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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Story Elements Alive!

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

 
Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Andrea Kent

Mobile, Alabama

Tiffany Inzina

Mobile, Alabama

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Use prior knowledge and the authors' text to construct meaning

  • Demonstrate understanding of story elements through the successful completion of each session's activity

  • Identify the characters, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, and end of different stories

  • Apply what they learned to create a character map, setting illustration, problem/solution graphic organizer, events graphic organizer, and story map

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Session 1

1. Tell students that you are beginning a lesson on elements of narrative story. Engage in a discussion about narrative text. Tell students that it is important for them to be able to recall the basic elements of a narrative story as they are reading. Explain that knowing these elements will provide the foundation they need to think more deeply about stories. Tell students that they will learn about the following story elements:

a. Characters-people (or other animals, robots, objects that the author gives life-like qualities to) presented in the narrative text via descriptions of their attributes, traits, or abilities

b. Setting-the place and time in which the story takes place

c. Problem and solution-the conflict that takes place during the story

d. Plot-the sequence of events (beginning, middle, and end) that involves the characters in conflict

2. Tell students to close their eyes and think of three ways to describe themselves. Call on a few students to share their ideas. Next, have them close their eyes and think of three ways to describe one of their friends. Explain to students that an author describes the characters in their stories just like they described themselves and their friends.

3. If a whole-group meeting area is available, call students there based on physical characteristics such as hair color, eye color, or shoe color. Tell students that physical characteristics are one way that authors help readers paint visual images (or see pictures) of characters in their minds. If you need to allow students to remain in their seats, call out various physical characteristics and have students raise their hands if the trait describes them. This activity will allow them to begin thinking about how physical characteristics describe and identify them.

4. Explain that characters are the people, animals, or other living things that are involved in a story. Characters can be described by appearance or actions. Say, "Today I am going to read a story about a mouse that is starting school. As I read, I want you to think about ways you can describe the character like you described yourself."

5. Read aloud Chrysanthemum, stopping to think aloud at the points where you have placed sticky notes as reminders (see Preparation, Step 4).

6. After reading, ask students to describe Chrysanthemum. Write down their ideas on chart paper in a format similar to the Character Map from Education Oasis: Character and Story Graphic Organizers.

7. Discuss the ideas being generated for the Character Map. Although it is best if discussion is initiated by students' responses, discussion prompts could include ideas about Chrysanthemum's feelings, physical characteristics, and actions. Explain to students that they will complete their own Character Map about Chrysanthemum with a partner.

8. Pair students by hobbies or foods they enjoy, such as reading, football, fishing, swimming, dancing, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, math club, pizza, chocolate, and so on.

9. Distribute another copy of the Character Map and have students sit with their partner to complete it. Circulate around the room as students work, providing feedback and assistance as necessary.

10. Call on a few students to share something they learned during the session. Tell students that good readers think about the characters as they read a story because it helps them to know the character well, thus understanding the story better. Ask them to think about characters during independent reading and see if they can make any personal connections.

11. Tell students that they will all be allowed to visit the computers in your classroom or computer lab to complete activities on a website. Briefly demonstrate the use of Storyline Online.

12. Divide the class by five and tell one-fifth of your students to choose a story to listen to on Storyline Online and complete a Character Map for one of the characters in the selected story. Tell students to turn in the completed activity to you when they are finished. If necessary, work with a technology teacher, computer lab aide, or another teacher to manage taking/sending students to the lab.

The rest of the class will engage in independent reading time. They may simply spend the entire time reading independently, or they may read and then complete the daily activity again with a book (or chapter of a book) based on their independent reading level.

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Session 2

1. Ask students to describe the classroom. Let a few students describe something they see. Guide a discussion about setting by saying, "If we were characters in a story, then our classroom would be the setting. It is where our story takes place. The setting can be location, weather, or time." Show students pictures of different settings (see Preparation, Step 3).

2. If a whole-group meeting area is available, call students to the meeting area. Otherwise, allow students to remain in their seats. Remind students that the setting is where and when a story takes place. Tell students that sometimes rather than telling readers exactly what the setting is, authors give clues about the setting through the pictures or the language in the story. When they do this, authors require readers to infer the setting(s) or guess from the available clues.

3. Tell students that you are going to read What If? by A.H. Benjamin and that they should pay attention to the pictures and what the author says about the setting.

4. Read aloud the story, stopping to think aloud at the points where you have placed sticky notes (see Preparation, Step 5).

5. After reading, ask students to tell you things about the setting of the book. You may need to prompt them with questions such as "What time of day is it?" "Where are they?" or "Did the author tell us the name of the farm?"

6. After students have had time to discuss the setting, divide them into groups of three or four. Consider the students' literacy abilities as you divide them, making certain you have a range of reading levels in each group. Give each group a piece of poster board and instruct them to draw and color a picture to represent the setting of the story.

7. Tell students that when their group is finished drawing, they should write two or three sentences describing their illustration.

8. Circulate around the room as students work to provide assistance as needed.

9. Have each group share their drawing with the whole class. Display the drawings in the room.

10. Tell students that good readers think about the setting as they read a story because it helps them to understand the story better. Ask them to think about setting and how it is important to the content of the story during independent reading.

11. Tell another fifth of your students that they will have the opportunity to draw a picture of the setting from a story that they listen to on Storyline Online. Tell students to turn in the completed activity to you when they are finished. The rest of the class will engage in independent reading time.

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Session 3

1. If a whole-group meeting area is available, call students to the meeting area. Otherwise, allow students to remain in their seats. Tell students a familiar story, such as The Three Little Pigs, stopping after you introduce the problem. Ask students what the problem is in the story, and give them time to answer. Then continue telling the story. At the end, ask students how the problem was solved, and give them time to answer.

2. Tell students that many times the problem is introduced at the beginning of the story and that the main character has to figure out how to solve the problem, which is called the solution. The solution generally happens at the end of the story.

3. Ask students to think back to when you read Chrysanthemum and to identify the problem in that story. Give students time to share their ideas. Then ask, "How was the problem solved?" Allow time for discussion of the solution.

4. Read aloud the story A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon stopping to think aloud at the points where you have placed sticky notes (see Preparation, Step 6).

5. After reading the story, ask students to think about the problem of the story. Let them share their thoughts and ideas. After discussing the problem, ask students to talk about the solution.

6. Write students' ideas on chart paper using a format similar to the Problem and Solution handout.

7. Show students the Problem and Solution handout. Tell them to draw a picture to illustrate or write two to three sentences to identify the problem in the story in the top box. In the bottom box, tell the students to draw a picture to illustrate or write two to three sentences to describe how the problem was solved. Send students back to their seats to work on the sheet.

8. Circulate around the room to monitor and assist students as they work.

9. Ask volunteers to share with the class something they learned regarding the narrative element of problem and solution.

10. Tell students that good readers think about the problem and solution as they read a story because it helps them understand the story better. Ask them to think about problem and solution during their independent reading.

11. Tell another fifth of your students that they will have the opportunity to complete the Problem and Solution handout as they listen to a story from Storyline Online; they should turn in their work when it is finished. As previously, the rest of the class will engage in independent reading time.

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Session 4

1. If a whole-group meeting area is available, call students to the meeting area. Otherwise, allow students to remain in their seats. Pair students by having them turn to the person sitting to their right. If there is a single student at the end of a row, have him or her partner with a person at the beginning of the next row. If there are an uneven number of students, one group can have three members.

2. Have students think about their ideal Saturday. Ask them to turn to their partners and describe their day from beginning to end. Ask a few volunteers to share their descriptions with the whole class.

3. Explain to students how the order of events in a story is important for the story to make sense. For example, in the beginning of a story the author introduces the characters and setting and presents a problem. In the middle of the story, the author adds events. At the end of the story, the author presents the solution. Explain that these elements and the ways they are introduced get more complex as stories increase in reading level.

4. Read aloud Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and stop at the following points to show students the concept of beginning, middle, and end (see Preparation, Step 7):
  • Stop after "...so he was sent to bed without eating anything." Explain to students that this is the beginning of the story.

  • Stop after "...so he gave up being king of where the wild things are." Explain to students that this is the middle of the story.

  • Finish reading the story, and ask students how the story ended.
5. Ask students to remind you what happened in the beginning of the story. Write their ideas on a piece of chart paper. In succession ask them what happened in the middle of the story and at the end of the story, and also write these ideas on the chart paper.

6. Have students return to their seats if they have been in the whole-group meeting area. Pass out the pieces of white construction paper. Show students your sample flip book (see Preparation, Step 8) and go through each step with them to make their own. Tell students to draw a picture under each flap of what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of Where the Wild Things Are. Tell them to add a sentence to describe each part. Circulate and offer help while students work.

7. Call on a few students to share something that they learned about the importance of the order in which the author presents the story. Remind students that during their independent reading they should think about the beginning, middle, and end of the story and how these elements are important to understanding the story.

8. Tell the next fifth of your students that they will have the opportunity to make a flip book for the beginning, middle, and end of a story as they listen to a story from Storyline Online. Tell students to turn in the completed activity to you when they are finished. The rest of the class can engage in independent reading time.

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Session 5

1. Ask students if they have ever had a pet fish, and let them share their stories. Ask students to tell you what fish look like, and give them time to share their thoughts. Then tell them that they are going to hear a story about a fish that looks like a rainbow.

2. If a whole-group meeting area is available, call students to the meeting area. Otherwise, have students remain in their seats. Tell them that they are going to use all of the things they have learned about narrative story and put them together. Tell them that after they hear a read-aloud of Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, they are going to find the characters, setting, problem, and solution in the story. Tell them that as they are doing this, they will also identify the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

3. Show them the cover of the book Rainbow Fish. Ask them, "What kind of problem do you think the fish could have?" and "What do you think will happen?" Allow time for predictions and discussion.

4. Read the story aloud, stopping to think aloud at the points where you have placed the sticky notes (see Preparation, Step 9).

5. After reading, write the words Rainbow Fish on the chart paper. Ask students to tell you a few things about the book Rainbow Fish, and write their responses on the chart paper as they discuss it. Ask students who the main character of the story is and record this information on the chart paper as well.

6. Ask students what the setting of the story is and ask, "What are some ways to describe the setting?" Discuss the setting of the story.

7. Ask students to tell you what the problem of the story is. Guide the discussion by having students talk about the Rainbow Fish and his attitude toward the other fish.

8. Ask students what the solution to the problem was. Discuss how the Rainbow Fish changed his attitude and that this attitude change made a tremendous difference in his life.

9. Finally, ask students to identify things that happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. For example, at the beginning of the story Rainbow Fish would not play with the other fish or share his scales. Then, the wise octopus told Rainbow Fish that he should share his scales with the other fish. Finally, at the end of the story Rainbow Fish gave away his scales, felt better about himself, and made new friends.

10. Show students the Story Map handout. Tell them that now that they know what characters, setting, problem, and solution are, they are going to put them all together on a story map. Show and explain each section of the story map.

11. Review the Self Evaluation Rubric for Story. Explain to students how to use it. Tell them they will use the rubric to score their work on the Story Map when they are finished.

12. Send students back to their seats if they have been in the whole-group meeting area, and pass out copies of the Story Map and Rubric.

13. Circulate around the room as students work. Students who finish early can begin independent reading, thinking about the story elements in the book they are reading.

14. Tell students that it is important to be able to recall the basic elements of a narrative story as they are reading. Explain that knowing these elements will provide the foundation they need to think more deeply about stories. Also, tell students that once they are able to remember the story elements, they may not need to write them down but that the purpose of completing the activities in these lessons is to help them remember and think about these elements. Remind students that as the narratives they read get more complex, these graphic organizers may be useful again.

15. Tell the final fifth of your students that they will have the opportunity to complete a Story Map about a story as they listen to one from Storyline Online. The rest of the class will engage in independent reading time.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Complete the lesson activities with more complex narrative picture books. Modify the graphic organizers to be used with multidimensional text. Guiding Readers and Writers: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy (Grades 3-6) by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (Heinemann, 2001) has an extraordinary list of picture books in the appendix to be used with upper-grade students.

  • Collaborate with a kindergarten or first-grade class, and teach your students to be teachers. Pair older students with younger students and have each older student read an appropriate book with a specific focus-character, setting, etc.-to a younger student. They can then work together to draw a picture of the specific focus.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

 

  • Observe student participation in whole-group session conversations. Provide immediate feedback by conversing with students.

  • During Sessions 1 through 4, circulate around the room as students work on the end-of-session activities. Work with individual students and small groups as needed. Make anecdotal notes to record specific additional teaching.

  • Review each student’s independently completed activity from his or her use of Storyline Online. Use the Conference Guide Form to offer feedback during 3- to 5-minute conferences with each student on the day following the completion of the activity. Address the students’ understanding of the concept and the importance of applying the knowledge in independent reading.

  • Review students’ story maps and copies of the Self Evaluation Rubric for Story from Session 5 to determine if they accurately evaluated their work. Provide feedback by making comments on the rubrics before returning them to students. Schedule individual conferences if necessary.

 

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