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A Useful Lesson When Teaching Problem/Solution Essays – & Other Topics



Sequencing activities are great lessons for teaching language and higher-order thinking, particularly if students are challenged to explain their reasons for putting texts or pictures in the order they choose.

Chronological order is the typical sequence that is used, and it works great.

There’s also a different twist on this kind of sequencing, one which I learned from my teaching mentor, Kelly Young.

Instead of cutting-up sections of text and having students put it in chronological order, another option is to list questions, mix-up the answers, and have students have to identify which ones go with the other. The texts can be complex, including having multiple paragraphs making-up the answers, or can be very simple.

Here’s a simple version I used when introducing Problem/Solution essays to my Intermediate English Language Learners. As you can see from the image below, there are a list of problems that are then followed by a list of solutions (that are not in order). Students had to match the problem with the solution (you can download it here).

problem solution

Another fun way to use this list is to call out the items under “Solutions” (without sharing the items under Problems) and have students come-up with different types of problems they could solve.

While I was preparing this post, I realized that, though I have “Best” lists for tons of other kinds of essays, for some reason I don’t have one for Problem/Solution.

However, I do have quite a few related resources at our class blog.

You can find links to lists on the other essays at The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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