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.
By plotting simple narrative arcs in three-cell storyboards, or more complicated stories in six-cell 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. For narrative arcs for younger grades or other plot diagram templates, make sure to check out "Four Innovative Ways to Teach Parts of a Story".
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. Below are only two examples of ELA standards for different levels. Please see your Common Core State Standards for grade-appropriate strands.
ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2: 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
ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3: 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
Within special education there are varying degrees of abilities, including students who may have disabilities that have a minimal impact on their cognitive abilities. Those students for whatever reason may still be in a special education setting but won’t necessarily need significant modifications on something like a plot diagram. For the students that require minimal assistance a blank plot diagram with very little or no information completed may be the way to go. As the creator of the storyboard, the teacher can control just what information is provided and decide how much he wants to guide his students. Use the templates above as they are, or make slight adjustments to the templates.
For the Students Who Need a Little Guidance
Some students will need a little more guidance when it comes to a plot diagram. Students who struggle with reading comprehension may have difficulty picking out the different parts of a story. Often times details of the story can be lost in translation, so to speak. That is where a plot diagram with some leading information can be helpful. Incorporating the visual aspect into the storyboard prior to asking the students to complete the plot diagram gives them “clues” as to what they are looking for when completing the diagram. The visuals act as context clues for students so they can focus their energy on the appropriate information, as seen in the Holes Plot Diagram.