Analyze Parts of a Plot Diagram (Day 1 of 2).

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SWBAT learn how to complete a plot diagram buy analyzing a teacher created model and completing a short assessment.

Big Idea

How does plot motivate the action in a story?


10 minutes


I begin with this activator to get a better understanding of what my students know and want to know about plot.  I think it is essential that they have a strong grasp of the the basic elements of fiction; plot, characters, setting, theme, and writing style. I think Sherman Alexie has mastered all five.  I also feel it is essential for them to understand plot because it will improve their writing because the very best way to improve  writing in these, and other areas, is to read a lot of writers who have excellent control in these areas. 

We are taking a short detour from the novel by Sherman Alexie because I realized that even though plot is not a grade 9 standard many of my students still have gaps in their learning.  I hand out a KWL template and ask students to answer the questions,  "What do you Know about the elements of the Plot?"  "What would you like to Know?"  To check for understanding students report out as I list comments on chart paper.  During the Wrap Up I will ask them to fill in the what they Learned about the elements of plot.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

On Line Plot Quiz #1

After looking at the KW part of the KWL,  I expect to discover that my students have gaps in their understanding of the elements of plot.  To make sure students understand these elements, I ask them to first take notes in their journals about the elements of a plot.

Next I use an online quiz to get a baseline for what they know and remember.  I first ask my students to write down the answers to the thirteen questions as I read them aloud.  Then while reviewing each answer as a class, students are asked to correct their wrong answers to the on-line quiz which I project on a screen from my lap top:


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

I like using a Plot Diagram because it's an organizational tool which allows students to visualize the key features of the story.  I project the diagram on a screen using a docucamera.  I originally was going to use what I thought is a popular TV drama, Law and Order, for this lesson but ended up adapting my lesson. I explain to the students that I'm going to tell them a true tragic story that happen in the recent past about  the rise and fall of a well known football college coach at Penn State University and how the details of the story unfold RL.9-10.3.  Some of my students were familiar with the story but were very interested in hearing the sordid details.

As I told the story, I modeled plotting the events on my diagram for them to see and asked questions such as, "What would be the setting?"  "The exposition?" etc. 

After modeling the use of  the plot diagram, students take the plot diagram quiz 1 for the reasons I explained in the Building Knowledge activity. 

Wrap Up

10 minutes


To give students an opportunity to reflect and summarize their learning, I ask students , "What did you Learn about the parts of a plot?"  As they comment I record comments on the Learned section of the chart paper.

I expect my student comments to include:

  • the climax is when everything comes together
  • falling action ends up in the resolution
  • the exposition introduces everything like the setting