Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Main Idea: Problem/Solution (Lesson 12)

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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 12: (Continued from 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 Workshop: Reading binders, highlighters and pencils, copies of “Empty Bellies”  

Read Aloud: Reading binders, The Great Serum Race by Debbie S. Miller



Reading  Workshop Lesson: 

  • Readers, we just started working on problem/solution texts. We learned that authors write problem/solution texts to tell about a problem in the world and the solutions to that problem. Today we are going to re-read the problem/solution article that we read yesterday, “Empty Bellies,” to look for evidence for this open response question. [put up OR topic.]
  • How many parts does the question have? (2) What are the 2 parts going to be? How are we going to label those parts in our evidence (a and b maybe)?
  • Re-read to find, highlight, and label evidence.
  • Brainstorm possible topic sentences for each paragraph.
  • As a class, write an open response that provides details about the problem and the solution.
  •  [Share – meet in partners and show your partner your outline.]



Read Aloud Lesson:


  • Scholars, we have been working on problem/solution text structures. [Call on a student to explain when an author uses a problem/solution text structure and how we outline texts with a problem/solution organization.]
  • For each structure we’ve learned, we have been reading many different texts. I want to show you as many different texts as possible because I want you to know that even if two texts have the same structure, they can be very different. So today, we are going to read a book that has a problem/solution organization. When you first look at it, it might not look like a problem/solution text. It might not even look like a non-fiction text! The book is called The Great Serum Race.
  • Look at the cover and see if they know anything about dog sleds. 
  • Scholars, this is a book that is telling about an event from history and it will tell the events in order so that we as readers can follow what happens.  My first thought is that we are going to organize this as a sequence because the order matters, so we will be making a chain. There aren’t chapters or headings in this book so we will have to figure out on our own when an important event happens and write it down.
  • [Look at the map on the first page.  See if they know this is a map of Alaska.  If they do, see what they know about Alaska.]
  • [Read the introduction.  After reading that, what will this whole book be about?  T&T.  Call on kids until you are sure that they all know that this book will focus on one run – when Togo had to do something to help the town of Nome one winter.] Scholars, I want to change my thinking. We’ve predicted that the main idea is going to be about a problem in Nome and how Togo helps to solve it. I think that this is a problem/solution structure. We could make a chain and we would still be able to understand the events in the book, but I think that if we really want to show that we understand that this is a problem/solution text, we should make a T chart. The only important thing to remember is that when we list details about the problem and solution, we should pay attention to the order. [Write up a T chart]
  • Read the first page.  Is there anything super important that happened yet?  Do we know why Nome needed help?  Maybe it’s because of this diphtheria.  So should we add this to our T chart?  Probably – in 1925, a few kids in Nome got sick and died from diphtheria. 
  • Stop after the first paragraph (after “stay in their homes.”)  What is a quarantine?  Read that sentence again.  Let me reread this paragraph and figure it out.  T&T and tell your partner what a quarantine is.
  • Stop at the end of the page.  Do we need to write anything down?  Yup, they asked people in Juneau to send serum, which must be a kind of medicine.  Let’s write that in the problem section of our T chart. 
  • Stop after first paragraph on third page of text.  What were the problems with getting the serum to Nome?  Why can’t they just fly it there?  T&T – reread if necessary.  Why can’t they take the train there?  T&T.  Why can’t they take a boat there?  T&T.  Why can’t they drive there?  It doesn’t say, but I assume in that time period, there weren’t roads in most of Alaska.  Add to problem section of T chart.
  • Read the next paragraph.  Wow.  It looks like this paragraph tells us about another problem.  It is hard to get the serum to Nome, and now we know that the serum also can’t freeze.  It seems like that will be really hard to do if they are going to travel outside on dog sleds.  [add to problem side of T chart]
  • Scholars, it looks like the people of Alaska faced a lot of problems in the first part of this book. Tomorrow we’ll read the end of the book and learn how they solved those problems.



Lesson Resources

Lesson 12 Non-fiction Chart and Open Response.docx  


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