Plot Conflict: Character VS Society

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SWBAT discuss the plot of a story and determine the conflict as it relates to the character vs society model.

Big Idea

This is a perfect lesson to add after a holiday like Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students will be able to connect to previous learning to help them understand Character VS Society as a plot conflict.

Plot Triangle Review

5 minutes

In a previous lesson I modeled the use of a plot triangle to help in understanding the plot of a story. Today, I ask them to draw everything they can remember on the plot triangle. I give them time and walk around to check on what they can recall. I then ask them to walk me through labeling a giant one I have drawn on the board.

I label my triangle and ask them to also give me what that label represents on the triangle. Basically I add small notes to remind them the purpose of each section. I then ask them to turn to a neighbor and walk them through the parts of the triangle. I ask if there is a brave student who thinks they can start at the beginning and can explain to the class all of the steps on the triangle. 

Character Vs Self

2 minutes

We have already practiced Character Vs Self and I want to review what we learned. I lead a brief discussion on what we remember. I ask them to draw on specific details from the stories I shared with them. I have to prompt very little, but feel as we gain the different plot conflicts, they will need to review them often to keep them all straight.

Character Vs Society with a Focus on Rules

15 minutes

With the practice piece over, they are ready to learn about the next plot conflict, Character VS Society. I ask them to keep their triangle on their white board and use it to figure out which part of the story would be the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

I am going to read a story to them that models Character Vs Society. I have chose the book, On the Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds. It talks about Rosa Parks and the beginning of the Alabama Bus Boycott. We explored this subject in a previous lesson and my hope is to have kids make lots of connections between the two lessons. 

While I read, I want them to track the plot on their triangle. In the center of the triangle, I ask them to write what they believe the character is up against as it relates to society. Before I begin to read I want to clarify exactly what we need to look for when it is Character Vs Society. 

I write the word society on the board, and ask them to tell me what it they understand the word to mean. They have some great answers, and the one they like has to do with it being close to a community. I ask them what makes a society and if there any special characteristics of one that might help us when we read. I have to prompt them a lot until we get to a society having laws. It is very important that students understand that a society has rules and laws. This is what will help us understand the plot's conflict.


Plot Discussion

5 minutes

At the end of the book, their are so many great conversations that could be had. I start by asking them about some of the author use of description when describing aspects of the characters. I have them practice some visualizing before we begin to make connections.

The second question I ask is on any connections they made while I read. Students connect to the bus boycott and what we have read about Martin Luther King Jr. One student asked if the boy in the book was Dr. King, and the class answered it for him. Two students explain that it couldn't be because Dr. King was part of the boycotts and had been arrested like Rosa Parks. This is when teaching feels so rewarding, they help each other understand from the learning they have made in your class.

To end the discussion, I ask them to tell me what is the plot conflict. How is the character up against society? They can first discuss this with their elbow partner. I then have them discuss this as a class. When I remind them to look at the rules or laws from the time, they quickly catch on and make all kids of connections to this plot conflict.