Elements of Literature: Using Jigsaw Groups to Learn Plot

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Students will be able to acquire the definitions of literary terms by reading from the textbook, identifying main ideas in the definitions, and writing a definition in jigsaw groups.

Big Idea

Students will work in collaborative groups to review and step up their definitions for literary terms.

Reading about Literary Terms

10 minutes

Literary terms are divided into two different sections in the textbook I use, so I wrote the pages numbers that students would be referring to on the board.  I didn't include them in this narrative because what are the chances you're using the same book?  Perhaps higher than I think.

I gave each student a word and told them that they would be reading through those pages in search of information about their word.  As they read, they used the handout in picture to record information about their word.  You can find the Word document here

The banner (#1) is simply space to write their word.  I sometimes make life a bit easier for myself by writing the words in and then passing out the handout. That way, one step is done. Sometimes I just write it up on the board or project it.

The box (#2) is space for students to write down what they learned about the word.  I phrased it as "what does the author want you to understand about your word?" That's going to be our key question throughout the year to help us identify and analyze main ideas.  What does the author want me to understand?

The cloud (#3) is space to record key words that are important to understanding the word. This would include both tier 2 and 3 words. Basically, this is a space where they can record words they are unfamiliar with, don't understand, or are important. 

Finally, the last box (#4) is for them to write questions they still have about their word.  And for those students who say "I understand EVERYTHING!" I have a back-up plan.  They write questions that someone else might have or information that is really important to know.

to write down questions they had about information they were reading. While students were reading, I passed out copies of the plot line reference sheet, which you can find here.


Jigsaw Groups to Write Definitions

20 minutes

Next, students joined up with others who had their same word to collaborate. To separate students into groups, especially in my honors classes, I often use a random group generator. Here's a video where I talk about the magic random group generator. 

In these groups, students students were responsible for reviewing the information they'd recorded on their handouts from the previous section and writing a student-friendly definition on dry erase boards. While the groups were working, I was able to monitor the definitions and clarify as needed.

I monitored the group work closely for a few reasons. First, to get them used to the idea that when they're working in groups, I'll be hovering over them to keep them on track and to clear up any confusion.

My district's textbook, The Language of Literature, combines falling action and resolution into one plot point.  While they are very similar and connected, they are two separate plot points. That means that I have to make sure to check in with this group to make sure they're separating them. 

For characters, students wanted to write the definition asCharacters "people, animals, or imaginary creatures."  That's fine for a simple, third grade definition, but they also needed to include the parts about traits and motives.  Yes, those words are bolded, but students don't always recognize that bolded words are important.

The book also doesn't go into specific details about the types of characters (round and flat, static and dynamic) or the types of conflicts (person vs. self, person vs. person, person vs. technology, person vs. god, person vs. society, person vs. nature), so today's lesson serves as an introductory reminder of what they've already learned.  We'll go into more detail about the type of conflicts when we read "Thank You, M'am", but for right now, a simple reminder will suffice. 

The last step in this lesson was for students to present their information. Since there were multiple groups that had the same word, we went word to word.  In other words, all of the groups that had rising action went right after each other so clarification could occur as needed.

For example, I was able to clarify the difference between exposition and rising action. Characters, setting, and basic conflicts are introduced in the exposition and are developed further in the rising action.  The climax is the turning point because it is the point in the story in which a solution to the conflict is apparent. Another thing I elaborated on is that characters are the animals, people, and imaginary creatures in a story that are defined by their traits and revealed by their motives.

I left the dry erase boards with student definitions up around the room, resting against the board to serve as a reference and to allow me time to take pictures.  You see a video of some definitions here.

Responding in Writing

5 minutes

The last thing students did today was write a short paragraph that summarized what they'd learned.

Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture was created with Wordle.