Finding the Elements of Fiction: Tone, Plot, Theme

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SWBAT analyze how the particular elements of a story interact by taking notes to organize their thinking.

Big Idea

...and now we have an Elements of Fiction reference to use all year!


5 minutes

As we get settled into class today, I have students take out their Elements of Fiction Cornell Notes and the notes we began yesterday for "Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto.

This is a good time to remind students that our end goal here is not simply the creation of notes to turn in.  We are creating and then using resources that will help us with our study of literature this year.



Getting Down to Business

30 minutes

The sections of the notes we're going to cover today are tone, plot, and theme.  This can be a simple review or in-depth instruction on the parts of a plot.  I have found that different schools and districts like to teach plot elements in very particular ways.  In my district, students are expected to know and use the terms exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution

I find that tone is an easy word to define, yet it is hard for students to identify in a story.  It is something that needs to be covered again and again as the year progresses.  I'll have students say that the tone is "sweet" or "nice" or "funny."  As long as they can tell me why they chose the word, and their answers has to do with the attitude of the author, I'll take it. For now.  

After we've covered theme, it's time to move on to the summary portion of our Cornell Notes.


Did They Get It?

15 minutes

To wrap up this lesson, I draw my students' attention back to the essential question on our Cornell Notes, "How do the elements of fiction interact in "Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto?"

We will talk about what this question is asking us to do.  This is not about summarizing the story.  This is a summary of the information in our Cornell Notes and a chance to articulate how the different elements of fiction interact in a story (Common Core-tastic!).

The way we begin this is by choosing two of the elements of fiction.  The goal is to have a discussion about how these two elements interact and inform each other.  For example, setting and character.  This is the first day of school (when), and Victor is optimistic that this is going to be his year and Teresa is going to be his girl.  I help my students make this leap by asking, "Why is Victor so excited to see Teresa on this day in particular?"

Once we've had this conversation two or three times (setting/plot, character/theme, etc.), I ask the students to explain one of these relationships between two elements of fiction in the summary section of their Cornell Notes.

At the end of class, I will have students turn in these notes.  I am assessing them formatively, and after I have returned them, students will keep them in their class binders to use for the rest of the year.