Classroom Guide-6Ds

A Manual for Bringing the
6Ds of Solution Fluency
into Any Learning Environment
The children of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow
will need a process they can internalize for facing challenges
and problems that really matter. We’ve come to know this as
the 6Ds of Solution Fluency.
In the sections that follow, we’ll focus on the mechanics and
thought processes behind each stage of the 6Ds. We’ll give
you lots of information on how to incorporate them into your
lessons, even if you’ve never done it before.
Solution Fluency is an essential system for building great
problem-solving prowess and critical thinking capacity.
If you’ve ever had any questions about applying Solution
Fluency to the toughest classroom learning tasks, this will
answer many of them.
It will give you a better roadmap to give to your learners for
applying Solution Fluency to all the learning adventures you’ll
take them on—and all the life adventures they’ll experience
long after school.
In order to solve a
problem, we have to
clearly define what
the problem is first.
We must decide
exactly what needs
to be solved, and
give proper context
to the problem.
This is the stage of
researching and
gathering, and
analyzing clear
knowledge about
the problem. This
helps us to give the
problem context so
that we can identify
with it easier.
Here, we open up
the heart and mind
to the possibilities
and visions of a
solution the way we
wish to see it. This
phase is all about
imagining and vision,
extrapolation, and
This is basically the
phase. Here the
actual mechanics of
the solution begin
to take shape. It also
involves techniques
that allow us to get
the solution “on
In this phase, there
are two separate
and Publish. This
involves the action
for completing the
product (Produce),
and presenting the
proposed solution
This is a reflection
stage where the
learners get to own
their learning. They
look at the ways
they succeeded,
and ways they
could improve their
approach in similar
future situations.
The 6Ds are Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, and Debrief. We’ll look at the prerequisites for each stage
and offer you some key questions you can use while the stages are executed in any problem-solving venture in your
classroom. Additionally, we’ll offer some expected outcomes for that stage. Use it as a template for applying formative
assessment strategies for gauging success with Solution Fluency.
You’ll be revisiting and revising things every step of the way. Consider the outcomes as a helpful guideline for constant
improvement and reflection, not an indication that you or your learners have either succeeded or failed.
In order to solve a problem, we have to clearly define what the
problem is first. We must decide exactly what needs to be solved,
and give proper context to the problem.
This is about defining the problem or challenge. In this stage, we introduce the task and guide the
learners in obtaining some key information:
• What is the purpose of the activity or task?
• Who is the audience for the product or solution?
Our learners thrive on real problems provided within a realistic context. Being able to link the activity
and its purpose to the world makes learning more engaging and relevant to them.
The teacher has a clear understanding of the intended goals and outcomes of the activity and has
identified the curricular links and any timetabling or scheduling elements. The assessment elements
are also identified, including how the aspect will be assessed, the assessment’s value, and the
mode of assessment.
Key Questions
What are your learners’
areas of knowledge and
What is the
What are the outcomes
and solutions?
What is the time frame
for the process?
Does the learning
activity have a
practical context?
Who is the
Most projects start with prior knowledge or experience. Get an idea of what the students know or need to know before undertaking the
task. Remember also that knowledge can be lost or forgotten over time. The development stage that the students are at impacts what
they have retained and what has been discarded.
Things will work better if your learners have a realistic and clearly defined sense of purpose for why the problem must be solved or
the challenge met. Without one, they are far less likely to be engaged.
Will this task be directed to a particular solution, or will the students be able to consider and select a solution that suits their purpose?
Many of the problems our learners will face beyond school will be under specific time constraints regarding the development of a
viable solution. Giving the task a deadline provides a great exercise in effective time management.
The more contextual and real-world the task or problem is, the more likely you are to get engagement from the learners.
The audience for whom the solution is intended has a huge influence on how it’s designed. It influences the style, type, and
complexity of the language used, and also design elements like colour schemes, image selection, layout, fonts, and more.
Students should be able to clearly define the task they are about to undertake either verbally or in writing. They can state
the purpose of the activity, the target audience, the required outcomes, the timeframe for the task, and their ideal learning
approach (collaborative or individual).
This is the stage of researching and gathering, and analyzing clear
knowledge about the problem. This helps us to give the problem
context so that we can identify with it easier.
In this stage, the learners investigate and research the background of the problem. They should
consider the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the background. Asking meaningful and
deliberate questions is key here. Authenticating and validating collected information is also important.
The students must have a clear and concise definition of the problem or task and should be able to
define the task to you clearly and easily.
Key Questions
Why is the problem
What is the background
of the problem?
Who are the stakeholders
in this problem?
Any problem that requires our learners’ attention will have a certain scope and significance that defines it. What makes this challenge
worthy of taking on? Why is it important to the person, the community, or the globe that a solution is produced and applied?
What has lead to this problem occurring? Has this problem occurred before, and if so, where and when? Who worked on this
problem in the past? What were the solutions they developed? Did they succeed or fail? What lessons can learners take from this?
Who will solving this problem help? Who and what will be positively affected?
Do they understand the
problem clearly?
If not, have them go back to it again. Every part of Solution Fluency is cyclical. We must always be reflective and evaluative in order to
identify weaknesses and correct them. This isn’t failure; it’s all part of the process.
Have they checked and
validated information?
Ensure learners go through the process of locating, analyzing, validating, and suitably citing the information they need.
Do students now have a clear understanding of the problem and its background? They should understand
the underlying processes and concepts and be ready to consider and design a solution in the next stages.
Here we open up the heart and mind to the possibilities and
visions of a solution the way we wish to see it. This phase is all
about imagination, extrapolation, and visualization.
This phase is the creative aspect where learners are challenged to consider the problem and visualize
a solution to it. We must be sure to cultivate this skill in our learners along with a capacity to judge
whether or not a task or solution is feasible. For a task or activity to be feasible, we must consider
each of the following:
• Is it suitable for the audience?
• Is it suitable for the purpose?
• Is it achievable with the available technology?
• Is it achievable within a given time frame?
• Is it achievable with their existing skill set or with skills they can develop in the time frame?
• Is it achievable with the existing budget?
Your learners have explored the background of the problem and collected/organized all information
about it that will help them design a solution. They have researched and developed an understanding
of the problem, who is affected, and why it is significant.
Key Questions
What do we want to
achieve in terms of a
How will we outline our
How will we challenge
our idea?
Is this a SMART Solution?
What’s our best idea for
a solution?
Using brainstorming, the students can outline their base knowledge, the development process, possible solutions, and
feasibility. What might work? What has been tried before, and was it successful? What lessons can be learned from this?
Can these lessons be used here?
Ask the six key questions again: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?
Is it feasible in terms of time, cost, skills, and technology? Does it suit the purpose? Does it suit the audience?
This is associated with goals and objectives, but also applies to the solution for our learning. SMART solutions are
specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Here the students should examine the feasibility of the solutions and then make a selection based on this. A solution should
be evaluated and considered, refined, challenged, and reconsidered.
Ensure that the students have visualized and agreed upon a solution that is feasible and SMART. The
solution should be within the abilities and constraints for the learners to develop and demonstrate. Assess
for their ability to respond to the key questions above.
This is basically the workshopping phase. Here the actual
mechanics of your solution begin to take shape. It involves
techniques that allow us to get the solution “on paper.”
Now the learners begin to hammer out the initial framework for the solution they are developing. The starting
points for this stage are our two key focal points again: the audience and the purpose. From there they can:
• Develop a suitable plan to achieve their goal
• Identify milestones they will work toward
• Assign team roles and delegate tasks
• Establish checkpoints by breaking their process into manageable steps
• Reflect on the solutions (suitability for purpose and audience, feasibility, practicality)
• Identify the critical information components
• Choose how to present their solution frameworks
The students have visualized and agreed upon a solution that is feasible and SMART. The solution is
within the abilities and constraints of the learners to develop and demonstrate.
Key Questions
What are the sequence
and timeline?
What are the project
For many learners, only stating the end point of a task makes it look unachievable. Breaking the task down into smaller
manageable components makes the project more viable. What are the key points or milestones on their journey towards
the solution? What has to be done and when must it be done?
This includes consideration of the following:
• Design components: Suitability for the audience and purpose, readability, legibility, use of colour, repetition, consistency,
pattern and contrast, etc.
• Information components: What information do the students need to complete this task? What sources do they access to
get this information? If research is an aspect of the task, how are the students addressing:
‣ Locating?
‣ Validating?
‣ Processing?
‣ Rewriting?
‣ Citing?
How are we assessing
this stage?
Formative assessment by the teacher is critical at this point. If your learners don’t get accurate and timely feedback, they
may attempt solutions that are inappropriate or unachievable. However, there is also value in allowing the students to make
mistakes and develop alternative solutions from this.
Learners have a workable plan for proceeding through the next stage. They have identified specific team roles,
established milestones and accountability measures, and have set norms for communicating and updating each
other on progress. They have a clear grasp of design components and information management for their ideas.
In this phase, there are two separate stages: Produce and Publish.
This involves the action for completing the product (Produce), and
presenting the proposed solution (Publish).
Learners can enter into the Deliver phase—the actual development stage of the task—once they have
a clear plan and design. The development of any solution will go through numerous phases before
reaching its final state.
Learners have designed a feasible solution that will suit the purpose and audience, and developed a
clear and achievable plan for producing it.
Key Questions
What is the information
What will the production
process look like?
The information component of development is vital. Your learners need to be able to ask meaningful essential questions and
structure/refine searches to obtain the best results. The key aspects of this are locating, validating, processing, rewriting,
and citing.
Production is a process of developing, reflecting, and refining. Development should be in small manageable steps or stages. The
setting of milestones makes this easier to achieve. With increased achievement, the students are better motivated and engaged.
More formal projects will often consist of informal testing followed up with three or more stages of formal testing:
• Technical testing: Does the product or solution work?
• Information testing: Is the information accurate, readable, and complete?
• End user testing: This is tested by the people or person that the solution is being developed for. Is it suitable for the target
audience and purpose?
How will reflection on the
production process
The students can use a blog to reflect and comment on their progress day-by-day. Blogs allow the teacher to maintain a level of
monitoring, as well as offering comments and suggestions as the project progresses.
The learners produce and apply a suitable solution to the problem. Sometimes it may not work, and this can be a
powerful learning experience involving useful failure. This is also a great time for students to practice peer review.
Ensure learners have clear guidelines about what is acceptable behaviour and what are appropriate comments to
make. Consistent moderation of the feedback by the teacher is also crucial.
This is the reflection stage where students get to own their
learning. They look at the ways they succeeded, and ways they
could improve their approach in similar future situations.
This is the final destination of any learning journey; an opportunity to reflect and learn. Both the learner and
teacher should reflect on what they learned, how it has been learned, and the relevance of the content,
processes, skills or techniques.
Remember to provide constructive and actionable feedback throughout the project process. This is
particularly relevant in projects stretching beyond one to two classes.
Depending on the age and maturity of the students, the teacher may be able to encourage and facilitate
peer feedback. Base this decision on the composition of the class, and the maturity of the students.
A degree of conflict between members of any group is to be expected. Building a base of expectations and
guidelines, as well as modelling and monitoring of behaviour, will make this process safe and appropriate.
The learners have demonstrated the application of a suitable and appropriate solution to the initial challenge.
They have revisited their process where necessary to adjust and refine their solution.
Key Questions
What was the
problem-solving process
like overall?
Did the solution suit the
purpose and audience?
Was the project suitable
for the learning outcomes?
This part of debriefing reflects on the task undertaken, the design that was developed, the solution it produced, how the process was
refined throughout, the challenges faced and the discoveries made, and the experiences of self- and peer-engagement.
Here the learners consider the end results of those all-important two questions we keep asking throughout the process. If not, what
could they have done differently?
Did it achieve knowledge outcomes, process outcomes, skills outcomes, curriculum objectives, and engagement objectives?
The debrief reflection leads to personal growth, and refinement of both the product and the process.
Learners have a thorough understanding of their best moments, as well as what they could have done
differently or better. They also consider how they can apply their solution to similar problems in the future.
Reference Tools
SF Quick Questions
What are the details of the challenge we face?
What do we want to overcome specifically?
What does it look like and how will we create it?
What are the milestones and guidelines we will set?
How will we ensure everything is done right and on time?
How will we deal with problems?
What do we need to know and what do we need
to be able to do?
Why do we need this to happen?
How do we bring this idea into functional reality?
Why hasn’t it been done previously?
How do we practically apply what we’ve done?
Understanding how to use Solution Fluency in a classroom setting means asking guiding
questions at every phase. Suggestions for each phase are listed below. Use these as quick
tools for reinforcing the crucial aspects of each stage of Solution Fluency.
What do we want to solve?
If it has, why wasn’t it successful?
What can we change?
How will we present this to people? How will we know
it’s working?
What do we truly want to create?
How did we succeed or fall short of our goal?
How will it function?
What went well, and what didn’t?
What will it look like?
What’s our best-case scenario for the end goal?
How can we improve our efforts and outcome in the
How can we apply what we’ve done to similar problems?
SF Process Graph
Solution Fluency is a cyclical process, not a linear one. It’s very common for your learners to have to revisit
previous stages of the process throughout their learning. Below is a chart indicating some of the ways in
which each stage of Solution Fluency is interconnected.
In the beginning journey of Solution Fluency, the first three phases of
DEFINE, DISCOVER, and DREAM are part of a dialogue which will
take learners back and forth between these phases. This is a period
of constant discussion, brainstorming, research, and refinement of
possibilities into what ultimately becomes their DREAM of a product
or a solution.
You can’t really have a DESIGN without a DREAM, so once learners
have dreamed up their ideal solution or product, the natural course is
to revisit the DEFINE stage to ensure what they’ve visualized answers
the original problem from the DEFINE stage. If it doesn’t, then they
can return to their initial dialogue between the first three phases.
During the DESIGN phase, both the DEFINE and DREAM phases are
a constant reference point. The DELIVER stage happens once the
product or solution is complete and ready to be applied to the
original context of the problem determined in the DEFINE stage.
In the end, once the solution is delivered, all the previous stages
become part of the DEBRIEF process.
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