Seventh Grade by Gary Soto

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category.

Seventh Grade Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Seventh Grade Include:

Gary Soto’s “Seventh Grade” is a wonderful text to begin the school year. A simple account of a boy’s first day in seventh grade, the story contains a realism that resonates with young readers. Students connect with Victor’s emotional highs and lows making this a wonderful story for teaching literary character development.

Seventh Grade Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

“Seventh Grade” Plot Diagram

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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

Example “Seventh Grade” Plot Diagram


Victor, a seventh grader living in Fresno, CA, arrives for his first day of school. He is excited to see Teresa, a girl he likes and hopes to impress.

Rising Action

Throughout the day, Victor talks to his friend Michael and attends his new classes. All day, he is distracted by the thought of seeing Teresa in French class. When French class finally arrives, Victor rashly claims that he can speak French and ends up speaking gibberish when his teacher asks for a demonstration. Victor feels humiliated in front of Teresa.


Victor’s agony comes to a head when he and Teresa are the last ones left with their teacher, Mr. Bueller. Teresa says she was impressed by Victor’s French, and it is clear she did not realize he had made it up. Victor waits in terror for Mr. Bueller to correct Teresa, but he does not.

Falling Action

Victor tells Teresa he knows just a little French from movies and books. Teresa takes an interest in him and suggests that they study French together.


Victor decides that he likes Mr. Bueller and that seventh grade is going to be a good year.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of "Seventh Grade".

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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”Seventh Grade” Text Connections

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Text Connections
Text to Text Connection that reminds you of something in another book or story
Text to Self Connection that reminds you of something in your life.
Text to World Connection that reminds you of something happening in the world.

Asking students to make connections to the text is one way to encourage active reading and improve reading comprehension. Text connections can also spark meaningful discussions about a story and its themes and can act as precursors to some essays. For this activity, have students use three storyboard frames to connect ”Seventh Grade” to themselves, another text (or film), and the world around them. Ask them to explain the connection in the text box below each frame.

Example ”Seventh Grade” Text Connections


One short conversation with Teresa changes Victor's whole outlook and puts him in a good mood. This happens to me too. When my mom made pancakes for breakfast on a school day last week, it put me in a good mood for the whole day.


Victor's eagerness to impress Teresa reminds me of Tom Sawyer. Tom tries to impress his classmate Becky by doing somersaults and walking on the fence.


The kids in “Seventh Grade” probably come from families of migrant workers or farm laborers since Victor refers to picking grapes over the summer. This reminds me of the migrant workers during the Great Depression who traveled to California looking for seasonal farming jobs.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows connections you have made with ”Seventh Grade”. Include a connection for text to text, text to world, and text to self.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Create an image for each connection using scenes, characters, items, and text boxes.
  3. Write a description of how the text relates to another text, the world, and you.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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“Seventh Grade” Direct and Indirect Characterization

“Seventh Grade” is a character-driven story. The protagonist Victor, his classmates, and his teachers are developed through both direct and indirect characterization. To help students master direct and/or indirect characterization, have them create a storyboard identifying examples of each in the story. Students can look for indirect characterization based on character actions, their comments, or others’ comments about them. Students looking for direct characterization will search for specific lines in which the narrator explicitly states particular character qualities. For each character trait, have students depict an appropriate scene, annotated below with the student’s observations or a direct quotation from the text.

“Seventh Grade” Direct and Indirect Characterization


Mr. Beuller is kind

"And Mr. Bueller is a good guy."

Victor is insecure and nervous around Teresa.

"Great rosebushes of red bloomed on Victor’s cheeks. A river of nervous sweat ran down his palms. He felt awful."


Mr. Beuller is kind

"Mr. Bueller shuffled through the papers on his desk, He smiled and hummed as he sat down to work. He remembered his college years when he dated a girlfriend in borrowed cars."

Victor is insecure and nervous around Teresa.

She smiled and said, “Hi, Victor." He smiled back and said, “Yeah, that's me.” His brown face blushed. Why hadn’t he said, “Hi, Teresa,” or "How was your summer?” or something nice.

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As a Mexican American who grew up in California, author Gary Soto bases many of his stories on his own life experiences. While “Seventh Grade” is not strictly biographical, it draws from Soto’s memories and surroundings. Like most of Soto’s writing, it includes details that reflect his heritage. For this reason, “Seventh Grade” is considered realistic fiction. For more information on Gary Soto, check out

Essential Questions for “Seventh Grade”

  1. How does Soto use direct and indirect forms of characterization?
  2. In what way do small events affect a person’s outlook and attitude?
  3. What makes “Seventh Grade” an example of realistic fiction?
  4. How is Victor’s school experience similar to or different from your own?

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•   (English) Seventh Grade   •   (Español) Séptimo Grado   •   (Français) Septième Grade   •   (Deutsch) Siebte Klasse   •   (Italiana) Settimo Grado   •   (Nederlands) Zevende Grade   •   (Português) Sétima Série   •   (עברית) כיתה ז   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الصف السابع   •   (हिन्दी) सातवीं कक्षा   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Седьмой Класс   •   (Dansk) Syvende Klasse   •   (Svenska) Sjunde Klass   •   (Suomi) Seitsemäs Luokka   •   (Norsk) Syvende Klasse   •   (Türkçe) Yedinci Sınıf   •   (Polski) Siódma Klasa   •   (Româna) Clasa a Saptea   •   (Ceština) Sedmá Třída   •   (Slovenský) Siedma Trieda   •   (Magyar) Hetedik Osztály   •   (Hrvatski) Sedmi Razred   •   (български) Седми Клас   •   (Lietuvos) Septintą Klasę   •   (Slovenščina) Sedmi Razred   •   (Latvijas) Septītais Grade   •   (eesti) Seitsmes Hinne