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Lesson Plan

Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Narrative Structure

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Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Narrative Structure

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Overview

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

 

OVERVIEW

A strong plot is a basic requirement of any narrative. Students are sometimes confused, however, by the difference between a series of events that happen in a story and the plot elements, or the events that are significant to the story. In this lesson, students select a topic for a personal narrative and then do the prewriting in comic-strip format to reinforce the plot structure. Finally, they write their own original narratives based on the comic strip prewriting activity, keeping the elements of narrative writing in mind. The lesson uses a version of "The Three Little Pigs" fairy tale to demonstrate the literary element; however, any picture book with a strong plot would work for this lesson.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

Plot Structure Graphic Organizer: Students can use this printable sheet to record or plan the elements of plot in a piece they are reading or writing.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

The plot of a narrative is comprised of a series of "things that characters do, feel, think, or say" (Dibell, p. 6); however, each of the events must be important to the outcome of the story. A list of events or incidents alone is not a plot. The events must be "significant events" rather than a simple series of things that happen. As an example, Ansen Dibell points to the story of Rapunzel. "Braiding one's hair" is simply an "incident" most of the time. Dibell explains, it's one of many events that "happen, but they don't lead to anything much. No important consequences. But if the character is Rapunzel, and the hair is what's going to let the prince climb to her window, braiding her he plot of a narrative is comprised of a series of "things that characters do, feel, think, or say" (Dibell, p. 6); however, each of the events must be important to the outcome of the story. A list of events or incidents alone is not a plot. The events must be "significant events" rather than a simple series of things that happen. As an example, Ansen Dibell points to the story of Rapunzel. "Braiding one's hair" is simply an "incident" most of the time. Dibell explains, it's one of many events that "happen, but they don't lead to anything much. No important consequences. But if the character is Rapunzel, and the hair is what's going to let the prince climb to her window, braiding her hair is a crucial action" (5).

In this lesson, students sketch out the series of events that occur in their stories, using comic strips as traditional storyboards. By consciously structuring the segments of their narratives in this way, students are encouraged to make connections between events so that their significance to the story is obvious.

Further Reading

Dibell, Ansen. 1988. Plot. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books.

 

Moon, B. (1999). Literary Terms: A Practical Glossary (The NCTE Chalkface Series). National Council of Teachers of English: Urbana, Illinois.

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