Creating a plot diagram not only helps students learn the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures. In this activity, students will 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: Title, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. The Lions of Little Rock has many different subplots, so students may interpret these parts very differently. The example given is just one way to interpret the plot.
Exposition: This story takes place in 1958/1959, the year that many schools were closed in Little Rock during the time of segregation. Marlee, who starts 7th grade in September, is shy and doesn’t speak up about much. However, when the lives of her friends and family are threatened, she has no choice but to be loud and outspoken.
Rising Action: Marlee befriends the new girl, Liz, and they decide to work on an oral presentation together. When the day of the presentation arrives, Liz isn’t there and Marlee gives it by herself, speaking in front of her class for the very first time. Later, Marlee learns that Liz is Black, but was trying to pass for a white girl so she could attend the school. Liz will not be returning to school.
Climax: Red finds dynamite and takes it with him. When Liz and Marlee find it in his car, they take all of it, except 2 sticks. Marlee and Liz continue to get together and hang out; they even have secret names for each other so they can talk on the phone. When they get caught, they are not allowed to see each other anymore.
Falling Action: Marlee and her mom go to Betty Jean’s house to drop something off, and Liz is there with Betty Jean’s son, Curtis. Marlee sees Red’s car drive by several times and warns everyone to get to the back of the house. He throws a brick to break the window, and then he throws the dynamite into the house.
Resolution: New school board members were appointed, and teachers who lost their jobs for belonging to integration groups were rehired. The following school year, schools reopened and a small number of Black students attended. Marlee and Liz remained friends, but would only be able to talk on the phone... for now.
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Objective: Create a visual plot diagram of The Lions of Little Rock
Grade Level 4-6
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards