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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers

How Do We Create Plot Diagrams?

How can we create a plot diagrams for short stories?

Students will learn the different parts of a plot diagram, and apply their knowledge of story structure into a poster. They will then present their story/book to the class.

Exposition, Rising Action, Climax/Turning Point, Falling Action, Resolution

Created by Akiko Minaga
Location: Louis D. Brandeis High School
Grade: High School
Subject: English
Subject: Special Education

About the teacher
Akiko Minaga is a second year, Special Education high school English teacher at Louis D. Brandeis High school. She also teaches SETSS and Keyboarding.


First, the teacher will provide students with the definitions for the vocabulary/key terms. The teacher will then read aloud a fairy tale, legend, folktale or short story. If possible, students should also have the text to follow along during the reading. Then, either on the board or on chart paper, students will be guided through the structure of a plot diagram. The teacher will guide students in how to label a plot diagram using the story that was just read to them. Key vocabulary will also be introduced at this time. The final product of this model should be posted in a visible place where students may look and refer to it.

Now that students have been exposed to the structure of a plot diagram, students will be divided into groups of 2 or 3. Students will be assigned a book that they have already read this past semester. If this lesson is being done at the beginning of a semester, students will receive either a short children's book, or a short story (ex: works by Dahl, or Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes). Students will be in charge of filling out their worksheet (that asks students to summarize the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution), and creating a large poster on chart paper, using markers, that illustrates these concepts in a plot diagram.

The different groups will orally present their projects to the rest of the class. Students will be expected to take notes on their classmates' presentations.

Students will write a paragraph on another group's presentation. They will summarize the plot of the book and identify the different parts of the diagram.

Students will be graded based on the following:

  • On-task behavior
  • Working cooperatively
  • Quality and neatness of final product
  • Presentation preparedness
  • Creativity

Standards Addressed
New York State Standards for English Language Arts

Standard One: Students will read, write, listen and speak for information and understanding.

Standard Four: Students will read, write, listen and speak for social interaction.

This lesson is designed for Special Education and ELL students.

Overall Value
The best part of this lesson is the modifications. By introducing key vocabulary right away, and reading a story out loud, all students are introduced to the material, even if only some are familiar with certain aspects. This way, all students have the same amount of background knowledge. When dividing students into groups, reading material can be leveled according to students' reading abilities. Students can also be grouped so that reading levels are similar, or so that stronger readers are paired with people who need help. The poster helps visual learners, and the oral presentation in the end helps auditory learners.

Teacher Tips
Be sensitive to the material that is selected. Students will not want to work on material that can be seen as too babyish, even if it is appropriate for their reading level. If you desire to use children's books, have EVERYONE use a children's book.


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