What's the problem?

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SWBAT identify the problem and its solution after listening to a story.

Big Idea

So ... did they fix it? An important element of a story plot is a problem and it's solution. Identifying these is a way in which students can demonstrate comprehension.


5 minutes

In this lesson I wanted my students to focus on the plot of the story, in particular in the problems and their solution. I began by telling them that we all have problems, some large and some small; and that we find ways to fix them by ourselves or with help. I shared a couple of problems and solutions I had found for them. In the resource section, they are sharing some of their problems. Then I told them that what made books interesting was that the authors shared problems and solutions with us. This was just a short conversation that will continue through the year. I explained that when we read the next story, I wanted them to think about what problem the characters had, and how they solved it. This was a different task that the ones we had had previously when I had asked them to focus on story structure; for example beginning, middle and end. 

Guided practice

15 minutes


RL.1.2 requires students to 're-tell stories, including key details and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson". If you look at this standard across the grades, you see how important it is for students to be able to determine the central part of the story, whether it be the central message, lesson, or moral in second and third grades; the theme in 4th, 5th and 6th. This makes it very important for first graders to be able to determine the problem and solution in a story, as a stepping stone to determining messages and themes later on.  The corresponding College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard requires them to determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development. Analyzing the events of a text to identify the problems facing a character and the way in which the character tries to solve the problem is one approach to addressing this standard.  Asking relevant questions during and after the reading also addresses RL 1.3. (Describe characters, setting, and major events in a story, using key details), focusing in this case on major events. 

I wanted to move towards getting my students used to discuss problems and solutions in stories, and this lesson was intended to be an introduction to the skill. This lesson can be done with any story and adjusted to fit with any pacing chart, adopted materials or theme. I used the story that we were reading that week in the adopted anthology. I asked my students to read it once independently and then we read it chorally. When we finished the reading, I gave them a couple of minutes to think about what the problem was and to share it with their neighbor. Then I modeled how to report the problem and solution and created the form in the resource section. We completed this one together. 


Independent work

I wanted my students to work independently in identifying the problem and solution. My goal was to see whether they could reproduce the type of report I had done in the guided portion of the lesson, and to take their work home to see what their basic understanding was after this lesson, and plan further lessons for this standard. I assigned it as work during independent activity time while I read with small groups. An alternative would have been to circulate monitoring and assisting. Another alternative would have been to have them do this work during the small group meetings. 


5 minutes

At the end of the day, I told my students that the "ticket out the door" was to tell me a problem in a story. It could be from any book they had listened to or read. This is a quick way to assess if the majority of the class got the message of the lesson (or if there is a problem!).