To get started, I gave the students a quick pre-assessment on the elements of the plot. We graded it quickly in class before we started. My plan was to differentiate and have students who already knew the material skip the notes on plot. Several of my students were able to answer all the questions with accuracy, so I pulled those students out and had them work on an alternative activity which was reading a well known text, "Little Red Riding Hood" and identifying the elements of the plot. Once I started this with my first class I quickly realized that they did not have the depth of knowledge required to figure out the elements of a story on their own. I ended up pulling my them back with the rest of my class and having them work with the whole group. I think the main problem was that my pretest didn't show understanding of the concept as much as it did rote memorization. So, for the rest of the time, I didn't pull a small group, but just used the students who did well as volunteers and leaders.
I begin this lesson by modeling to get the students started because the majority of them did not know all of the elements of the plot and did not score in the proficient range on my pretest.
Instead of having the students take direct notes like I had originally planned, at the last minute I decided to have them watch/listen to the book Enemy Pie. My 8 year old introduced me to this website which is a collection of children's books read by famous people.
As the students listen to the story, I will have them make a flow map of the events of the story. I will pause the story periodically to let them catch up on the events.
I have the luxury of having a smart board and speakers in my classroom, but if you don't this activity could work with any story that has a simple and predictable plot. The teacher could always read a story aloud too. I just liked this version because this particular story teller uses great expression, and watching a video is always engaging for my kiddos. They listen to me talk all day, so they welcome the change!
After all of the introductory information is given, I will pause the video to allow students to jot it down. I'll pause again after the next couple events were introduced, and I continued through out the story.
Once we were finish, I will show the students a plot diagram that I have created in a smart notebook and have them to copy it into their reading notebooks.
I will introduce the exposition and have students label their own plot diagram. Then we will discuss what information from Enemy Pie belongs in the exposition. The students will write this on the diagram in their notebooks.
We will repeat this process with the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. I know that the climax is the most difficult part for students to identify, so I plan on spending some extra time explaining it. I like to teach the students to identify the climax by asking, "What is the part you've been waiting for?" In Enemy Pie, it is the part where the enemy is about to eat the pie.
The students are able to take the information directly from the flow map and apply it to their plot diagram. I have them flow map it first to make sure that they don't leave anything out to prepare them for more difficult text in the future.
On a side note....
This was a really bad planning day! I planned this lesson on Friday after school, and I was in a hurry to leave. It showed today! After my first class, I had to completely re order what I did, and it ended up working much better. My lessons always go better with more student centered lessons and less direct instruction. Once I took myself out of the lesson, all was well!
We will be applying this information to tomorrow, so to close out I will have them answer this question on a post it. "What part of the plot is the most important and why?"
This will be their ticket out the door today, and they will stick the post it on the door as they leave. We will begin our day discussing their answers tomorrow.
I like to have students reflect on their learning in small ways like this to get them thinking critically about what they have learned that day. If it is posted up on the door, it is easy to start the next class by revisiting the closure from the previous day. It's a good way to job their memories and get them thinking again.