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This lesson provided by:
Author: Deidra W. Crain
System:Tuscaloosa City
School:Paul W Bryant High School
Lesson Plan ID: 33028

Beyond Plot Summary Part 1: Critical Thinking and Writing About Plot Development


Students will delve into discussion and writing about plot development, including generating their own reflections, original ideas, and influences on how events interact and shape character, mood, tone, and conflict.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

Content Standard(s):
ELA2013(9) 1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.9-10.1]
ELA2013(9) 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. [RL.9-10.3]
ELA2013(10) 1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.9-10.1]
ELA2013(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. [RL.9-10.3]
Local/National Standards:  
Primary Learning Objective(s):

Using the plot development toolkit, students will analyze a sample response on plot development, identifying and categorzing elements of an effective response. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):  
Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 31 to 60 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

Materials for both teacher and students:

  • plot development toolkit
  • model responses/exemplars
  • highlighters/markers/colored pencils
Technology Resources Needed:

For teachers:

Technology is not required, however, an interactive whiteboard and document camera would be ideal.

For students:

If technology is available, having students digitally annotate and label and/or highlight model responses would be ideal from a computer, tablet, or slate using a stylus and sharing online.


Students must be able to identify, explain, and support elements of plot including exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, and falling action. Students must also be aware of the Essential Question for the unit or series of lessons, as well as possible themes for the text.


1. Create a word splash or brain map on the board (or projector, document camera, etc. The website and app Popplet would be a great way to integrate technology.). The word "propel" will be in the middle of the board, and students should be instructed to create the word splash or brain map first on their own paper. Students should write whatever comes to mind when they think of the word "propel." Examples may include the following: propellor, fly, move, plane, helicopter, boat, etc. After about 2-3 minutes of brain storming and creating their own word maps, ask students to Pair and Share their maps with a neighbor. As they pair and share, circulate around the room and select students to go to the board and add an idea to the word map. 

2. After about two minutes to Pair and Share and after all selected students have added their ideas to the board, call the class back to attention and discuss their ideas. Ask questions such as:

  • Using what you see on the board, how would you define "propel?" What does a propellor do? For a plane? Boat? Helicopter?(Students' responses might include "move," "guide," etc.)

After a brief discussion of possible meanings of propel, perhaps 2-3 minutes as a class, draw attention to the student outcome for the day: Today we will be discussing how events propel the plot, or move it forward.

3. Teacher mini-lecture:  Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Additionally, you know that all stories have an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. A story cannot progress from beginning to end, or from exposition to resolution, without action or events. It is these events that move a story from beginning to end and make up the plot, in the same way a propeller moves an aircraft, boat, or helicopter in the direction it needs to go. (Lecture notes included in attachment)

During this time you might wish to have students take Cornell Notes with specific examples, elaborations, and text specific information you determine to include in your mini-lecture. The mini-lecture should last no more than 10 minutes.

4. Explain the plot development "toolkit" (attached). Discuss how an effective written response analyzing and explaining plot development will include all of the elements listed in the plot toolkit.

5. Model a sample response to the following prompt using your text of choice: How does the plot develop over the course of (chapter, scene, short story, etc.) from your chosen text? Be sure to cite specific examples from the text to support your analysis (model responses are included in attachments). Using five different color highlighters or markers, identify and label each element of the effective response in a different color.

6. Ask students to use their plot development toolkit and your sample response to identify and label and/or highlight each element of the effective response in the second model response/exemplar.

7. Have students Pair and Share their highlighted/labeled model responses, explaining to each other why they highlighted or labeled specific parts.

8. Share out as a class, perhaps putting a few students' papers on the overhead/document camera, discussing the model responses' labels, and why each addresses the elements of an effective plot development response.


Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download. PlotDevelopmentNotesOriginal.doc
Assessment Strategies:

Teacher should conduct informal observations and questioning while circulating around room as students work.

Teacher might choose to score the annotated/highlighted and labeled responses for correct answers, since there are five parts to each effective response which students should identify. If not, in Part 2 of Beyond Plot Development, students will write and annotate their own papers and classmates' papers for elements of plot development toolkit, if the teacher would prefer to assess independent practice rather than guided practice.


The elements in the plot development toolkit can also be applied to theme, character, and setting development.


The teacher might choose to highlight the different elements contained in the model response and have the students label them, before having students do both identifying and labeling.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
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