Recurring Lesson

Using Story Innovation to Teach Fluency, Vocabulary, and Structure

3 - 6
Lesson Plan Type
Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 45-minute sessions
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This lesson gives students an opportunity to practice comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency and to explore story elements in a fun and unique way through a strategy called story innovation. Story innovation takes a text and allows the students to change characters, setting, and story elements to make a personalized version of the story. The story is then read aloud to reinforce the student's fluency skills with a now-familiar text. The students then compare and contrast their story to the original. The story innovation strategy allows for many different adaptations for subject and grade. Pick your favorite story, and have your students adapt it in any way that you choose.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Knowledge of story structure assists with a student’s reading comprehension and ability to make connections to the text.

  • Story innovation supports student’s vocabulary and fluency development in the classroom.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Two copies of All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan or a text of your choice (1 original and 1 with vocabulary words whited out)

  • Interactive white board, chart paper, chalkboard

  • Computers with Internet access or tablet devices



  1. Obtain a copy of All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan or choose from Suggested Texts for Story Innovation. Make a copy of the story text for each student, and white out vocabulary/characters.

  2. Add vocabulary words to T-Chart and print a copy for each student.

  3. Print the Character Map and Setting Map sections of the interactive Story Map.

  4. Create a sample story innovation changing the characters, setting, and vocabulary specific to your favorite place.

  5. If necessary, reserve time in computer lab.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Create a story innovation by changing the setting, characters and vocabulary words

  • Develop fluency and an understanding of text structure by reading aloud their created story innovations

  • Demonstrate differences in setting, characters, and vocabulary by comparing and contrasting story elements

  • Examine their understanding by self-evaluating with a rubric and participating in a whole-class setting

Session 1: Preparing for Story Innovation

  1. Ask students to think about their favorite places. Where do they like to spend time with their families? What places are special to them? Ask them to picture the places in their minds. Ask students to keep this in mind as story is read.

  2. Read the story aloud to students, modeling fluent reading and think-aloud strategies. Share with students what this book makes you think of; including your favorite place.

  3. Discuss how the author shared the character’s favorite places with the audience.

  4. Ask students to help you to complete a simple story map on chart paper with three categories: setting, characters, and events in the story.

  5. Explain the idea of story innovation to students. Story innovation changes the characters, setting, and some vocabulary to become specific to their favorite places. The plot in the story remains the same.

  6. Give students a copy of the text. Ask them to highlight any characters or words specific to the farm in the book that will need to be changed. Read the story aloud again.

  7. Hand out copies of the character map and setting map from the interactive Story Map. Ask students to think of their favorite place and to fill in these printouts for their story, including specific characters from their families and specific places from their lives.

Session 2: Creating the Story Innovation

  1. Review the story and story maps from last session. Share your story innovation with the students based on the book and your favorite place. Emphasize how the characters, setting, and vocabulary words have changed in your story, but the story structure remains the same.

  2. Model for students in a whole-class setting how to use the T-Chart using your favorite place.

  3. Using students’ character map and setting map printouts from the story as a reference, complete the T-Chart with “farm” words on the left and their words on the right, specific to the setting and characters they choose.

  4. Give students the copy of the text where the “farm” vocabulary and setting have been taken out. Ask students to begin working on their story by changing the setting, vocabulary, and characters. Students should substitute their own words in the text.

  5. Ask volunteers to read completed story aloud to the group. Students will then read their story innovation to a partner.

Session 3: Compare and Contrast/Evaluate

  1. Review story innovations and how students have created their own stories by changing characters, setting, and specific vocabulary words.

  2. Ask the students to use the online Venn Diagram or the Venn Diagram mobile app to compare and contrast their story to the original text, focusing on the differences and similarities between the characters, setting, and vocabulary words.

  3. Once students have completed their Venn Diagrams, they should print the final work and share it with a partner.

  4. Ask students to self-evaluate by using the Venn Diagram Rubric. Collect the printed Venn Diagrams.


  • Students can create a Stapleless Book with or without illustrations of their story.

  • Have students change the dialogue within the story, which can alter the plot even more.

  • Create a story innovation for content areas. For example, in social studies, students choose a time period and place in history, such as Colonial New England. Or for science, students choose a specific biome for the setting and use vocabulary and characters specific to that biome, such as rainforest animals and vocabulary.

Student Assessment / Reflections

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