Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

Learning Objective: Students will be able to sequence a story using a story map


Student Worksheet (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: We spent the last couple days discussing conflict, the problem or struggle in a story that drives its plot forward.  Today we'll focus on the plot as a whole.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice:  Who can remind me what it means to sequence events? (Target:  To put events in order.) Let's record that in our notes. (T will record this definition on the board, S will record it on their worksheets)

And what is plot? (Target: Plot is the sequence of events in a story.) Let's record that too. (T on board, S in notes.)

We're going to spend the next few days discussing different ways to diagram plot, to diagram what happens in our stories. This is especially useful if you tend to forget what happens in your reading or if you have trouble keeping events in order in your head.

Let's take a look at our first kind of story diagram. It's at the bottom of your notes for today. It's so simple that you could recreate it on your own anytime. It's just a bunch of boxes!  To complete the story diagram, you simply jot notes about important events or draw quick sketches of important events in order from left to right.    Let me show you what I mean.  (T will read the passage aloud.)

Darnell and Shivon were wrapping up a late dinner when they heard a knock at the door. "Are we expecting someone?" Darnell's eyes looked shifty. He moved in his seat. Shivon waited. "No one knows we're here, Darnell. That was part of the plan. Are we expecting someone?"

"Hm?" he muttered.

"There was a knock at the door. Are we expecting someone?" Darnell looked down at his hands, his face blank. A shiver ran down Shivon's spine. The knock came again, louder, with greater intensity.

"What aren't you telling me?" Shivon's calm voice inquired. Darnell did not respond. Instead, in one swift motion, he swiped the bread knife from the table and glided to the hallway by the door.

To complete the story diagram, we want to identify the most important things that happen in our reading and draw or write them in the boxes. What would you draw or write for this little passage? (T will students through completion of the map. T may wish to recreate the map on the board as S complete the map in their notes.)

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.)

Now let's take a look at our story diagram for independent reading today. It appears on the back of your notes for today, just below the "Links" section."

As you go about this on your own, I can think of two possible pitfalls. First, we need to remember that we're here to become better readers, which means that we need to spend much more time reading than we spend diagramming our stories. In the thirty minutes that you'll spend working independently today, I'd recommend that you spend no more than 5 minutes total working on your story diagrams.  (You may need to adjust these times based upon your teaching schedule.)  Of course, because you're doing the two simultaneously, that's more complicated. Maybe you'll read for 10 minutes, spend two minutes recording the events, read for five more minutes, spend one more minute jotting something down. Regardless of how exactly you split up your time today, just make sure that you're spending much more time reading than writing. If you find that you're having trouble managing that balance, just let me know, and I'll see if I can help you out.

The second place where you might go wrong is you might feel like you need to fill in every box.  That's not necessarily true!  You should only fill in a box when you come upon a new important event that is critical to the progression of your story.

Independent Practice: (S will read silently, code the text, and complete story diagrams.

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.)

Share: Our time for today is up.  Please feel free to turn to your partner or take a short walk to your literature circle group and share your work for today.

Closing: Today we discussed plot, the sequence of events in a story. And we learned one very simple way to diagram plot, which is just to occasionally stop and draw or write the major events into a story diagram. Especially if you have trouble remembering what you read or if you struggle to put events in order in your head when you read a story that's told to you out of order, using a story diagram should really help you out.

It's time for million dollar question!

1. What is plot?

2. What is the relationship between conflict and plot?

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.


Graphic organizer
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

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