Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.
Finding the Problem and Solution
An important element of your students' reading comprehension is finding the problem and solution in a story. This can be done in many different ways. The following activities will help you teach your students methods for identifying and analyzing the problem and solution in stories.
This activity will work best as a way to introduce the topic to your students. Choose a book that you think will interest your students, and model how to stop and think about the text. When you get to the problem of the story, pause and ask students to help you identify the problem. On an anchor chart with two columns labeled Problem and Solution, write the problem that the students helped you identify. Continue reading until you get to the solution, and have students help you identify the solution for the second column.
Using their independent reading book, have your students write and illustrate the problem and solution of their book. This can be done on two separate pieces of paper. Have your students display their problem and solution sets around the classroom for a gallery walk. Other students can ask them about the book and their problem and solution set. Afterwards, debrief with your students and ask them about the experience of seeing each other's work.
Find a Better Solution
You can do this activity with either students' independent reading books or your class read aloud book. Have students identify the problem and solution of the book. Then, ask them to try and figure out a better solution for the characters. Students should write a better solution, and explain why they think that solution is better.
Problem and Solution Puzzle
Explain to your students that the problem and solution of a story should fit together like a puzzle. Have students create their own problem and solution puzzle. Their puzzle can be two pieces of paper that students cut to look like two puzzle pieces that fit together. Students draw the problem and solution on the puzzle pieces, using their independent reading books. You may consider having students display them around the classroom and doing a gallery walk to explore each other's work.
Write Your Own
Have your students generate a list of problems that might happen to characters in a book. Your students can choose one of the problems and create a solution for that problem. They can then write a story around that problem and solution set. Have your students share their stories with a small group. You might consider extending this activity by having students make their stories into a book and illustrate the story.
Using several fairy tales, have your students identify the problem and solution of the stories. Create a class graphic organizer with the problems and solutions of 5-6 fairy tales that your students are familiar with. In small groups, have your students discuss the similarities and differences they are noticing between the different fairy tales. You can extend this activity by having students write a paragraph explaining the most important similarities and differences they notice.
This activity would work best for literature activities. Have each group create puppets of the characters in their book. Have students work together to create a scene that shows the problem and solution in their book. After they've made a scene that shows the real problem and solution of the book, your students can create an additional scene showing an alternate solution to the problem.
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