Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell have students create a scene that follows the novel in the sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Charlie Gordon, 32 years old and developmentally disabled with an I.Q. of 68, has been chosen for an experimental surgery to increase his intelligence. The doctors have told him to begin keeping a journal to record his thoughts and progress. The procedure has already worked on a mouse called Algernon, and the doctors are optimistic that it will be successful for Charlie, too.
The surgery is a success, and Charlie’s intelligence skyrockets. However, he finds that his emotional intelligence hasn’t kept pace with his intellect. He also begins to realize the cruelty with which his “friends” have been treating him. Charlie develops feelings for Alice Kinnian, but he can’t seem to find himself on the proper emotional level with her. Charlie is also plagued by disturbing childhood memories of his mother mistreating him.
Charlie leaves his job at the bakery because the others treat him strangely now, and with fear. They don’t understand the change that is happening in Charlie. Charlie begins to read voraciously and absorbs so much information that he quickly surpasses his doctors. He develops a sense of affinity with Algernon, and feels increasingly alienated from the people he interacts with, including Alice.
Charlie is taken to a scientific convention in Chicago where he and Algernon are being showcased. Charlie becomes increasingly perturbed as they show films and pictures of him in early interviews, which he had not been aware of. He also realizes that there is a mistake in the scientific process, and that they cannot say with certainty how permanent the change will be. He lets Algernon escape from his cage and takes him back to New York City, where he rents an apartment and lies low for a month. In the meantime, Algernon begins to regress, and Charlie realizes he doesn’t have much time left.
Charlie and Algernon return to the lab, where Charlie continues his research round-the-clock. Charlie finally submits his report, which concludes that, “Artificially-induced intelligence deteriorates at a rate of time directly proportional to the quantity of the increase.” Algernon dies, and Charlie goes to visit his mother and sister. He finds his mother is senile, and his sister Norma is her caretaker. He discovers how much Norma resented him, and has since resented her life as a caretaker for her mother. He and Norma reconcile, as Charlie knows he won’t be able to play the “big brother” role for much longer.
Charlie and Alice finally consummate their relationship before Charlie’s regression begins to worsen. They spend a few weeks living together before Charlie’s moods finally drive her away. His coordination, spelling, and grammar begin to worsen, He gets his job back at the bakery, but he decides to leave because he doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him. His final wish before going to live at the Warren Home is for someone to put flowers on Algernon’s grave, a symbolic gesture of remembering Algernon’s importance, along with Charlie’s.
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
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Create a visual plot diagram of Flowers for Algernon.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
| Try Again |
Descriptive and Visual Elements
Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.
Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.
Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.
Cells have few or no descriptive elements.
Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.
Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.
Work shows no evidence of any effort.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.
Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.
Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.
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