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Teacher Tips and Answers

Warm-Up for Problem-Solution Writing

When you search for a job, you'll see that employers seek "self-starters" who are "goal-oriented" and "collaborative team members," people who thrive in a "dynamic workplace environment" and take on "diverse challenges." Employers seek problem solvers.

That's a secret to success not just on the job but in life itself: Be the solution person instead of the problem person. The world is filled with problems and with people who love to focus on them. Become one of those rare people who loves to devise solutions—fixing problems and improving life for everyone.

In this unit, you will write an essay that closely analyzes a problem in your community, proposes a specific solution, and argues to convince the reader that it will work. As you develop your essay, you will use the problem-solving process.

What Is the Problem-Solving Process?

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The problem-solving process is a series of steps that carries a person from knowing little about a problem to creating a satisfying solution. This process switches back and forth between critical and creative thinking, following steps like these:

  1. Analyze the problem, exploring causes and effects (critical thinking).
  2. Brainstorm solutions—ways to remove or reduce causes and effects (creative thinking).
  3. Evaluate possible solutions and choose the best one (critical thinking).
  4. Create a plan for implementing the solution (creative thinking).
  5. Apply the plan, evaluating each part (critical thinking).
  6. Revise, refine, and perfect the solution (creative thinking).

You'll use the problem-solving process right along with the writing process as you create your essay. In fact, they are related. The writing process is one version of the problem-solving process—the steps that take you from knowing little about your topic to having an effective final essay. The lessons in this unit will guide you through both processes. You can get started by thinking about the problems all around you.

Thinking About Problems

"Problem" is a big word. It can refer to something as simple as a hang-nail and something as complex as the national debt. One way to start thinking about problems, big and small, is to focus on "pain points." A pain point is simply something that causes you discomfort. It could be a squeaky desk in second hour. It could be the fact that your best friend is moving to Tucson. Both are problems that need effective solutions.

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