Determining problem and solution is one of those skills that is addressed in just about every grade over the course of each year. Beginning in 4th grade, students are expected to “Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.” CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.5. This concept is extended to finding the problem and solution within 2 texts in 5th grade, and continues to be addressed throughout a student’s school career.
Problems and solutions within texts are sometimes explicitly stated, and sometimes they have to be inferred. Making inferences is a skill that many students struggle with, and some students even struggle with identifying problems that have been stated explicitly. Fortunately, there are many ways that we can help our speech students with problem and solution, all while working on speech goals!
Why Teach Problem and Solution?
We teach problem and solution because it helps students dig deeper into the text. They can put themselves in a character’s shoes and think about what they would do or how they would feel if they were in that character’s position. This helps students to not only read the words on the page but to gain a better understanding of the situations happening in the story.
Finding the Problem
If the problem in a text is not explicitly stated, there are some questions that you can ask your students to help them find the problem. These include:
- What made the character or characters upset?
- How did the story change for the characters?
- What went wrong in the story? How did this make the character or characters feel?
- Could the problem have not happened? How or why?
By using these questions, you can work on speech goals in several areas. Asking these questions aloud and letting the student answer orally can help them to work on articulation, answering “wh” questions, voice, pragmatics, narrative development, and fluency.
Finding the Solution
Once the student has found the problem in a passage, then they must find the solution or solutions that are given. One way to do this is to ask questions like the following:
- What did the character or characters do to solve the problem?
- How did they solve the problem?
- How would you have solved the problem if you were in this story?
- Did they try any solutions that did not work? If so, why did these not work?
When determining the solution or solutions to the problem in the text, students can work on the following speech skills:
- Articulation by answering these questions and talking through the solutions orally.
- Receptive language skills like answering questions by writing down, highlighting, or circling the solutions to the problem.
- Completing a sort of problems and solutions can work on expressive language and pragmatic goals like inferencing.
Determining Pros and Cons
Sometimes, more than one solution to a problem is presented in a story. The student may have to determine the best solution or decide what they would do in a character’s situation. To do this, the student can list or discuss the possible solutions and decide what the pros and cons of each solution are. This discussion or writing activity can address goals in the areas of expressive language, articulation, conversation, and narrative development. Then, the student can decide what solution is the best one for the problem presented in the story.
I hope you found this helpful and if you need more ideas on how to teach problem and solution in speech, then check out my no-prep problem-and-solution stories for the year!