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Teaching Plot Structure through Short Stories
|Grades||9 – 10|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions|
Yankton, South Dakota
There's more to plot than identifying the series of events in a story. After viewing a PowerPoint presentation on plot structure, students identify the significant events that shape the structure of a familiar fairy tale, "Jack and the Beanstalk," using an online graphic organizer. Students then read short stories as a whole class, in small groups, and, finally, individually, analyzing the plot of three different short stories using an online graphic organizer to diagram the structures.
Elements of Plot PowerPoint Presentation: This PowerPoint presentation introduces the basic elements of plot structure.
Plot Diagram Interactive: Students can use this open-ended online tool to graph the plot of any story.
As Carol Jago explains, "It's easy to ‘teach' literary terminology and devise quizzes on the terms, but to make the language of literature useful to readers, students need to practice using academic vocabulary in ways that deepen their understanding of how stories work" (51). Emphasizing the connection between reading and writing, this lesson combines collaborative, small-group, and individual learning activities using literature circles and group investigations, as suggested by Harvey Daniels and Marilyn Bizar, to give students the opportunity to apply the literary terminology related to plot structures to short stories that they read together and individually.
Daniels, Harvey and Marilyn Bizar. 1998. Methods That Matter. York, Maine: Stenhouse.
Jago, Carol. "Stop Pretending and Think about Plot." Voices from the Middle 11.4 (May 2004): 50-51.