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Career Readiness | Middle School | Critical Thinking

Problem Solving Lesson Plans Your Middle School Students Will Love

July 11th, 2022 | 5 min. read

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Need resources for teaching problem solving in your middle school career readiness classes?


As a career readiness curriculum developer, middle school teachers often ask if we have resources to help teach problem solving.

While our digital curriculum includes content on critical thinking, decision making, and other 21st Century skills, our solution may not be the best fit for everyone.

Our Middle School Digital Literacy & Career Exploration curriculum is designed to teach dozens of skills such as professionalism, communication, digital literacy, and more.

However, some teachers are only looking for supplemental problem solving lessons and activities to add to their existing curriculum.

To help you teach these skills, we've found four popular providers of problem solving lessons and activities for middle school:

  1. TeacherVision
  2. Ed Creative
  3. BrainPOP
  4. TEDEd

All of these resources have both pros and cons, so looking at each one individually is key when planning your problem solving lessons!


1. TeacherVision's Problem Solving Lesson

TeacherVision is a digital resource that offers free online lesson plans, including a problem solving lesson.

This problem solving lesson has two key objectives:

  • Students will be introduced to a problem-solving procedure
  • Students will participate in a structured practice of resolving conflict

Along with the lesson objectives, you'll find the materials list and the procedure for completing the lesson.

That makes TeacherVision a robust resource with an easy-to-follow lesson plan for introducing students to problem solving.

On the downside, the lesson is listed as appropriate for students between first and eighth grade.

That means you may want to bulk it up a bit in order to really be relevant and engaging to your middle school students.


2. Ed Creative's Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Lesson Plans

Ed Creative is a subdivision of that collects lesson plans from other online resources.

That makes Ed Creative one of the best lesson plan databases online.

It includes a variety of lesson plans and activities to teach creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills.

Many of these lessons are intended for children up to eighth grade. That means you'll likely find resources that fit perfectly in your middle school classes.

In addition, some lessons overlap with other subjects you may need to teach in your career readiness classes. For example, one resource is entitled Thinking Critically About Advertising and would tie in well with lessons on media literacy.

The lesson encourages students to consider behind-the-scenes angles when presented with ads, encouraging them to think critically and logically about why the ad is what it is.

Still, these resources are a little disorganized which means it will take you time to review each option and decide if it's a good fit.


3. BrainPOP's Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Activities

BrainPOP is an educational resource provider with many teaching resources for every grade level.

In this case, their critical thinking and problem solving lesson plan is intended for any sixth to 12th grade student.

In this lesson, students will:

  • Apply critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills to online gameplay and writing tasks
  • Analyze situations from multiple perspectives and viewpoints
  • Distinguish between facts, opinions, and solutions
  • Demonstrate 21st Century skills such as global awareness, information literacy, communication, and collaboration

BrainPOP lays out the procedure, materials, and everything else you’ll need for the lesson — even time approximations!

That thorough approach to detail makes it easier to plan different tasks you’ll carry out throughout the lesson each day.

Even if the lesson takes a full week, you can still plan appropriately and stay on task.

Unfortunately, BrainPOP doesn’t have many downloadable resources you can print and use in the classroom.


4. TEDEd's Resources for Teaching Problem Solving Skills

TEDEd is an active advocate of education and learning materials. That’s why they have an enormous section of their website dedicated to problem solving skills.

In this section, you’ll find videos and interactive tasks that walk students through riddles, problems, and complications to find desirable results.

Every riddle and problem has an answer, so you don’t have to worry about figuring it out yourself. Even better, you can be sure there’s a practical solution to every issue.

Best of all, you leave students with the freedom to innovate their own solutions, potentially creating a new solution that a riddle maker hadn’t considered.

The varying complexity and length of these lessons make them ideal for various grade levels. However, you can choose to filter specifically for middle school.

On the downside, these aren’t literal “lesson plans.” TEDEd provides many resources, but they’re not contextualized for a classroom.

Instead, you’ll have to build your lessons around these resources to get the best results.

This makes TEDEd an excellent catchall whenever you need problem solving materials.

You’ll just have to do a little extra work to make it classroom ready.


Which Problem Solving Lessons Are Best?

Overall, there isn't a simple "best" option for teaching problem solving in middle school. It all depends on the needs of you, your course, and your students.

Each resource we've shared could be a great addition to your career readiness curriculum.

However, if you need a curriculum that includes problem solving skills among other career readiness topics, consider looking into iCEV’s career readiness and digital literacy curriculum.

Thousands of teachers like you use the curriculum to teach career exploration, personal financial literacy, communication skills and more.

Overall, it helps you save time with planning, assessing, and grading student work all while maximizing student understanding and information retention.

Wondering if iCEV could work for your middle school classroom? Check out our Middle School digital Literacy & Career Exploration curriculum:


Discover the Digital Literacy & Career Exploration Curriculum