Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Plotting a Plan to Improve Writing: Using Plot Scaffolds

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Shannon Alicia O'Day, Ph.D.

Shannon Alicia O'Day, Ph.D.

Marietta, Georgia


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



To facilitate students' thinking and problem-solving skills, this lesson tasks students with turning a plot scaffold into a written narrative. Students learn kinesthetically by acting out the scaffold "script" while collaborating with others to determine character motivations and dialogue. Students transition from actors to writers by having mental conversations with the characters they have created and letting their characters dictate how the story will evolve. Students are also prompted to insert imagery and use proper grammar in their written narrative.

back to top



Character Trading Cards: This easy-to-use tool allows students to develop characters to use in their narratives.

back to top



O'Day, S. (2006) Setting the stage for creative writing: Plot scaffolds for beginning and intermediate writers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Plot scaffolding involves turning a narrative plot into an open-ended play script in which students write their own dialogue and imagery in order to learn style and create a new story.

  • Plot scaffolds improve students' narrative writing because, as they complete the scaffold and physically act it out, students learn to write affective dialogue and imagery that drives the story, making the plot more active and engaging to the reader. Students "see" and "feel" what may otherwise be abstract or unfamiliar concepts in print.

  • Plot scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students in moving to levels of language performance that they might be unable to obtain without scaffolding. Because it is constructivist, scaffolding is especially useful for English-language learners as it builds from their individual language level.

  • Plot scaffolding enables English-language learners to practice reading fluently and aids transition into English. Play is a very powerful tool in second-language learning. Physically acting out a story uses nonverbal communication, and repeating lines in a script allows English-language learners to "rehearse" or practice English in a formative way.



Wagner, B.J. (1998). Educational drama and language arts: What research shows. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

  • Creative drama promotes problem solving, characterization, and imagery.

  • Drama enables participants to look at reality through fantasy and to see below the surface of actions to their meaning.

  • Drama is powerful because its unique balance of thought and feeling makes learning exciting, challenging, relevant to real-life concerns, and enjoyable.

  • Children bring to the classroom the universal human ability to play, to behave "as if," and to think spontaneously and learn kinesthetically.

back to top