Throughout the morning, I move students desks around right in the middle of lessons. I choose students that are getting in their desks or talking. I am not trying to punish anyone, but I want to make the class aware that something is going on. While I am teaching if a student begins to chat, I walk up to them with out missing a step, take the desk and move it forward. I also choose other students to move desks. I try to keep it to those I need to move anyway. I do this multiple times and give no reason for doing it.
This is the set up for today's problem and solution lesson. They do not realize that this is all for a lesson. The best part is, I am sure they think I am losing it. That or grouchy because I seem to just move kids around.
Now that I am ready for the actual lesson, and I have moved about five desks, I ask the class to answer some questions. The first one I ask is if they realize what I was up to with moving the desks. Some students start to try to put together the talking or disruptive behavior. I always refer to the desks and do not use individual student's names. This is not a punishment, but a thinking activity. Keeping it related to the desks, makes the activity non-personal.
The creativity begins to flow with them trying to figure this all out.
I then ask, if I did move the desks for disputing, it is because it was a what? I am looking for them to identify the disruptive behavior for my problem. What ever they try to guess it needs to fit and be reasonable. This feels like a game and the guessing continues.
Students finally determine that my moving the desks was to fix a problem. Now that we have made this connection I ask them for a better word then "fix." They quickly come up with solution.
I create a T chart on the white board and take the words problem and solution and make them the titles of the sections. I ask the students to do the same on their white boards.
Once the titles have been written, I ask them to write one problem on the corresponding side. This can be any problem they have or a problem that they know some people have. I give them about 45 seconds to jot down a quick idea.
They now need to pass their white board to their elbow partner. After each of them swap boards, I ask the partner to write down a good solution to their partner's problem and also write a new problem on their partner's board. I give them about a minute to write both of these parts.
Students now need to swap boards again. They now need to write another solution. Every student should have two problems and two solutions on their white board.
I give the class a few seconds to read their completed white board and the two sides. I then ask them to share out to the class some problems and solutions. The trick to them sharing is they can not read their problem. If called on, the student has to give their partner's problem and their partner gives the solution they came up with.
The class came up with some pretty clever problems and solutions. One student claimed their little brother was a problem; solution given was to kick him. I am not sure this was the best, but fourth graders definitely got there. I did like that one student gave their problem and the class offered to help her right away. Really glad this happened, restores my faith from the kicking earlier.
To take the activity to text, I am going to read aloud to them. After I read, they will use their white board again to complete the problem and solution the author gives.
The book I chose is Mean Jean the Recess Queen, by Alexis O'Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith. It is a story about a recess bully and how she turns herself around. I ask them to listen carefully and the read the story all the way through.
When I finish I ask them to complete the activity of writing the problem and solution on their white board. Not one student had trouble filling out their board and had something to put down from the story. I then ask students to share only the problem and then we move to the solution. Students have pretty much the same thing on all of their boards.
To discuss the importance of problem and solution, I ask the class why being able to figure out problem and solution can help our understanding of the text. This is a good discussion and they are making some good points and most of all I am using this as a gauge of how much they understand the lesson objective.
I point out the purpose of this text structure is to find the problem and then try to figure out if the author gives is the solution or if it can be solved. I think it is also critical to point out how this is different from cause and effect. My example is that I brush my teeth everyday, the result is my teeth stay cavity free. I explain that this is cause and effect. A problem will always have a solution.
To complete the discussion I ask a few more questions. Here are the following questions I asked:
1. Are there any other solutions to the problem in our book?
2. Who worked to solve the problem?
3. What caused the problem?