Problem Solution Brainstorming
- Identify the text you would like to focus on. It should be a narrative or a history with a clear problem/solution inherent in its structure. Choose something unfamiliar to the students, so that they will not know the solution in advance.
- Identify a point in the story when readers have a clear understanding of the problem, but do not yet know the solution. Prepare copies of the text with this point clearly marked, or otherwise prepare to ensure that students read to this point and not beyond.
Teacher reviews the concept of problem/solution.
Discuss how problem/solution can help students recall sequence/chronology, and how it ties in to understanding character motivation/intention.
Students prepare to work individual or in pairs. Teacher distributes text to each student.
Give clear directions about how far students should read.
Students read through the first portion of the text.
Circulate among groups, asking students about what they are noticing and thinking. Ask them to think about the story from each character’s perspective, to think what each character wants, and what barriers prevent each character from getting what s/he wants.
Students think about the primary problem(s) in the text. Students describe them in writing.
Students can write either on regular notepaper, or on a graphic organizer. If you make a graphic organizer, make 1 box labeled “problem” 4 boxes labeled “my solutions” and 1 box labeled “the story’s solution.”
Students brainstorm 4 possible solutions to the identified problem. They write a paragraph describing each possible solution and why it might work.
Students finish reading the story. As they read, they look for the actual solution to the problem.
Students identify and describe the actual solution to the problem.
Teacher leads class in a discussion about the problem/solution of this story.
Students reflect on their learning alone or individually, orally or in writing.
Students should respond to questions including:
- How can this activity increase your understanding of characters?
- How can problems/solutions help you to understand what you are reading?
- How might thinking about problems/solutions make you care more about what you’re reading?
- When else might this activity be useful for you?