Lesson: Non-fiction Text Structures: Main Idea: Problem/Solution (Lesson 13)

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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 13:

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 “Poop Power”  

Note: "Poop Power" is from the July 2009 edition of Appleseed magazine

RA: Reading binders, copy of The Great Serum Race by Debbie S. Miller


Reading Workshop Lesson:

  • [[Orally quiz on the organizational structures that we have learned.]
  • Today we are going to continue talking about the problem/solution organizational structure.  Remind me why an author would use a problem/solution organization?
  • Today you are going to get a chance to practice making a problem/solution T-chart outline for a different text.  
  •  [Pass out “Poop Power”]  What should we do first?
    • Read the title. 
    • Look at the pictures throughout the article and read the captions. 
    • What will this be about? 
    • Let’s start to make our outline now.




















  • I notice that there aren’t any headings so I guess I will just stop as I am reading because the author didn’t tell me where to stop.  Scholars, I want you to help me look for important information by noticing what the problem is or any information about the problem or noticing any  information about the solution. 
  • In this first paragraph, did we learn about the problem?  [yes – cow gas contributes to global warming.  Let’s write that in the T-chart]  Did we learn anything else [yes – we actually already learned the solution – when cow gas is burned, it creates usable energy.]  Add anything else they notice to T-chart.
  • Stop after each paragraph and add things to T-chart.  This article is tricky and goes back and forth between problems with cow poop and solutions to these problems – individual paragraphs might require several rereading to get them to totally understand it – that’s fine because it’s short and so the lesson shouldn’t be too long, even if we reread a lot.
  • Now that we have our outline, let’s think of the main idea of this article.  T&T and then discuss until you get something close to “Cow gas can contribute to global warming, but farmers can also use it to make energy and fertilizer.”  Readers, does this main idea have to do with a problem and a solution?  Yup, that’s why the author used a problem/solution organization.
  • Readers, keep working on those outlines.  Please remember that I need an outline for every book before you change to a new one.
  • [Share – meet in partners and show your partner your outline.]



Read Aloud Lesson: Continued from Lesson 12

  • Readers, last time in read aloud we started reading the book The Great Serum Race, which is a problem/solution text. Remember that this book looks different from other problem/solution texts. For one thing, it sounds like a story told in chronological order. Why did we decide to outline this book as a problem/solution text rather than a sequence text? [Call on a student to explain that since the main idea is connected to a problem and how it was solved, it’s a problem/solution text.] We’ll keep outlining this book on our T chart, keeping in mind that our list of events should also be in order.
  • Yesterday we filled in the problem section of the T chart. Today I’m going to give you a chance to remind your partner what problems the people in The Great Serum Race faced. [T&T] Today we are going to start looking for information about how the people of Alaska solved the problem of getting the serum to Nome.
  • Start reading where you left off. Notice and add the first solution:  They decide to send the serum by train to Nenana and then the rest of the way by dogsled. 
  • Read the next page.  Stop at the end of the page.  Anything important here?  Bill Shannon and his dogs picked up the serum from Nenana to take it 700 miles.  Maybe write that now, maybe wait until we see if they were successful – let the kids decide if we should write it yet.  Was there anything important in the first paragraph?  Was there anything important about Alfred John and his family?  It doesn’t seem so.  Maybe they will become important later on.  Or maybe they are just there to show that people cared about this serum issue.
  • Continue reading, stopping to clarify some words (bear hide, malamutes, mushers, etc.)
  • Read the first sentence of the next page – “Hundreds of miles…”  Stop after this sentence.  Wait, I am confused.  I thought the book was about the serum and the serum is with Bill.  Why did this sentence move to hundreds of miles away?  Read the rest of the page.  So why is this part here?  I guess this part is happening at the same time that Bill is leaving Nenana and taking the serum toward Nome.  This team with Togo and Leonhard Seppala is going to meet the serum at Nulato. Should we write this down?  Probably not because we are thinking about the serum getting to Nome, but this seems like we should remember it in our heads because this team will show up later in the book.
  • On the next page that starts “In Tolovana” – stop after the first sentence.  So are we changing settings again!  Now we are in some town named Tolovana.  Why did it jump to this setting?  Hopefully they noticed that this musher is waiting for Bill Shannon, who we know has the serum. 
  • Read the rest of the page.  Should we add anything on this page? 
  • Read the next page.  Should we add anything?  Yes, maybe put “Many mushers passed along the serum” in the solution section. 
  • We’ll finish this problem/solution text and complete our T-chart tomorrow.


Lesson Resources

Lesson 13 Non-fiction Chart.docx  


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