Problem and Solution Nonfiction Text Structure


The problem and solution nonfiction text structure is important for many subjects. Students need practice reading about problems and using critical thinking to find solutions. This type of text structure supports critical thinking as well as showing examples of how real life scientific, ecological, and historical problems have been solved, or what solutions have been tried. Students should familiarize themselves with summarizing events and identifying the main problem and solution of a passage as a way to ensure comprehension of the subject matter. Familiarity with this text structure will also be used on many higher level texts, and state and standardized tests, so this is a meaningful way to include test preparation while also working on building nonfiction reading skills.

Problem and Solution Nonfiction Text Structure Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Problem and Solution Nonfiction Text Structure
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students plenty of practice
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The problem and solution nonfiction text structure is important for many subjects. The lesson describes to students that in this type of text, the author presents a problem and then presents a solution or possible solution. Keywords used in the text are defined, such as problem, answer, solution, question, and outcome, among others. Then a sample reading is provided for students to read with a partner, and then complete a table demonstrating they can pick out the problem and possible solutions. The lesson is useful for test preparation, as the ability to understand this type of text is a skill frequently tested on many standardized tests.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Call students to the carpet/front of the room to sit together. Read the short instructional passage “The Plants Are Taking Over”.  Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to discuss which nonfiction text structure the passage used. Write the choices: Problem and Solution, Compare and Contrast, Sequence/Chronological Order on the board to offer your students a basis for their answer.
  2. The correct answer is a Problem and Solution piece. Ask students to tell you how they came to their answers.  Possible suggestions might be that the passage explained that there was a problem discussed and then possible solutions were given. It did not compare or contrast the two items, or list events in chronological or sequential order. So, students could use process of elimination to determine the correct choice.
  3. Explain that today students will begin learning about nonfiction text structures. Nonfiction topics will always be real and based on fact, not opinion. The structures refer to how the text presents information. List the five different major types of nonfiction text structures on the board, but circle Description: List:  cause and effect, compare and contrast, problem and solution, sequence or chronological order, and description.   Now describe Problem and Solution Text Structure on an anchor chart:
    Description Nonfiction Text Structure
    Description Text Structure Characteristics:

    The author is Discussing a Problem. The author discusses a solution or possible solution that will solve the problem mentioned in the text.  

    Keywords: problem, answer, solution, question, possible solution, outcome, etc.
    Example: Look at the highlighted keywords:  In some African communities there is a shortage of easily accessible  water. This problem causes many families to lose work and children to miss school. They spend hours every day walking to distant wells or water centers to collect clean water and bring it home. One solution to this problem is to increase funding for community wells. Then each community would have a nearby well. The outcome would allow people to greatly reduce the amount of time they spend in search of water. It will allow them to attend work and school for more hours each day. Also, having water that is safe and close to home will improve the lives and health of all members of the community.
    Purpose: The information is presented to inform readers about a problem and discuss solutions to the problem.
  1. Have students work with a partner to read the Activity Page One. Students will actively read by underlining or highlighting key words that help them describe the information. They will then complete table that lists the problem and possible solutions, and a summary statement. After all groups are done, check to make sure students identified the same solutions and problem by asking for the whole class to participate. Have students volunteer to share the problem/solutions they identified. Have the rest of the students do thumbs up, thumbs down to show agreement or disagreement.
    1. Students will independently complete the Practice Page and Problem/Solution Table.
    2. After completing independently, have them work with groups of four to check for accuracy. Go to each small group to check in and make sure they are correct.
    3. Homework: Students will choose a problem that you’ve covered in history or science. Have students brainstorm a topic list. They will then choose one topic from the list as an individual and write their own short problem/solution piece. They will have a student classmate partner with them after completing their individual assignment. They will exchange papers and see if they can successfully complete a list of the events in order based on the partner’s paper.
    4. Students will complete a Quiz.

    NOTE: Before you begin each day’s instructional time, it is a good idea to review the anchor chart!

Common Core State Standards: 


Class Sessions (45 minutes): 3-4 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Many more teaching resources in Download!

Want more reading resources?  Check out our other Reading Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade



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