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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 Wringer. Students should identify major turning points in Otto's story such as the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution


Example Wringer Plot Diagram

Exposition: Wringer by Jerry Spinelli is the story of Palmer LaRue who has been dreading the day he turns 10. In his town, 10-year-olds get the job of "wringer" at the annual festival, Pigeon Day, where 5,000 pigeons are released from crates to be shot down in a competition for a sharpshooter award, which Palmer's father has won. The "wringers" run around the field and wring the necks of pigeons to ensure they're dead.

Conflict: At the start of the story, Palmer is exited that Beans, Mutto and Henry finally initiate him into their gang and call him "Snots". Beans is the leader and a cruel bully. Palmer wants to be liked by the gang and even discards his former friend and neighbor, Dorothy Gruzik, joining in the boys' teasing of her. A big problem arises when a pigeon lands on Palmer's windowsill and becomes his secret pet named Nipper!

Rising Action: The bully Beans can't wait to be a wringer and Palmer knows that Nipper would be in danger if the boys ever found out. They would also drop him as a friend. The only person Palmer can confide in about Nipper is Dorothy, as she is a true friend and also against the shoot. In one scene, Palmer even pretends to spit on the floor so that his teacher will make him stay after school for a week rather than face the gang.

Climax: The gang figures out that Palmer has a pet pigeon and Palmer is afraid they will come and kill it. He asks Dorothy to release Nipper while they're on a family vacation at the beach. He is devastated to lose his beloved pet but feels he did what he had to for Nipper. Then Pigeon Day arrives. Palmer asks Dorothy where she released Nipper and she says by the train tracks. Palmer is appalled because this is the exact place they capture pigeons for the shoot! Palmer has to decide whether to keep quiet and protect himself or stand up and save Nipper!

Falling Action: Palmer rushes to the shooting range and searches the crates for Nipper. He finally sees him being released and shot out of the sky in the air! Nipper falls onto the field. Palmer races to save his friend to the shock of the crowd. He scoops Nipper up in his arms and carries him through the field to safety disregarding the danger. The crowd looks on in awe. Palmer finally stands up for what he believes in and saves Nippers life.

Resolution: Nipper had a hurt wing, but he survived. As Palmer and Nipper walked off the field, another child reached out to pet Nipper and asked his father if he could have one. The Waymer newspaper wrote about Pigeon Day saying that it was a successful event which raised $34,000 for the public park. It also mentioned that there was an unexpected episode where one lucky pigeon was rescued by a "reckless lad".

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 Wringer.

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/W/6/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.
  • [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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