Today I am going to explain how I came up with the basic visual model of Wholistic Problem Solving. This visual model that I have created, which has become the unifying feature of both the dynamic and formal features of the program has evolved slowly over time from my experience working with students.
The model represents all the basic types of thinking that exist in relation to problem solving. This is much easier than it sounds. Primarily because I have been using various forms of a meta-cognitive modelling to communicate thinking to students for over 15 years. In the beginning I had used the exact cognitive ladder model that I was introduced to by Joe Arsenault and Dr. Webb at Curry College's revered Program for the Advancement of Learning. Later, I began using a poster I received at an in-service that had the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy on it.
However, the problem with both of these models was that they clearly had average functioning college educated individuals in mind when they were developed. I worked with neurologically impaired elementary and middle school students. To make such a conceptualization work for my students, I needed to added a few levels. Primarily these were lower levels. I realized my students needed to understand the most basic thinking structures of attention and sensory thinking, even more than high level structures like analyzing, because these areas were frequently the core areas their disability manifested.
When I first started working to develop a meta-cognitive program with students, my primary goal was finding ways to teach students, so that they could comprehend their own disabilities. The idea behind developing a visual structure was based on the need to streamline the presentation of information on these neurological structures of thinking so it could be better comprehended by school age children.
As I went back to organize and improve upon my meta-cognitive instruction I realized that what I was doing really something much different than what Bloom or Webb. Possibly due to the fact that I saw these taxonomic structures more as tools to promote thinking rather than simply explain thinking. I was trying to both represent the functions of the mind and teach them as useful mechanisms at the same time. I was trying to develop in my students a functional theory of mind that they could use to help explain, to themselves, their own unique style of learning and comprehend the learning style of others. Once developed, the student would possess both a systematic approach and a schema to break down and attack problems with the fullest force of their mind.
With this realization I renamed and rework each of the levels so that they would do exactly what I needed them to do in the classroom. I was now able to both teach and direct meta-cognitive thinking within a unified framework that could be related to all parts of the curriculum and personal experience. I used the expression of biological strengths and weaknesses to further isolate distinct thinking processes from the procedures and techniques used to express that type of thinking. In other words, if a thinking process could not be represented as having biological strengths and weaknesses then it was not a process, but rather a technique used by the process. This helped to clarify the structure and sub structure of the new system.
As I began using this new system, that I now call Wholistic Problem Solving, I was amazed how much it helped improve the clarity and focus of my meta-cognitive lessons, as well as my general curriculum lessons. It helped to change the language and tenor of the entire class by creating a structure for dealing with all sorts of problems, whether they were academic, emotional or social. For the first time I truly had a meta-cognitively based classroom. Every aspect of education improved markedly from behavior to test scores.
The problem solving nature of the classroom enabled the students to become more flexible and understanding of themselves and each other. I began to see students in this classroom grow academically, socially, and emotionally; surprisingly faster than I have ever seen before in a class.
 Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals; Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York, Longmans, Green, 1956.
 Webb, G. (1989). Tuning in to Learning. Waltham, Massachusetts 1989.