It’s in the Plot

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SWBAT analyze how the problems and solutions help develop the characters over the course of the text.

Big Idea

Your students discover that challenges/problems help make characters more interesting.


I remember when I was younger and just beginning to do book reports the hardest question for me was: What is the plot of this story? I had no idea.  Then a teacher described the plot as the problem and solution in the story.  In my young mind I was happy with that definition.  Now teaching First graders it is still an easy definition, though complex texts make analyzing these elements more demanding.  I also now know that the plot develops and relates back to the character, which further increases the complexity of the task.

Common Core Connection:

I actually like the way common core requires students to take a deeper look at the plot of a story and how it helps to define the character.  When I read into CCRR. 3: analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text, I see it is a very complex standard that can lend itself to many reading strategies and comprehension skills.

In this lesson students take a deeper look at the plot of a story and how it helps to define the character. 

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson my students read Morse the Moose, by Bernard Wiseman, in small groups and discussed how the problem and solution, or plot, made the story more interesting, as well as how the problem affected the other characters in the story.


At least one copy per group of Morse the Moose by Bernard Wiseman

I Think About Important Events in Stories activity sheet:  by Gretchen Owocki, The Common Core Lesson Book, K-5


5 minutes

We began this lesson on the rug were I reminded my students that the day before we read Morse the Moose, by Bernard Wiseman, and talked about not only was Morse a Moose, but what were some character or personality traits that made Morse, Morse.  At that point I gave my students a moment to think about the traits we listed yesterday.  I then used the magic cup to call on students to share some of those traits. When my students finished sharing I told them today we were going to look further at Morse the Moose to figure out what the plot, or problem, is in the story and how it was resolved.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

As we stood up to move to our desks I instructed my students to put on their ‘moose antlers’ and walk to their desks.  I like to use a movement as we are moving from rug to desks, or desks to rug to break up the monotony.  One thing my students noticed about Morse was that his antlers looked like a crown.

Once at their desks I explained that looking at the character or personality traits of the characters help us understand who the character is. The problem, or plot, is what makes the story more interesting.  I then gave my students a moment to think about the events in the story and called on three students to share what happened at the beginning, the middle, and the end of Morse the Moose.  After they shared I asked my students to think about the problem in the story.  My students agreed the problem in the story was Morse thought the cow and deer were also moose.  They also agreed the problem was ‘fixed’ when all the animals saw their reflections in the pond.  I agreed, however, I wanted them to think about how the problem affected not just Morse but the other characters in the story as well.  I asked the following questions, pausing for a little second before asking the next one:

  • How did that make the story more interesting? 
  • How did Morse’s thinking affect the other characters? 
  • Would the ending be different if Morse thought the cow was a cow? 
  • Who really had a problem? 

As my students thought about these questions I told them they would have an opportunity to work in a small group to read Morse the Moose together and answer the questions as a group.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

From there I had my students stand up and look at three friends to form a group of four and sat three groups on a corner of the rug, one at the work table, one at the round table, and one at a desk.  I then instructed my students that they were to take turns reading the story Morse the Moose to their group and after they read talk about and answer the questions on the I Think About Important Events in Stories  activity sheet.  I then passed out copies of Morse the Moose and the activity sheet to each group.  As my students read I went from group to group to listen to their progress. The first 3 accompanying pictures show some of my students in a Small GroupReading Together, and Working Together. 

As I noticed groups finishing reading I redirected them to talk about the questions on the activity sheet and answer them as a group. 

Once everyone was finished reading, I directed the groups to write the answers to the questions on their activity sheets.  The two pictures demonstrate the work of an Advance Student Work sample and a  Below Basic Student Work sample.  I notice that letter formation needs to be addresses.  The final picture is what a student might look like when he/she is Deep in Thought


Independent Practice

15 minutes

As my students finished their activity sheets I called them back to their seats where I gave them the directions to their independent journal writing.  Before giving them the prompt for their journal writing I had them think about how the problem of Morse thinking the other animals were moose made the story more interesting.  Then had them write in their journals what might have happened had Morse thought the cow was a cow.  I modeled and put this prompt on the Promethean board: If Morse thought the cow was a cow then ____.

Ticket out the Door

5 minutes

Today I wanted my students to think about some of the problems they encountered during the collaborative activity.  As they were thinking I also had them think about how they solved the problems.  After giving them a moment to think about this, I directed them to write on a scratch paper who they worked with, one problem they had and how they fixed it.  I was hoping through this activity my students would make a connection to real life situations and relate how problems can be solved by working together.