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Activity Overview

A common use for Storyboard That is to help students 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 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. 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 Pit and the Pendulum” Plot Diagram Example


The narrator is standing on trial and receiving a sentence of death. He does not reveal the crimes for which he has been charged and found guilty. He sees black-robed judges issuing their judgment before he passes out.


The narrator is in and out of consciousness, but presently finds himself in a chamber of some sort. It is at first pitch-black so he is disoriented and unable to get a grasp of his surroundings. He does not know where he is, nor why he is there, although he is sure is related to his punishment. He supposes that he is in a dungeon in Toledo, Spain.

Rising Action

The narrator tries to explore the depths of his chamber, and almost slips and falls into a chasm at one end of the chamber. After falling asleep, the narrator awakens to find bread and water next to him, so he knows someone is attending to him. After falling asleep again, the narrator awakens and the chamber is lightly glowing. He sees that it is square, and the metal walls have hideous faces in them.


The narrator finds himself strapped to a board, leaving only his head and left arm free. He looks up and sees a figure of Time painted on the ceiling, but instead of his scythe, he is holding a razor-sharp pendulum. The pendulum swings back and forth, and which each vibration, comes closer to the strapped narrator’s chest. He realizes that the pendulum will eventually kill him.

Falling Action

The narrator almost accepts his inevitable death when he gets an idea to take the fragrant meat from the basket next to him, and to rub it all over the strap holding him down. The rats, attracted by the smell of the meat, jump up and gnaw at the strap until the narrator is free. As soon as he is freed, however, the walls of the chamber begin to move and become hot, so that they push him towards the chasm.


As the narrator again is faced with impending death, he screams in despair. Just as the walls are about to push him over the edge, he hears thundering trumpets. The walls retract, and he is saved by General Lasalle, who is leading the French troops into Toledo.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

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 Pit and the Pendulum”.

  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, 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.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.


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

Plot Diagram Rubric (Grades 9-12)
Create a plot diagram for the story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
25 Points
21 Points
17 Points
Try Again
13 Points
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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The Pit and the Pendulum

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