1. Begin class with the overhead projector ready with a blank
transparency and a wet erase marker at hand. Tell the
class that they are going to look at the components
the class if they can define plot (the events in a story
to the class that any text that tells a story has
a plot. One example would be found in a film script.
Also explain that as the plot or story line unfolds,
there is a certain pattern of events which is generally
After this brief introduction, ask the class what movies
they have seen lately. List some of these, and try
one that you and the majority of the class members have seen.
the class to describe the events of the movie, while you
list the most important events (preferably the six
elements of the
to the class that the plot line of this movie has six
parts, namely the 1) exposition, 2)
3) rising action, 4) climax, 5) falling action, and 6)
resolution. Instruct the class to take notes on these
each of these terms to its corresponding event in the
film students have described. Ask the students
then determine the significance of each of the six
terms. Help the class to formulate definitions.
Explore the correct definitions of each of the six parts
of the plot
line with the class, encouraging students to
make corrections in their notes where needed.
the class to draw
into the notes a plot line diagram, which you will model
for them on the overhead. The best model to use is the
triangle model or the “hill” shaped curve,
which begins as a straight line that gently curves
up at about a 45 degree
angle into a hump that slopes down into a straight line
again (see Plot
Line Diagram). Ask the class to help
a plot line diagram using the short story “Total
the students have read the week before.
If needed, spend a few minutes reviewing the story,
or allowing the class to re-read it. Then, ask the class
try and identify
the exposition (How does the story begin? What is the
setting?). Identify the conflict (there are several in
this story - e.g.,
the problem of finding food, avoiding death).
identifying the rising action, since the parameters
of this part of the plot are somewhat vague. The rising
the events leading up to the climax (the rising action
in this story would be the brief discussion between
Jim). The climax is usually easy for students to identify
(the moment the narrator is shot). Wrap up by identifying
action (the narrator ponders the meaning of the events
of his life) and the resolution (the author dies).
have been plotted on your model plot line diagram
(on the overhead) your students should have a pretty
of what the diagram’s
purpose is: to simply outline and summarize a story.
If time allows, at the end of the class period
assign another short story that the students can read in 5
to 10 minutes. Have them compose a plot line diagram of the
story. This can also serve as a homework assignment.