Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20 minutes in class (plus student prep time outside class)
This template can help students to write their first problem statements.
Once students have claims to write about (claims you provide
them with, claims the class has generated, or claims that will
form the foundation of an essay), ask them to write a problem
statement for homework, using the template if they want to. If
students have trouble with the template, they can start with
the questions on the brainstorming sheet (easier because they
begin, rather than end, with the claim). Share results as a class.
Scroll down for the template and brainstorming list.
Statement Template (Claim Last)
If you're having trouble writing a problem statement, try brainstorm
ways to fill in the blanks. These are only guidelines; you don't
need to use them, and you probably shouldn't use exactly this wording
in your final essay.
Describe unchanging facts about the topic/problem.
For many years, people have debated about ______________________.
____________________ has been controversial because
______________________ has dominated discussions of _____________.
State common but incorrect or incomplete assumptions.
Many people think ________________________________________________________.
At first glance, it may seem like ______________________________________________.
Describe something that reveals the status quo assumptions to be
incomplete or inaccurate.
This initial perception fails to take into account __________________________________
This theory can't explain ___________________________________________________
People have failed to notice, however, _________________________________________
Show readers why they should care: what bad things will happen
if people continue to believe the status quo? what good things
will happen once they stop believing it?
If we continue to believe _______________, we'll never understand
the larger question of ______________________________________________________________________.
Unless we change _____________________, we will continue to have
trouble with ______________________________________________________________________.
Once we understand ___________________, we'll begin to see the
answer to the problem ______________________________________________________________________.
By rethinking our approach to ___________________, we can fix ________________.
Provide a better theory/explanation to replace the status quo.
State your claim.
Problem Statements (Claim first)
If the template isn't working for you, try starting with these
questions. Take your answers to these question and put them into
fairy-tale order (Status Quo, Destabilizing Moment, Consequences,
Resolution). Then, try turning those answers into a form that will
match the problem statement template.
State your claim. Name something interesting that you've learned
about the topic from reading/discussion/research.
Why do you think the claim is interesting or important? What bigger
questions has it helped you answer? What problems has it helped
you to understand or solve?
What specific fact/concept/reading/etc. helped you to discover
Before you discovered the claim, what incorrect or incomplete opinion
did you hold about the topic?