Today students are going to begin thinking about writing a story starring their shoe character. I am going to have them start this process by coming up with the climax first. I am also hoping that prewriting in this way will help with my never ending quest for my students to figure out the climax of a story as we read.
We review characteristics of the climax: It is what we've been waiting for the whole time we've been reading, It is exciting with high action, It is a turning point in the story, The story is wrapped up soon after.
I encourage them to think of an exciting event or problem that their character may become involved in over the course of the story. I have been working with a turquoise flip flop as an example, so I will start by asking the students to help me think of a problem that the shoe owner may have. Some students like to incorporate the shoe into the story, but it is not necessary. After brainstorming a list of potential problems, the students will repeat the process asking me or their peers for help as needed.
I am a big believer in talking through things before writing, and since sixth graders can't stop talking, it works perfectly! So, I let them chat and run ideas by each other until most everyone has an exciting climax.
Now that the students have decided on the climax, I will have them create a plot map just like the one we have been using in reading. Again, I am hoping this lesson will serve as double duty and help them analyze plot in literary text as well.
I have the students start by filling in the climax, and then go back to the beginning. I choose one of the climaxes they generated with me as a sample. Then I model what I would put in the exposition and think about how I might begin this story. I model my thinking of which events would need to occur in the rising action to lead to the climax. Then we talk about what we would want in the falling action and how we can write a satisfying ending. I talk through my ideas and have them give me feedback just like they will do with their peers in a bit.
Now, it is their turn to create the plot map for their story.
Finally, students will partner up to discuss their plot maps. I have them talk through the entire story modifying plot maps as necessary. I encourage them to give each other feedback just like they gave me earlier.
I know there is a lot of chit chat today, but I think that processing their ideas before they write is an important component of prewriting. It helps students discover holes in their plot and gives them more ideas as well. Often students will come up with some of their best ideas as they are talking through the plot map.