The text structure of problem and solution explains a problem to a reader, and then offers one or more solutions. Sometimes, the text examines a problem that has already been solved. More often, the author invites the reader to contribute to the solution.
Problem and solution text is often difficult for students to recognize. Writers don't always use the exact words "problem" and "solution". Instead, I tell students to look for words like these:
-developed (often used in the sense of a problem developing over time)
-solve (many students don't recognize that solve and solution are related)
Over the last few years, I've realized that I need to teach students to be critical of problem and solution texts. Often, persuasive essays use this structure. A reader needs to think, "Do I believe that this is a problem? Do I believe that these steps will be the best solution?"
Complicating issues is the fact that problem and solution text is often combined with cause and effect. How are these text structures different? If there is no solution, then the text structure is cause and effect. If there is a solution, then it is problem and solution.
Looking for problem/solution pieces? There are several examples in Text Structure Resources, a packet that includes texts with lots of different text structures. I've also put two texts at TeachersPayTeachers. The James River Ferry is written for students in grades 2-3. Schoolhouse Problems and Solutions is written for students in grades 4-6.
Many picture books show elements of this text structure, especially books with environmental themes. Melissa Stewart has written several books showing problem and solution. A Place for Butterflies is one of my favorites, as well as A Place for Birds. What makes these so nice is that they have simple text, but very detailed pictures.