Activity Overview

Creating a plot diagram not only helps students learn the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop a 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. In this activity, students will create a visual plot diagram of major events in Friedrich's story in Echo. Students should identify major turning points in Friedrich's story such as the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution


Friedrich's Story

Exposition: Friedrich Schmidt was born with a birthmark that covered half of his face. While Friedrich's father, Martin, encouraged his creativity and reassured him, Friedrich's peers treated him horribly. To spare Friedrich, Martin homeschooled him. Friedrich was an apprentice at the Trossingen Harmonica factory alongside his father and his Uncle Gunter. However, in 1933, things were quickly changing for the worse in Germany with Hitler's rise to power.

Conflict: Friedrich loved music and dreamed of becoming a conductor. One day he heard a harmonica calling to him from an abandoned workspace. His Uncle Gunter had taught him to play harmonica and Friedrich could tell this one was special. He also played cello like his father, and his sister Elisabeth played piano. The family bonded over music. However, Elisabeth became brainwashed by Hitler's ideology, much to her father's great dismay.

Rising Action: Friedrich's father was outspoken about his opposition to Hitler. Because of this, Martin was arrested by Nazi Brownshirts and sent to Dachau concentration camp! People in Dauchau were tortured and worked to the point of death. Friedrich and Uncle Gunter made a secret plan to get him out and even risked asking the "Hitlerite" Elisabeth for her help in rescuing her father.

Climax: Elisabeth sent them money to bribe the guards at Dachau and secure their father's release. Friedrich knew he could not take anything of value on his mission. He placed his prized harmonica in a box at the factory to be shipped to customers somewhere in the world. When Friedrich boarded the train to Dachau he was spotted by Nazi soldiers! When they tried to arrest him, Friedrich heard beautiful music in his mind. He began to conduct his imaginary orchestra wildly!

Falling Action: In the commotion, the train began to leave the station. To avoid being stuck on the train, the Nazi soldiers jumped off, leaving Friedrich behind. He traveled to Dachau and rescued his father with the bribe money. Martin was badly beaten and malnourished, and it took months to recover. Martin and Friedrich made their way to Switzerland where they met Uncle Gunther and survived the war.

Resolution: Friedrich achieved his dream of becoming a great conductor and at the end of the novel in 1951, he is conducting a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. His father and Uncle Gunter are proudly in attendance in the audience. They still hold out hope to reunite with Elisabeth someday and they reminisce over how far they have come.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a visual plot diagram for Friedrich's story in Echo.

Student Instructions:

  1. Separate the story into the Title, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components using appropriate scenes, characters and items.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [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
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/5/5] Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Plot Diagram Rubric
Create a visual Plot Diagram that summarizes the story. The storyboard should have six cells: Title, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Below each cell, type in a description of that part of the story.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Cells include images that help to tell the story and do not get in the way of understanding. Descriptions match the images.
Descriptions do not always match the images.
Descriptions are missing or do not match the images.
Each of the six cells represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end.
Two cells or fewer are out of order, or the storyboard is missing important information.
Important information is missing and/or three or more cells are out of order.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is difficult to understand.

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