Saturday, February 21, 2015

Potential Plot and Plot Profile: Two organizers helping my students with challenging fiction

For several years my PLC has been fond of Probable Passage, a pre-reading activity by Kylene Beers that helps students become familiar with some of the words in a story and also engages them in predicting what the story will be about. With Probable Passage students get a list of words and then sort them into categories like characters, setting etc. (You can find more about this and more great pedagogy in her awesome book, When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12.)

I was getting set to show my students this activity, when I reflected on fact that data from their first semester final showed that many were still struggling with basic elements of plot like, exposition, rising action, climax and resolution. I began to wonder if I could re-imagine the probable passage activity to reinforce those concepts. What I came up with is the Potential Plot version.

This is a Google Drawing. You can use this link to get a "view only" version of the activity. Use File/make a copy to create your own version to use with your students. You can print it out or share it with your students digitally.

I had my students complete this in partners and then I asked each partnership to write their gist statement on a sticky note. That made it easy to post them all on a chart in the classroom.

Later in the unit, I used another version of this for my students who were still struggling with the main events of the text. By rearranging some of the boxes I created a blank Plot Profile that guided them through a structured summary of the main events. You can use this link to get a "view only" version of the plot profile.

These were popular with the other teachers in my PLC, but they immediately set me up for my next challenge, creating a similar activity that will work with the non-fiction texts coming up in our next few units. I will share those when I have them figured out.

Just made some adaptations to work for non-fiction arguments. Get it here> Likely Argument