Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

Learning Objectives:  Students will be able to...

Differentiate between internal and external conflict
Differentiate between human versus human, human versus nature and human versus self conflicts. 


Student Worksheet (attached)
Two Overhead Transparencies (attached)
Exit Slips (attached)
Sticky Notes for coding the text

Do Now: (Add a Do Now to the Student Worksheet so that students (S) have something to complete upon entering the room. I like to use this opportunity to spiral skills from prior lessons or to ask students to journal about a life experience that might help them to make a connection with today's lesson.)

Connection: T will say: Today we'll continue our discussions about conflict.  Remember, conflicts are the problems or struggles that move our novels forward.  It's important to develop our vocabularies so that we have the tools to effectively discuss conflict with our literature circles as we read.  Today we'll be developing our vocabularies so that we can do just that.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice:  Yesterday we mentioned how conflict comes in many different forms. Today we're going to take a look at some of those different types of conflict.

Conflict can be divided into two different categories: internal and external. Internal conflict is the kind of conflict that occurs inside of us. Notice that Internal begins with the prefix "in." That should help you to remember that it occurs inside. External conflict occurs outside of us. One of the meanings of the prefix "ex" is outside, like "exit," which should help you to remember Let's take some notes on that first. (T will reveal the definitions of internal and external conflict on the overhead projector; S will copy them onto their worksheets.)

Internal conflict: A struggle that occurs within a character's own mind (trouble making a decision, dealing with mixed feelings or emotions)

External conflict: A struggle that occurs between a character and an outside force (another character, a community, forces of nature, etc.)

Let's look at some examples. If you think it's an internal, inside conflict, put one finger up. If you think it's an external, outside conflict, put two fingers up. Keep your hands right in front of you so that no one else can see what you think. Make sure to keep them up until I get a good scan of the room.

(T will write 1 = internal, 2 = external on the board. Then, T will read examples aloud from the overhead projector and question students' thinking.)

1. Lakeira kicks Edwin.

2. Edwin shouts angrily at Lakeira.

3. Maya cannot decide which eligible young bachelor she wants to date.

4. Ms. Smith and Mr. White get into a shouting match about which is better: reading or writing.

5. Everton has mixed emotions toward his girlfriend and doesn't know whether he wants to continue to see her.

6. Ciani gets stuck in a thunderstorm without an umbrella.

7. All of the kids at Jazmin's old school snub her because they think she's too smart.

8. Shenika is offered a partial ride to a boarding school in Japan and a full ride to a boarding school in Pennsylvania. She doesn't know which opportunity she should choose.

9. On a visit to a New England boarding school, a group of Philadelphia Academy students get stuck in an ice storm and have to reschedule one of their visits.

Nice work. Now let's take it a step further.

Internal and external conflicts can actually be split into further subgroups. Let me should you what I mean. Let's start with external conflicts.

There are really three different kinds of external conflicts that you'll notice as you read. The most common one is human versus human. Whenever two people disagree about something and are pitted against each other, we call that human versus human. So when Andy Evans rapes Melinda in Speak, that's a clear human versus human conflict. But a more subtle one might be Aunt Alexandria versus Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. There's nothing physical about the conflict, but Aunt Alexandria subtly bullies Scout all the time by suggesting that Scout isn't womanly enough.  Let's jot down "human versus human" as the first possible kind of conflict. (T on overhead, S in notes.)

The second common kind of conflict is human versus society.

Whenever you have one character up against a group of characters or even up against a belief system that belongs to a group of characters, you're looking at human versus society. To Kill a Mockingbird is another great example of human versus society. Although the Finch family comes to Tom Robinson's defense, because the majority of Maycomb holds racist beliefs, Tom Robinson is battling an entire community and their broken belief system. That's "human versus society."  Let's jot that down. (T on overhead, S in notes.)

One more to go. The next one would be human versus nature. If you've ever read a survival story, like Hatchet for example, you're probably reading story about a human versus nature conflict. In Hatchet, Brian's plane crashes in the middle of nowhere and he needs to battle the wind and the rain and the cold to survive. That's a "human versus nature" conflict. Let's add that too. (T on overhead, S in notes.)

That's a lot to remember, but I hope that it's mostly review.

Luckily, there is only one type of internal conflict. Can anyone remind me what it's called? (Target: Human versus self.)

Whenever you're reading about a character's internal struggle--difficulty making a decision, or experiencing guilt, mixed feelings or confusion--you're reading about how that character is struggling within his own mind, with himself. So we call all internal conflicts "human versus self." For example, Twilight, Bella is torn between being a good daughter to her mother and father and spending an increasing amount of time with her boyfriend Edward. Let's jot down "human versus self" too, right beneath "Internal Conflict."  (T on overhead, S in notes.)

Let's do a little practice with this.

(Put a key on the board and lead students through practice of the following motions:

If the conflict is internal, human versus self, you're going to touch your head

If it's external human versus human, you're going to point at someone else in the room. You can point at anyone you want, but you need to point at another human being.

If it's external human versus nature, we're going to create a thunderstorm in the classroom by drumming your lap.

If it's human versus society, you're going to show me the motion you probably did as a kid if you ever sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

T will use the overhead to review the same list of conflicts again, with students making gestures for different types of conflict. T will check for understanding and probe students' thinking based upon their gestures.)

Link: Now it's your turn. As you read today, what will you be doing? (Have a student share out the "Links" section of his/her worksheet.)

Independent Practice: (S will read silently.

Since all S should have selected literature circle novels and scheduled meetings with their literature circle groups for this week, small groups of students may be holding their meetings at this time.

T will either hold individual conferences with students to monitor progress and to support individual goal-setting or pull small groups for guided reading / other interventions.  T may wish to pull students into a small group to review and reinforce the concept of conflict based upon yesterday's exit slip or today's activities)

Share: Our time for today is up. Before we share, however, please take some time to complete your exit slip. (T will distribute exit slips and allow 5 minutes for students to complete them. T will then collect them and review them. If you notice that a few students are struggling with identifying the conflict, you may wish to bring those students together for additional practice outside of class time.)

Now please feel free to turn to your partner and share your work for today.

Closing: Today we continued our discussion about conflicts, the problems and struggles that move action forward in our stories.  We also added addition terms to our common language for discussing literature as we learned to differentiate between a variety of different conflicts.

It's time for million dollar question!

1. If we were to divide conflict into two different categories, what would those categories be?

2. If we were to divide conflict into four different categories, what would those categories be?

3. Note to the Instructor: Insert a question here that spirals learning from previous units.

4. Make a text-to-world connection based upon what you have read thus far in your literature circle novel.


Gradual release and pair/share during Introduction to New Material/Guided Practice
Immediate check for understand through use of hand motions enables strategic questioning
Kinesthetic learning activities
Literature circle novels are differentiated by reading level and by choice
Opportunity for small-group work at the conclusion of Introduction to New Material/Guided Practice
Active reading strategy: coding the text
One-on-one Reader's Workshop conference to support individual students and to encourage individual goal-setting
Exit slips identify students who would benefit from additional support.


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