Lesson: Squashed in the Middle - Elizabeth Winthrop: Problem and Solution

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify the problem and solution and be able to analyze how story events lead from problem to solution.

Lesson Plan

Objective:  Students will be able to identify the problem and solution and be able to analyze how story events lead from problem to solution.


Lesson Plan


Key Vocabulary:  problem, solution, details, character, setting, analyze, connect.


DO NOW (10 minutes):  What is a problem that you can identify in the world today?  What are some steps toward a solution?


Opening:  Yesterday we did a really great job identifying some of the major elements of stories.  Today, we are going to continue working with the problem and solution of a story.  We will learn a couple strategies to help us uncover those two crucial elements as we read as well as get more practice finding the solutions to the problems in our books.


Direct Instruction (I DO): 

Read Aloud:  Model thinking aloud skills, question while you read and make a big deal when you find those answers to you questions in your reading.  Model the skill of finding the problem and solution of a story.  Think that that for the students so they understand what they will be doing today in independent reading time.


Teacher should remind student of the updated “Story Elements” Chart.



Mini-Lesson:  After reading the story

Model finding the problem of the story. 


Good readers identify the problem of a story by asking themselves what is the struggle or issue in the story?”


PROBLEM:  Have students come up with their own definitions for Problem - share out!


In order to model identifying the problem, continue to ask yourself what the struggle is until it is found.  Highlight this with a post-it marked problem.


Good readers also identify the solution to the problem.  Readers ask themselves continuously throughout the book, “How does the problem in the story get solved” or “What is the solution to the problem?”


SOLUTION:  Have students come up with their own definition for Solution – share out!


Model finding the solution in the story.



Guided Practice (WE DO): 

How is it that I know and can prove the problem and solution within our story?




In order to find these parts of the story, I need to ask myself, “What are some of the clues the author used that might help us infer what the problem and solution were in the story. 


Use the “Stepping Stone” sheet to help with this.  (see attached file)


Explain that problem and solution are like a bunch of stepping stones in a river to get to the other side:

Have students turn and talk about how this stepping stone analogy helps to illustrate this concept:

What is the problem?

Problem – you are trying to get to the other side


What is the solution?

Solution – you got to the other side


What do the stepping stone represent?

*How did this happen?  The stones, they were steps to the solution, or steps to getting to the other side.  Same with any problem or solution; there are steps to getting there.


Complete the sheet together and explain that they will be using this in Independent reading time for their practice.


Independent Practice (YOU DO):


Students should use the “Stepping Stone” Sheet to identify the problem and solution for their independent reading book. 




Students will also need sticky notes to help label the problem, steps to the solution, and the solution of their books.

 After completing, students should be given the opportunity to journal about using the skills learned today:

What would the story be like without a problem or solution?
Did the Stepping Stone strategy help you to identify the problem and solution? Why or why not?
What is a problem and a solution scenario that you can identify in your own life or in another book you have read? 

Closing:  Group should come back together to talk about what they found in their own books and their experiences with the strategy.

Lesson Resources

Lesson 78   Lesson Plan
Lesson 78 STEPPING TO A SOLUTION   Classwork
Squashed in the Middle


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