Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Main Idea: Problem/Solution (Lesson 11)

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Lesson Objective

Some texts have a problem/solution organization. Authors use this structure when the main idea is about a problem in the world and how it can be fixed.

Lesson Plan

Lesson 11:

Standard: Identify and use knowledge of the organizational structure of a text: main idea and supporting examples (web), chronological order (chain), compare and contrast (T-chart), cause and effect (chain), problem/solution (T-chart).

Use text structure to identify the main idea and supporting details in articles.


Big Idea:  Writers help their readers understand the text by organizing their text in logical ways so readers read non-fiction texts differently, depending on their structure.

Writers write non-fiction to teach the reader about one main idea.  It is the job of a reader to figure out the main thing that the writer is trying to teach you.  You can use the organizational structure to figure out the main idea in nonfiction.   


Teaching Point: Some texts have a problem/solution organization.  Authors use this structure when the main idea is about a problem in the world and how it can be fixed.

You can outline this as a T-chart.


Reading binders, highlighters and pencils, copies of “Empty Bellies”  


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • [Orally quiz on the organizational structures that we have learned.]
  • Today we are going to learn about a new organizational structure – problem/solution.  Problem solution structures are used for just what it sounds like they would be used for – when the author wants to tell about a problem and the solution or solutions to that problem.  Obviously there are problems in the world and nonfiction writers definitely want to write about the problems in the world and what can or should be done to solve those problems so this is an organizational structure that authors use to show their readers about those problems and their solutions.
  • Today we are going to read a problem/solution text and outline it.  We haven’t ever taught you much about problem/solution nonfiction texts in earlier grades, but the outline will look familiar to you – we can outline problem solution using a T-chart.  We will use what we know about the problem and the solution to come up with the main idea.
  •  [Pass out “Empty Bellies.”]  What should we do first?
    • Read the title. 
    • Look at the pictures throughout the article and read the captions.  Notice other text features – map of world hunger.  Read maps and look at all the labels.  Text box – looks interesting and we’ll definitely read that at the end. 
    • What will this be about? 
    • Let’s start to make our outline now.  Make your page look exactly like my easel does – follow carefully because this is new.






World hunger













  • Notice that I wrote the problem under the word problem.  I didn’t do that for solution because I can tell from the subtitle and pictures what the problem is, but I don’t know about the solution yet.  The main idea of problem/solution texts is normally that there is a problem and that it needs to be solved.  For instance, I bet this article has the main idea, “Hunger is a problem across the world and we should work to fix it.”
  • Now let’s read the introduction –the part before the first heading.  [Talk about the fact that these questions are just to hook our interest – the main idea probably isn’t the answer to these questions because we think the main idea is about world hunger]  Wow!  That was some important information.  Do we have a main idea?  It seems like our prediction was right, but I don’t see a sentence that clearly shows a main idea so I will wait to write that up until the end of the article.
  • Did we learn anything about the problem yet?  Yes!  We learned more about world hunger so we are going to bullet that information in the problem side of our T-chart. 
  • So now we are going to read each section.  At the end of each section, we will think about what we learned about the problem or the solution and we will add that to our T-chart.  Remember that the heading helps us figure out the most important things.  So let’s think about each heading before we read each section. 
    • After each of the three headings, you can either just ask them to think or have them tell you what they should focus on in each section.  After each section, stop, T&T, and then add things to the T-chart.
    • So readers, why did this author use a problem/solution organization?  [They wanted to tell the reader all about the problem of hunger and talk about some ways that the problem could be solved.]
    • So now can we figure out the main idea.  T&T.  [A billion people across the world are hungry, and help with farming and donations are needed to solve the problem.]  Let’s fill that in the main idea box. 
    • Readers, I want you to continue the outlines you’ve been working on or start a new one for a new text today.  If you have any questions about what to do today, just stay on the rug and I will talk to you before you go off. 
    • [Share – meet in partners and show your partner your outline.]

Lesson Resources

Lesson 11 Non-fiction Chart.docx  


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