q Summer Institute

Real-World Problem Solving Institute Summer 2024

Young people face unprecedented challenges, from climate change, to the relentless pressures of social media, fueling rising depression and anxiety.  But there’s hope. Research shows that fostering student agency positively influences their perspectives; it contributes to student mental health and well-being. 

Together we will learn the Real-World Problem Solving Journey, and frameworks for critical thinking, collaboration and creativity that you can use in K – 12, across subject areas, all in curriculum-connected ways.

Join us for the Summer Institute on real-world problem solving because it develops the skills and mindsets students need for now and the future—make your classrooms and schools the place where students  learn the world can be different and that they can solve some of its most complex problems. Why? Because every young person deserves the tools to navigate life with resilience and purpose.

(And to make it even easier, you can add the Mini Challenge Kit resource)

Location: Downtown Toronto 
August 20th – 22nd

Tuesday, August 20, 2024 & Wednesday, August 21, 2024
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Coffee and lunch included

Thursday, August 22, 2024
9:30 a.m. – 12:00p.m., Breakfast included

Fee: $595 with discounts available for groups of 5 or more. Fee includes learning with I-Think Mentors, an I-Think Goodie Bag with Anchor Charts, meals, and templates to use in the classroom with students.

Mini Challenge Kit resources are an additional fee. Learn more here

In this hands-on series, you will:

  • Learn the Real-World Problem Solving Journey and practice the tools of Integrative Thinking that underpin it
  • Explore the theoretical underpinnings of the pedagogy
  • Hear from I-Think Mentors about their experiences with students and colleagues
  • Explore how you want to use the tools next school year
  • Have a real-world problem activity for your students to work through in the first 6 weeks of school (If you’re interested in pre-made resources, learn about Mini Challenge Kits!)

Course Outline

Introduction to Integrative Thinking
Get to know your learning partners as we introduce the Integrative Thinking process, real-world problem solving and mental models. 

Real-world problem solving with the Pro-Pro Chart
Problem solvers use the toolbox to make sense of tensions and reframe the problem in a new light. We wrestle with real-world tensions by diving deeper into a problem and its opposing models using the Pro-Pro Chart to define, articulate, examine our mental models.  

Critical thinking with the Ladder of Inference
We use the Ladder of Inference to make our and others thinking explicit and question that thinking. Developed by Chris Argyris, the Ladder of Inference breaks down how we build our models into data, interpretation and conclusion. 

Diving into complexity with the Causal Model
The Causal Model stops us from simplifying the problem and our thinking by embracing complexity. Inspired by systems thinking the Causal Model looks at the interconnections of cause and effect. 

The path to implementation
Learn how to apply the tools learned in this program to learning with students and colleagues year-round. Together, we’ll design a real-world problem for you to lead and solve in the first 6 weeks of school.

Meet Your


Nizam Hussain 

Nizam Hussain is the Vice-Principal at Donwood Park Public School in the Toronto DSB. Nizam deeply engaged students in real-world problem solving and has led several real-world problem solving journeys in her classroom including I-Think’s 100 Classroom Challenge!

“When my students made their real-world problem solving recommendations personal and connected them to things that they were interested in, it showed me they cared about the real-world challenge we were engaging in, and that learning was happening.”

Michael Marchione

Michael Marchione (he/him) is a K-8 educator, mental health advocate, son, brother, and husband. Michael works for the Halton District School Board and has recently been working with Brock University’s Faculty of Education. Michael began his I-Think journey in 2018 at a workshop, and has been an I-Think Mentor and Facilitator the last few years. When he isn’t teaching, Michael enjoys hiking, reading, spending time with friends and family, and cuddling his cat Klaus!

“Integrative Thinking is more than a tool – it centres humanity at the core of having crucial conversations and engaging in deep learning. In a world filled with tensions and diverse mental models, Integrative Thinking encourages us to pause, reflect, ask questions, and reexamine our own understanding of the world. I feel these skills and strategies are essential not only in education but in our day to day. By far one of the most useful and engaging learning I have ever done.”

Erin Quinn

Erin Quinn is the Vice-Principal at Glenview Senior Public School in the Toronto DSB. She has taught grades 1-8 at the Toronto DSB since 2007 at Park Lawn JMS and Lambton-Kingsway JMS. She began her I-Think journey during a one-day “Introduction to Integrative Thinking” in June 2014.

“The thing I loved most about my Integrative Thinking classroom was that I had the tools available for students so that they can make their thinking visible. Many of my students struggled to explain what they are thinking and with access to the tools of Integrative Thinking they are able to explain themselves more clearly. This has, in turn, allowed students to feel more confident in themselves and how they express themselves.”

Jason Watt

Jason Watt is a K-8 educator who is currently teaching Grade 5 at Norseman Junior Middle School in the TDSB. He has been teaching for 15 years, and has worked at numerous schools such as Hilltop Middle School, C.R. Marchant Middle School, Dixon Grove and more. He began his I-Think journey in the Fall of 2014 through a 3-day introduction program, and has since become an I-Think Mentor and Facilitator for the past few years. He is a lifelong learner, loves to play sports, and spending time with his family.

“I love that Real-World Problem Solving gives students an authentic and rich problem that requires students to really dig deep in order to find a solution. I love seeing the confidence that my students gain when they realize that they are more capable than they think.”

Hear from Community

Make your classroom the place students learn that the world can be different and that they can solve some of its most complex problems.

“My mindset after Integrative Thinking was always to think outside of what was given to me, not outside of the box…but outside of how other people think I need to understand the world.”

– Sakaana, Grade 12 student

“I don’t always write out a full Pro-Pro Chart, but I would use it in my head. It became a more natural way of thinking, trying to look at both sides.”

– Aaliyah, Grade 8 student

“It helped me transform my thinking process. Before I learned the Ladder of Inference, I would just jump to conclusions. After learning Integrative Thinking, I would use all the information in my data pool instead of assuming.”

– Cayla, Grade 6 student


Sharron Rosen and Laura Frew were seeking new ways to bring the lived experiences of their students into the classroom. They hadn’t anticipated that their students’ thinking would lead a culture shift in their school community.

Watch Sharron, Laura and principal Cassandra Alviani-Alvarez reflect on the impact of Integrative Thinking on their school community in the 5-minute video below. Read more about Fairbanks’ shift in school culture here.

Yes! Kindergarten students are capable and see possibility everywhere. Integrative Thinking provided the framework for Rachael Chang to re-frame a daunting tension into a meaningful student-led inquiry. Watch her reflection in the 7-minute video below, and learn more about Rachel’s snail challenge here.

In 12th grade, Sakaana Yasotharan participated in a 6-week Integrative Thinking project that had a lasting impact on her mindset. Read more about why the project was meaningful to Sakaana here. In the 7-minute video below, Sakaana shares the journey of her mindset shift and the impact of the project at a People for Education conference.

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