Have you ever felt frustrated by a story that seems to jump all over the place? Or struggling to keep up with action that moves from place to place? Think of how our students feel when they read complex novels with multiple characters and settings, it can be even more confusing for them. One way that teachers can aid students is through setting and character mapping. With these simple template storyboards, readers will be able to keep settings and characters well sorted, and they'll have their maps on hand for papers or test review!
Many define setting in literature as both the location and time, or the where and when, of a narrative. Settings can play a crucial role in a work and are often central to the plot. It is helpful for students to map them out to avoid confusion about what is taking place. This is especially true with stories that have multiple settings or timelines.
Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct, grade-appropriate strands.
Students will be able to create a setting map that discusses the key action that took place and how the setting foreshadowed the action.
Before reading it is a good idea to broadly define the setting of a story for students in terms of time and place. Background research may be helpful to students if they are unfamiliar with the customs of the period or region.
While reading, students can track the setting and how it changes through a setting map. A key feature of a setting map is placement of settings in sequence. Being able to visually see the settings helps students remember events and where they take place. After each setting, students should update their map to reflect the actions that took place, the setting’s features, and any predictions they can make based on what has happened so far.
As an assignment, students should create a storyboard that depicts one setting in each cell and explains the setting in detail. They could also find a quote that describes it from the text and incorporate a summary of important characters, conflicts, or actions that took place there.
With Storyboard That's extensive art library, it’s easy for students to edit these templates and show the events, actions, and foreshadowing they see when they read!
When I created this template, I had in mind that teachers would take these and make them their own. I spoke to Ms. Shipes, a 9-12 English teacher in Alabama who uses our product. She used the setting map template below and edited the text boxes to ask more specific questions about each setting. Using this in a co-taught class, she wanted to give the students guided notes so as not to overwhelm them with a box to fill out. Seeing other teachers taking these ideas and making them their own is so exciting, I can't wait to see what YOU do!
If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create setting map worksheets to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. They're helpful to keep in binders for test review! You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas.
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
The student effectively describes the setting by identifying the place, time, and atmosphere.
The student describes two elements of the setting.
The student describes only one aspect of the setting.
Role of Setting
The student effectively identifies how the setting contributes to the development of plot, characters, mood, and theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of two aspects of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
The student is able to identify how the setting contributes to the development of one aspect of the novel: plot, characters, mood, or theme.
Shifts in Setting
The student identifies how the setting shifts and the effect this change has on plot, character, mood and theme development.
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on two aspects of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
The student is able to identify how the setting shifts, and the effect this shift has on one aspect of the development of the novel (plot, character, mood, or theme).
Final product contains accurate visual depictions of setting and characters.
Final product demonstrates an effort to accurately portray settings and characters though some aspects are confusing and/or inaccurate.
Final product contains irrelevant images.
Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation
Final product is free of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
Final product contains up to three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar that do not alter the meaning of the text.
Final product contains more than three errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
Choose a literary text that prominently features settings that significantly impact the narrative. Identify the key settings within the text, considering their role in shaping the plot, characters, and themes.
Explain to students the concept of setting maps as visual representations of the story's settings. Highlight the purpose of setting maps in facilitating a deeper understanding of the text and its literary elements.
Guide students in creating setting maps either collaboratively in small groups or individually. Encourage students to include important details such as geographic features, landmarks, and symbols that represent each setting.
Facilitate discussions on the relationship between the settings and various literary elements such as characters, plot, mood, and themes. Help students analyze how the settings influence and shape these elements, discussing specific examples from the text.
Guide students in interpreting their setting maps, encouraging them to draw conclusions about the story's themes, conflicts, or character development based on their visual analysis. Prompt students to support their interpretations with evidence from the text and their understanding of the settings.
Provide time for students to reflect on their learning and engage in class discussions to share their insights from the setting maps. Encourage students to articulate connections between the settings and the deeper meaning of the text, promoting critical thinking and analysis.
Setting maps are useful tools for English literature lessons as they help students to visualize and better understand the settings of literary works. This understanding can lead to a deeper analysis of the text, its themes, and its characters. Additionally, creating setting maps can help students develop their visual literacy skills. It further aids in their comprehension of the plot, characters, and themes.
One issue that may arise when creating setting maps is the temptation to focus too much on visual details and not enough on the text itself. It's important to strike a balance between creating an engaging visual representation and ensuring that the map accurately reflects the setting as described in the text. Another issue is the potential for students to become overly reliant on the map and not engage fully with the text itself.
Using setting map activities can have real-life implications beyond the classroom. For example, architects and urban planners often use mapping tools to help them visualize and plan physical spaces. Similarly, historians may use maps to better understand historical events and the role of geography in shaping them. By teaching students how to create and interpret setting maps, educators are helping to develop skills that can be useful in a variety of fields.
Some common mistakes include including too much or too little detail, focusing solely on physical details rather than the emotional or symbolic aspects of the setting, using symbols that are unclear or unfamiliar to students, failing to accurately represent the setting or geography, and not considering the historical or cultural context of the story.