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Lesson Plan

Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats

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Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Vanessa Udry

Tolono, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Each day of this lesson, students listen as the teacher reads a different picture book by Ezra Jack Keats. Following the story, class discussion focuses on the problem that the main character faces and the related solution that the character chooses. An interactive bulletin board in the classroom allows students to create their own solutions to various problems that they face personally. After each read-aloud and discussion, students compare the different stories and plots using a story mapping graphic organizer. As a culminating project, students choose their own characters, define a problem and a solution appropriate for their characters, and then write their own problem-solving stories.

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Problem and Solution Organizer: Students can use this simple graphic organizer to note the problems and solutions characters face.

Problem Solution handout: This graphic organizer can help students plan their own problem-solution story.

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Researchers such as Dolores Durkin (1961), Margaret Clark (1976), Regie Routman (1988; 1991), and Kathy Short (1995) have found evidence that children who are immersed in rich, authentic literary experiences become highly engaged in literature and develop literary awareness. Their studies revealed that positive and meaningful experiences with books and written language play a critical role in the development of literacy skills. Other researchers have found that students acquired reading and thinking strategies in literature-based programs that included teacher-led comprehension instruction (Block, 1993; Baumann, 1997; and Goldenberg, 1992/1993). Through the exploration of picture books that feature problem-solving themes, this lesson highlights a familiar structure in works of literature, one which bridges directly to critical thinking strategies students can tap in their real-world experiences.

Further Reading

Moss, Joy F. 2005. Literature, Literacy, and Comprehension Strategies in the Elementary School. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE. [See Chapter One: "Theory into Practice."]

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