Plot: The Beginning

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Students will be able to analyze complex text such as "Eleven", to identify the parts to plot from various media modalities.

Big Idea

The plot thickens. How does it all fit together to create a story?

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

I want the students to bridge the information learned in the previous lesson to this lesson on plot.

Pass out the Plot Sort to each pair of students. This activity asks the students to match the definition of the parts of plot to the term.   I am having them work in pairs because they have not mastered this skill yet and can use each other as a resource.  I also have my students grouped by ability.  I have a stronger student paired with a weaker student.  This allows the weaker student to observe the strategies stronger students use to persevere through problems.  Have the students work to match the definition and the term.  At this point, I will walk around to assess the students retention of the previous lesson.  This lets me know who to work with or pull for reteaching later in this lesson.  I may also provide these students with a resource or modified version of the plot chart. 

If students need a little assistance while completing their advanced organizer, I will have them take out their guided notes and refer to the section on plot. 

Once the students have matched the terms, I will have them place them in order.  This will also help me to assess if I need to reteach at this point or if the students are ready to move on. 

I will then pull the class back together and review the parts to plot. 


Student Work Sample

Student Work Sample




20 minutes

To get the students thinking about plot and the importance of plot development, I like to start off by asking them to tell me about their favorite books.  As the students share some of their favorite stories, I ask them to explain why they like the book.  At this point the students will share they liked the suspense, or they could relate to the conflicts, or they found the book to be funny.  This is a great lead in to why plot development is so important.  It also helps the students connect the concept of plot to stories they are familiar with reading.  This also helps the students feel more comfortable about sharing and discussing. 

For the instruction, I like to model the skill I will be asking the students to master, before having them attempt it.  This lets them see my thinking while I am working through the story and plot chart.  I model questioning and inferring aloud.  Students often do this on their own, without realizing the importance of their questions and inferences.  By modeling, I am demonstrating the purpose for these skills. 

I will take the story "Eleven".  We have already read this text in class and have analyzed it for the elements of fiction.  The students are very familiar with the text and have worked with it before.  By modeling with a text we have mastered, I am able to focus on the skill and not so much the comprehension of the text. 

Display the Plot Structure Diagram onto the board. Go through each piece of the diagram, so the students know how to work with the plot structure. 

If students struggle with identifying the climax of the story, I always ask them to identify the main conflict.  Once they identify the main conflict, I tell the students to think of the part in the story when the main conflict is affected.  This usually helps the students see where the climax is located.  I like to teach climax by defining it as the turning point of the story verses the most exciting part.  I feel that by telling the students the climax is the most exciting part is confusing.  What one student feels is exciting, another may not.  By identifying the conflict then linking it to the climax, the students can see the story line or plot change. 

Go through each part of plot, citing the text as you complete the plot diagram.  It is very important that the students hear your thoughts as you are completing the chart.  Modeling the reading strategies is key to analyzing literature. 

Once you have completed your model ask students if they have any questions. 

Guided Practice

20 minutes

To begin, I will have the students view the video James Marshall's Cinderella found on  I have chosen to use a video to practice the concept because it is engaging and high interest. If you can't locate or access this video, use any short animated video.  It helps if the students are familiar with the story.  

I will have the students practice diagramming plot with a video first hoping this will help them transition into using text.  I am also using a story that is more common to link prior knowledge and build off of what they already know of the story. Using media is one of the key shifts in common core and working with a common story allows the students a smooth transition with this skill. 

As the students view the video, I will pause the video four times throughout the viewing.  I will ask the students to summarize the important events.  This will be helpful later in filling out the plot chart.  It will be useful for recall for any students who struggle with focus or comprehension.  

Once the video is over, I will ask the students to work within their groups to complete the Plot Structure Diagram for the video.  By working within their groups they will be able to utilize each others' skills to complete the chart.  This gives them the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and hear other students' viewpoints and ideas.  This discussion allows students to experience other avenues of thinking. 

When the groups are finished, I would have one person per group report out. 

Independent Practice

20 minutes

For the Independent work, I will use the story "Tuesday of the Other June."  This is a fiction story that has a very definite plot. The conflict is very easy to identify and it allows the student to practice identifying the parts of plot. 

At this point, if there are some students who still struggle with the concept of pulling out the pieces to plot, I will provide them with the pieces from the story already pulled out.  I will have them still read the story, but match the text with the correct part of plot.  This will allow them to build the skill but still feel success. I may also pull a small group to work with or provide additional guided practice. 

For any students who I have assessed and determined to be ready to attempt analyzing the text for the parts of plot, I will provide them with the story and the plot diagram.  I will usually allow them to work on their own, checking in with them. 


I will collect and assess the plot diagram. 


5 minutes

To assess the students' understanding and to help them process their learning, I will have them complete a Closure Slip.