To garner interest in the day's activity, I use my do now for set-up for competition (this word grabs attention). I ask students to clear their desks of everything but pencils and books, and I ask for volunteers to keep score and chart responses. While students arrange their materials (they are already sitting with their teams), I take attendance and prepare the challenge by pulling up the PowerPoint.
With students already prepared, I dive into the challenge.
First, we view the standards we will be working toward. I walk students through the different levels, noting how these standards ask students to look at more than just character development (which they studied in previous years and in our practice earlier in the unit). I explain that today's challenge will prepare them to consider how character interacts with the rest of the story. First, of course, we need to review the rest of the story elements, all of which they have seen before. The trickiest, of course, are conflict and climax--as the basis for the rest of the story, they must be correct, so I'll need to keep a close ear on their responses here.
For each element, I will present a definition. The team which first correctly guesses the term earns a point. Then, teams will chart how that element appears in their books on a large poster. The first team to accurately and adequately (a single word won't do) explain the element in their own book ALSO earns a point. This awards both basic knowledge of the term and application, a higher order skill. For students who have foggy memories of terms and/or application, the notes guide serves as a home for personal review; they can jot down whatever terms they need to focus on for their summative assignment coming up soon.
A key rule: the team must work together; the recorder cannot be the only person working, and everyone must be focused on the task. I will observe to make sure this happens.
With the challenge rules clear, we begin. Having studied story elements before, the work goes quickly. Students are able to give both terms and application from their novels; in fact, their recorders struggle to keep up!
By the end of the hour, each group has a clear analysis of plot and other story elements to go with their already completed main character analysis. The classroom walls are a veritable treasure-trove of book information.
Now we move into how plot, setting, characters, etc. come together. I close with questions for consideration to help students meet the full requirements of the standard (located on the last slide of the PowerPoint). How do all these elements work together? We do not answer the questions today; that will be students' work on their book projects. For now, they ponder their responses.