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Activity Overview


A common activity for students is to 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 to reinforce major events and help students develop greater understanding for literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a story by creating a six-cell storyboard which contains 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.



"The Gift of the Magi" Plot Diagram Example

Exposition

Della and Jim, a poor couple, struggle to buy Christmas gifts for each other.


Major Inciting Conflict

Della has only $1.87 to buy her husband a gift, which is not enough.


Rising Action

Della decides to sell her hair for money so she can purchase a gift worthy of Jim. She gets $20 and can afford a platinum chain for Jim's heirloom watch.


Climax

Della and Jim exchange gifts. Jim has sold his watch to buy Della a beautiful set of combs.


Falling Action

They decide to put their gifts away until they can both use them.


Resolution

Despite their errors, Della and Jim remain love one another, and learn a valuable lesson about sacrifice and love.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative Arcs

Common Core Standards
  • [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/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of "The Gift of the Magi".


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, 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.



Rubric

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



Plot Diagram Rubric for Middle School
Create a plot diagram for the story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Proficient
33 Points
Emerging
25 Points
Beginning
17 Points
Plot Images
Cells include images that convey events in the corresponding stage of the plot. The images represent an important moment and exemplify the descriptions below them.
Cells include one or two images that convey events from an incorrect stage of the plot. Most images represent an important moment and exemplify the descriptions below them.
Cells include three or more images that convey events from an incorrect stage of the plot. Images depict minor and inimportant moments or do not reflect the descriptions below them.
Plot Text
The storyboard correctly identifies all six stages of the plot. The text for each of the six cells correctly breaks down the plot events into appropriate stages. The text gives a logical overview of the plot and includes the most significant events of the book.
The storyboard misidentifies one or two stages of the plot. The text for each of the six cells breaks down most of the plot events into appropriate stages. The text gives a logical overview of the plot, but may omit some significant events of the book.
The storyboard misidentifies three or more stages of the plot. The text for each of the six cells does not correspond to the events of that stage. Overall plot description is not logical.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is exemplary. Text contains few or no mistakes.
Text contains some significant errors in spelling or grammar.
Text contains many errors in spelling or grammar.




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