Updated March 27, 2018
I love that sequencing can seem like a really simple skill – just identifying the beginning, middle and end – but that it allows for a great deal of added depth: identifying the climax, the protangonist/antagonist, and other details.
It’s seeming simplicity also means my students were often surprised to discover that they didn’t always agree on what came first and second and third. I love lessons that give students a chance to form and argue an opinion, especially when there’s not just one right answer.
If Sequencing is a new idea or if students need extra help with this skill, before this lesson spend a class period getting some practice with the plot diagram. Use wordless stories such as Tuesday by David Weisner so they can practice identifying the beginning, middle and end without having to also focus on reading, decoding, etc.
You may also have the students use the plot diagram to tell a personal story or to briefly retell a favorite movie. Have a student share a short story out loud with the class (such as what they did after school yesterday). As a class, identify the beginning, middle and end. Model on a board or poster how the chart would look for that story.
|When working with older students, I do the same: introduce the more complex plot curve diagram and the related vocabulary starting with simple, wordless stories. I particularly enjoyed using the short video “Penguins” as a fun place to start.
Using children’s picture books can be a great way to practice. Find examples short enough to be able to read and diagram 2-3 within a class period. Use stories with events in chronological order or stories with more complex sequence of events depending on what your students are ready for.
I used this lesson and these diagrams when I taught middle school reading. I had the Plot Curve Diagram printed on poster-size paper, and it hung on the wall of my classroom all year long.
|Alternate Activity: Instead of having students complete the diagram individually, have them work in groups of 2-3 to identify the parts of the story on sticky notes which they then put on a copy of the diagram that is drawn or projected on the board. Have students compare their responses with those from the other groups. As a class, discuss any differences in responses.|
- Students identify and defend the beginning, middle and end events in a story or article
- Fiction (Can also be used with non-fiction)