Lesson: Short Stories Lesson 1: Understanding dramatic structure

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify the elements of dramatic structure in a short story

Lesson Plan


Warm-up: [20 minutes]

“Think of one of your favorite movies and write down the storyline.  What happens in the very beginning of the film?  What do you learn at the beginning?  What starts to happen next?  Are there certain problems the main character faces?  What is the highest point of action or tension in the movie?  What happens after?  How does it end?  Is the main character better or worse off than he/she was at the beginning?  How has he/she changed?”

Students will answer the questions in their notebooks for about 10 minutes and then share out with a partner or tablemates to look for similarities in structure.


Whole class discussion/Mini-Lesson: [25 minutes]

  1. Ask students if they found any similarities in the different storylines of their favorite movies and discuss them briefly as a whole class.
  2. Explain that they probably did because most stories follow a basic dramatic structure.
  3. Project Freytag’s Pyramid and explain: Gustav Freytag analyzed Greek and Shakespearean drama and noticed a pattern in the way the stories were told.  He viewed the dramatic structure as a pyramid or triangle, and we can apply this dramatic structure to many stories, novels and films.
  4. Hand out copies and have students take notes on handout as you go over definitions of each part of the pyramid: (Definitions attached are from Wikipedia, modify as needed)

  1. Ask a student volunteer to see if they think their movie fits this structure and have student share aloud, or get up and use projected pyramid as model as they explain their story.

Activity: [25 minutes]

  1. Hand out copies of “Harrison Bergeron” and tell students that they should work together to locate the different parts of the dramatic structure as they read in small groups, working together to annotate and Talk to the Text.
  2. Students discuss where the exposition, rising action, climax and resolution are and plot them on second side of pyramid hand out.
  3. Review as a whole class, field questions, check for understanding, re-teach students as needed; explain you will be looking at this structure throughout the unit.

Check for Understanding: [end of class-homework]

  1. Comprehension questions (attached)

Lesson Resources

Freytag s Analysis of Dramatic Structure  
Harrison Bergeron Text
Freytag's Pyramid Graphic
Elements of Literature   Notes


maureen grover Posted 4 years ago:

Where can I find the attached comprehension questions????

Amanda Reed Posted 4 years ago:

Yes, where are the attached comprehension questions?

Stacy Simon Posted 5 years ago:
Where can I find the attached comprehension questions? Thanks!



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