So, my kiddos have had a couple of nights of homework from our reading series consisting of a story map asking for conflict, plot events and solution. They have consistently gotten the conflict and solution correct but are only writing one or two (at the most) plot events. This is where I need to begin for our study of the elements of fiction.
We have been reading the book Meteor by Patricia Polacco for our writing portfolio piece. What I decided to do was continue our work with that text. The students enjoy it and are fascinated by the idea of such a large meteor hitting so near someone's home. Since they're so engaged in the text, finding the plot events should be easy for them.
When the students come in the room, they find chart paper at their groups and the book cover projected onto the Smartboard. I've said before that one thing that engages my students is being able to use Sharpie markers. I pull out the nice, thick big permanent markers and begin to explain the task.
The students are tasked with using the markers and the chart paper to list the plot events of the story. We have a quick discussion about which events are important and I give them a litmus test- if I can pull it out of the story and the story doesn't change, it's not important.
For this activity, the students work in their table groups instead of choosing a group to work with. I like to add variety to how we form groups and we haven't worked with just our table groups for a while. My groups are heterogeneously arranged so it's nice sometimes to have that mix of abilities.
The students spend the class period talking and thinking about plot events from Meteor. I give them time and I also spend a portion of time at each group listening and guiding. I love this time because the kids are so different than they are in whole class discussion and a couple of the groups I sat with had students that don't normally lead leading the discussion.
The charting of the plot events took the students the entire time. I had wanted to have them compare their charts and, as a group, come up with the correct combination of plot events. However, it was more important to let their conversations unfold naturally and authentically which they did than to hurry them along.
I let them work almost until the time class was over. Near the end, I collect the charts- which most are finished with- and hand out the exit tickets. I let the students complete their exit tickets while I tell them that tomorrow their charts will be displayed and we'll discuss the similarities and differences in each one while coming up with one chart to correctly list our plot events.