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Student problem-solving strategy: Flip It!

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Student problem-solving strategy: Flip It!

Flip It is a great strategy for both students and adults! Turn negative thoughts into positives, and end with specific action steps for improvement.

Learn more in this video or read the transcript below.

What it is

Flip It is a strategy from

The purpose is to create a change in perspective, to take what are viewed as challenges, and “flip” to see them as actionable opportunities instead.


To prepare, you will want to choose a focus topic, something that applies to the future. For example, math skills, collaborative work, or a specific challenge you are facing as a class.

On chart paper or a whiteboard (somewhere you will have a lot of space) write three headings: “FEAR” “HOPE” and “ACTION”.

Give your students plenty of sticky notes.

Process and Examples

Give students sticky notes and instruct them to spend about 5 minutes writing down all of their fears, concerns, or problems related to your chosen topic.

Collect all the sticky notes on the board under the “fear” heading. Discuss students’ fears, ask for clarification or elaboration as needed.

Next, ask students to look at the “fears” and try to “flip” these perspectives by reframing the fear as a hope. For example, if a student has a fear about speaking up during collaborative group work, they could rewrite this as a hope stating: “I will share my ideas with my group and they will listen respectfully.”

Add these new sticky notes under the “HOPE” section on the board. Again, discuss what students wrote and ask for clarification or elaboration.

After discussing the hopes, ask students to “vote” on which hopes they think they can take action on. You could do this by having students make a checkmark next to the sticky note or by raising their hands to vote.

Next, move the “hope” sticky notes with the most votes to the top of the “action” section of the board.

Finally, ask students to brainstorm specific actions they can take to make each of these hopes a reality. Add these sticky notes to the action board and discuss them as a class.

For example, students might identify “we will work better as a team” as a hope with a specific action step of choosing specific tasks for each team member to complete. Or, limiting off-topic conversations to 10% of talk.


Consider having students work in teams throughout this process, to generate the best ideas and reduce redundancy.

You may also want to group the sticky notes into similar ideas or categories throughout the process to help clarify and streamline ideas.

For non-reading and writing students, this activity could be done as a whole-class discussion. Modeling the thinking process and providing examples will also help students generate appropriate, thoughtful ideas.

Engage digitally using collaboration tools like Padlet or Jamboard. In Padlet, students can post digital sticky notes on a shared board divided into different topics. There are also options to vote, like, or comment on each other’s posts.

Try it out this week for more positive thinking and improved problem-solving skills in your classroom!

Like these ideas? To learn classroom engagement strategies that make the most immediate impact, we recommend checking out our program, "Fostering Student Engagement."

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Amy Jimenez

Author Since: May 8, 2018

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