Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

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


Student Worksheet (attached)
Overhead transparency (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: Today we're going to dive deeper into plot by discussing the parts of plot. These words are part of a common language used to discuss how stories move forward. As readers and as writers, we must be comfortable with discussing stories using this language.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice: Many stories follow a similar pattern, and we're going to review the vocabulary to discuss that pattern today. (T will gradually reveal overhead as S take notes on the student worksheet.  Specifically, students should be defining the parts of plot in the boxes of the plot diagram on the front of their worksheets.)

Most stories begin with an Exposition or Introduction, wherein we meet the characters, learn the setting and collect some general background information.  (T will reveal "Exposition" definition on the overhead.)

Then you hit the Conflict. We've already discussed what conflict is. Can someone please remind me? (Target: A problem or struggle.  T will reveal this on the overhead.)

Like we said in our in-depth study of conflict, stories have many, many conflicts because conflict is what makes them interesting, so it should be clear to you that this is an oversimplification of how stories really work. Still, it's a start. 

After we encounter a conflict, we hit the Rising Action, wherein we add complications to the plot.  (T will reveal this on the overhead.)

During the rising action, things become increasingly exciting until you hit the Climax or the Turning Point of the story. The conflict, which caused all kinds of complications, usually comes to a head here. Things get explosively exciting either for better or for worse.  (T will reveal this on the overhead.)

After you hit the climax, things start to calm down again. That's called the Falling Action. Whatever the conflict was, it's not exactly resolved yet (that is, we haven't found a solution), but we're moving towards finding one.  (T will reveal this on the overhead.)

The end of the story, if you're following the very basic and oversimplified plot diagram model, is the Conclusion or the Resolution. This is where you resolve the problem or, if you don't actually resolve it, the story at lease concludes.   (T will reveal this on the overhead.)

(T will take questions.)

Help me to demonstrate how this works.  (T will draw a plot diagram on the board.  T will then select a story that all students have read, perhaps from earlier in the year or from another English Language Arts Class.  T will talk students through diagramming the events of the story on the story map.  If students have not read a common story, T will use a well-known fairy tale--ie: Cinderella--to diagram the plot.)

Please take five minutes to diagram the story on the back of your notes.  You are welcome to work with your table partner.  (S will read and diagram the story.  T will circulate to check for understanding.)

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 and code the text.

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 in detail. We talked through all of the parts of plot, in fact! While we need to keep in mind that the plot diagram is too simplistic to work for every story, there are still parts of the plot diagram to which we refer all the time. We refer frequently to the exposition, conflict, climax and conclusion, for example, regardless of whether the story actually proceeds in that order. It's important that we're all fluent in this common language so that we can discuss our stories like experts.

It's time for million dollar question!

1. Name the parts of 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. Compare and contrast story diagrams and plot diagrams.


Graphic organizer
Gradual release during Introduction to New Material / Guided Practice
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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