Internal and External Conflicts

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Students will analyze text presented in video and written form to determine the conflict and how it is resolved.

Big Idea

Students will grapple with conflict as it is presented in a variety of forms.

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

We have discussed and talked about the four basic types of conflicts, and learning how the students struggle with determining if the conflict is a cause from a force within the person or by a force outside of the person has proven to be a struggle for some.  It is important to teach the difference between the two so students have a good understanding of how it affects and drives the plot of the story.  This will all help the students learn to become great readers. 

To begin, I will pass out the handout found in the Interactive Notebook for Reading Literature. It is the template titled "Internal/External Conflict.  I will and ask the students to complete it.  This will ask the students to look at and determine how the images and events are different.  One is a fight with someone else, and one is a picture of a kid making a decision.  This will bridge their knowledge of conflict from the previous lesson to today's lesson on internal and external conflict.  It is visual and something most students can relate to.  I am hoping the concrete images will help them when trying to work with text later in the lesson.

Once the students have completed the handout on their own, I will ask them to do a Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up to share and discuss their responses.  Then, I will have a few volunteers share their thoughts and responses with the entire class.


40 minutes

I will pass out the Conflict Notes Foldable  found in the Reading Interactive Notebook-Literature. Then, I will  have them tape this into their spirals.  I like to use note foldables to get the students interacting with their learning.  It increases their motivation because it is a different way to take notes and they can use them as study tools. 

I keep an interactive spiral and as we take notes, I have the student number each page, place a title on the page, and finally date the page.  Then, we record everything we place into the spirals in the "Table of Contents" we create at the beginning of each unit.  The table of contents is located in the front of the spiral.  I usually create a cover page and a new table of contents for each unit.  This helps the students stay organized. 

Once the students have taped or glued the foldable into their spirals, show slide 11 in the power point and have the students copy down the notes under each flap.  This will also serve as a study tool when they are preparing for a quiz. 

I will have the students copy down the notes and discuss some examples. 

Once the notes have been copied down, I will show two clips from the movies Toy Story and Toy Story 3.  I like to use a lot of variety in modeling and by using video, the students are motivated and eager to participate and listen. 

The first clip I like to use is from Toy Story.  I will play the scene where Woody and Buzz are fighting.  I will pause after the scene and point out that this scene is an example of external conflict.  I will go back to our previous lesson and point out that it is a character vs. character type of conflict.  This makes it external.  By modeling it this way, it is very visual.  Students have an opportunity to see it in action.  

The second clip I will use to model internal conflict.  I will use the scene from Toy Story 3 where Andy is deciding whether or not to give Woody up to the donation box.  It is about 5:00 minutes into the clip. I will pause the scene right before he makes up his mind and point out why this scene demonstrates internal conflict.  I will ask "Is Andy having a conflict with any other person?" 


Once students are able to see how differences in conflict on screen, I am hoping the skill will transfer to text.  Using the visuals are easy, the students are able to read faces to determine conflict, taking it to text can be more of a struggle.  This is just one way to ease them into the harder skill.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Next, I will have the students look an an excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank.  I have chosen to use the scene where she struggles with destroying the star she is forced to wear.  This scene demonstrates the internal conflict she is having with it as well as the external conflict she has with Peter discussing throwing the star away.

I will read the excerpt aloud, modeling how I first identify the conflicts. I will write each conflict I identify on  Post-it Notes.   I will have the students work with me after to determine if the conflict is internal or external and how they know.  For example, Anne states she wishes she could burn the star. We talk about this being an internal conflict.  Peter and her argue, this is external.  I will have the students sort the conflicts as we discuss this in class.  Discussion is critical to any ELA classroom.  It provides the students a voice to their reasoning.  Every student brings a background and prior knowledge to the room that can expand all of our experiences.  I try to discuss with any piece we use.  There are many times when even I, the lead teacher, am looking at an author's words in a new light because of something my student has said. 

I will ask the students to explain why they categorized each as internal or external.  I want the students to be able to support their reasons.  I will model how, as I identify the conflict in the text, I am making notes on a post-it note.  The students are not used to interacting with the text and by modeling how to analyze the text, the students can see what good readers do naturally.  We want to form these habits within our students. 

One alternative to do with your advanced students would be to have them change the dialogue so it is all external.  You can have them do this on a separate sheet of paper. 


5 minutes

To asses the students' understanding and to help them process what they have learned, I am going to ask the students to complete a Closure Slip.  The students seem to catch on very fast when it comes to determining internal and external conflicts.  I think at this developmental stage they have all experienced both and can use that experience to help them differentiate between the two. 

I love using the closure slips because they really allow the students a safe place to process their learning and express any concerns or confusions they have.