School Improvement in Maryland
PROBLEM SOLVING
    Introduction
    Template
    Lesson Plan
    Sample Student Response
Introduction
    This critical thinking skill is included because of the many contemporary problems that all levels of government face. As citizens, students will have to be able to propose and evaluate solutions. Have students practice frequently with the template using various issues mentioned in newspapers and news magazines.

    The lesson plan and sample student response sheet were developed to match:

    Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 4.1.2

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

    Skills for Success Indicator 2.4.5

    Students will evaluate solutions and strategies used to solve problems.

    Students will need statistics on taxes, demographics, and businesses for this lesson. Provide local community data if possible, or use this information:

    Maryland sales tax$.05 per dollar
    County income tax55% of federal income tax
    County property tax$2.00 per $1000 assessed value
    Residents with children in school65%
    Major businesses/employers(will vary)
    Other revenue sourcesRecreation fees, lottery, etc...

    Below is the funding problem that students will use in this lesson. Make an overhead transparency or place it on the board.

    The local government needs $10 million to repair aging schools and must decide on the best way to raise this money.
     
Template

    Explanation

    There are many situations in which citizens must develop a plan for solving a particular problem. Here is a step-by-step process which analyzes the problem, identifies the various options, evaluates the options, implements a solution, and evaluates the results.

    Model for Solving

      Describe the problem.
       
       
      What other information do you have about it (people, issues, resources)?
       
       
      What is your goal in solving the problem?
       
       
      List all possible solutions/options.
       
       
      List the positive and negative aspects for each option.
       
       
      Choose a solution, and explain your plan for implementing it.
       
       
      How does the solution meet the goal listed above?
       
       
      How were you able to solve this problem?
       
       
Lesson Plan
    Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 4.1.2

      Students will utilize principles of economic costs and benefits and opportunity cost to analyze the effectiveness of government policy in achieving socio-economic goals.
       
    Skills for Success Indicator 2.4.5

      Students will evaluate solutions and strategies used to solve problems.

    Lesson Objective: 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.

    Preparation/Motivation

    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 costs.
    3. Give students a copy of the Problem Solving Skill Sheet and read the funding problem to them. Students will need local 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.
       
    Summary/Assessment

    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. Use the Social Studies Rubric to assess student responses.
     

Sample Student Response
    Core Learning Goal Indicator 4.1.2

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

    The local government needs $10 million to repair aging schools and must decide on the best way to raise this money.
     

    .
    Describe the problem.
      where will the government get money to repair schools
       
    What other information do you have about it (people, issues, resources)?
      The current sales tax is $.05 per dollar, local income tax is 55%, and the property tax rate is $2 per $1000. The council is up for re-election this year. About 65% of residents have children in the schools. There are many local businesses in the area which hire high school graduates.
       
    What is your goal in solving the problem?
      to get the money without causing hardship to any one group of citizens
       
    List all possible solutions/options.
      raise the sales tax; raise the income tax; raise the property tax; create a new lottery game; obtain corporate sponsorships; attract new businesses
       
    List the positive and negative aspects for each option.
      overall positives: all generate revenue
      overall negatives: most burden a certain group of taxpayers by limiting
      take-home pay, purchasing power, or home ownership

       
    Choose a solution and explain your plan for implementing it.
      corporate sponsorships because they can donate and then benefit from a tax write-off - have every major business in the community pledge a certain percentage of their profits for school repair
       
    How does the solution meet the goal listed above?
      the necessary amount of money will be raised without placing a hardship on individual taxpayers or groups
       
    How were you able to solve this problem?
      I evaluated possible solutions and the cost factors involved to determine the most equitable response

 
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