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Problem Solution


Many real and fictional narratives can be understood as an initial problem and a subsequent solution. Students trying to grasp novels and history often need to think through the lens of problem and solution in order to make sense of the series of events.


By considering series of events through a framework of problem/solution, students are able to appreciate the logic of events and their sequence. They often are able to understand the motivations of the actors, and to become emotionally invested in the outcomes. As a result, considering the problems and solutions involved in history and in novels helps students to understand and to better remember narratives.

Content Area Adaptations 

The problem/solution skill is most relevant when students are studying narratives or historical events, either factual or fictional. It could also be used to increase understanding of the stories behind scientific or mathematical discovery.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Metacognition
  • Questioning
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.3
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.1

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Numeracy
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Prewrite Questions

In this activity students survey the text and create questions they think the text was designed to answer. During reading, students will try to answer their questions. The questions help set a purpose for reading. This activity works particularly well with non-fiction texts.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Launching Into New Content

Memory Bubbles

Memory bubbles are a type of concept mapping, in which students record and organize the people, problems, solutions, and resulting changes associated with key ideas in a reading. Students generally create between one and five memory bubbles for a given reading, one for each key idea that is associated with a problem/solution relationship. This...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Pyramid Diagram

This activity helps students to identify appropriate and important information from a text to be analyzed, and then guides them towards considering implications and effects of this information. They create a four-layer pyramid that can be used as a template for writing a summarizing paragraph. The top layer is a title, below the title is a...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis