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Lesson Plan

Word Maps: Developing Critical and Analytical Thinking About Literary Characters

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

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Villanova d'Asti, Asti


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • Overhead or the blackboard

  • Student journals

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Literary Elements Map

Grades   6 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Inquiry & Analysis

Literary Elements Map

Students can map out the key literary elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution as prewriting for their own fiction or as analysis of a text by another author in this secondary-level interactive.


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Word map

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1. This lesson uses the short story "After Twenty Years" by O. Henry to introduce students to the comprehension strategy of characterization.
Story synopsis:
A policeman on the beat sees a man leaning in the doorway of a hardware store. The man explains that he is waiting for his friend Jimmy Wells, an appointment they had made twenty years ago. They were best friends, and the man waiting is sure his friend will show up.

The policeman walks away, and shortly after a tall man walks up to the hardware store and greets the man waiting. Incredibly happy to see his old friend again, the man begins walking along the street with him. Soon he realizes that the tall man does not look like his friend Jimmy. He is then arrested by the tall man, and given a note from the policeman. The note said that he had been at the appointment place on time, but had recognized his friend's face as wanted by the police. Since he did not want to arrest his friend, he found someone else to do the job for him.
2. Divide the story into two parts, the first part ending with the line, "It's an appointment made twenty years ago." The remainder of the story will be used as the second part (see the Instructional Plan, Sessions 1 and 2).

3. Prepare overhead transparencies with journal questions or be prepared to write questions on the board for student response. (See Sessions 1 and 2 and the Student Assessment/Reflections section for possible questions.)

4. Preview the Literary Elements Map so that you will be able to demonstrate how to use the tool before students work in their groups.

5. Preview Bridging the Gap: Group Work Rubrics and Checklist or RubiStar to access or create assessment rubrics for this lesson.

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