Narrative arcs and the prototypical “Plot Diagram” are essential for building literary comprehension and appreciation. Plot diagrams allow students to: pick out major themes in the text, trace changes to major characters over the course of the narrative, and hone their analytic skills. Lessons emphasizing these skills meet many Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA-Literacy
). The concepts not only give students a fuller understanding of classroom texts, but also their favorite books and movies.
Below is the basic structure of a plot diagram.
- Beginning [Exposition, Conflict]
- Middle [Rising Action, Climax]
- End [Falling Action, Resolution]
By plotting simple narrative arcs in three-celled storyboards, or more complicated stories in six-celled boards, teachers can easily assess students’ understanding of important story components. Combined illustrations and text can enliven difficult concepts like “rising action” and “climax.”
Making storyboards that explain a plot bring students' understanding to life! It's an engaging and fun way for students to interact with the texts they read in class. The details and characters featured in students’ storyboards allow instructors to immediately determine whether students comprehend the scope of the objectives.
Classroom Exercises and Book Reports
Some fun ways to teach this lesson using Storyboard That:
- Have students illustrate exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action, and resolution, in a six cell storyboard.
- As part of editing, have students diagram their own creative writing to find major plot points.
- Put an empty storyboard on an assessment, and require students to illustrate the plot points of a class text.
Relating to the Common Core
Analyzing a literary work with a plot diagram fulfills common core ELA standards for many age groups.
: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
More Examples of Plot Diagrams