repeat the strategy steps. Ask individual students to recite the steps, then ask students to repeat the steps without referring to the cue card, if possible. Next, model solving a story problem using the strategy cue card and verbalizing the steps.