Lessons & Units :: America Street 6th Grade Unit

Lesson 4: Using Plot Elements to Retell a Story

Lesson Plan

America Street | 870L

America Street
Learning Goal
Retell a short story’s plot using the plot elements.
Approximately 2 Days (40 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Plot Puzzle Cut-Outs, Example Plot Chart for “Business at Eleven”, Retelling Example for “Business at Eleven”, Example Plot Chart for “Raymond’s Run”, Details List Teacher Example, Retelling “Raymond’s Run” Handout, Retelling Plot Chart (Student Packet, page 20 )
Not Provided: Scissors, chart paper, markers, America Street edited by Anne Mazer
  • Before the Lesson

    Read and complete the Student Packet Worksheets for “Business at Eleven,” “Raymond’s Run,” “Sixth Grade,” and “President Cleveland, Where Are You?”

  • Activation & Motivation

    Prior to class, cut out the Plot Puzzle Cut-Outs. To start the lesson, mix up the pieces and put them face-down on a desk. Ask the students to name some of the elements they remember, though they need not be in order. Explain that the pieces of the puzzle can be put back together to correctly show the elements of a plot. Tell students that they will work together to reassemble a plot organizer on the board using the plot puzzle pieces.

    Ask for the first student volunteer to choose a piece of the plot puzzle and have the student place the piece of the puzzle in its correct spot on a Plot Graphic Organizer. (If students are putting their puzzle pieces on a blackboard, they may tape the piece to the board. If you prefer to use a bulletin board, remember to gather pushpins so students can reassemble their puzzle pieces.) Continue asking for student volunteers to pick a puzzle piece and correctly place it on the Plot Graphic Organizer until the plot puzzle is complete.

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that we reassembled a plot organizer using the puzzle pieces to refresh our memories about the elements of a plot. A good writer or storyteller uses plot elements to tell a complete story, and a good reader will use these elements to retell the story to others. While a good retelling relays a story in sequence, it should do more than just list events (“and then this happened, and then that happened, etc.”). A good retelling will include an introduction to the story with details about how the story starts, identifying the problem, a description of how the action rises, what happens at the climax, how the action falls, and how the conflict is resolved.

    I will retell a story from America Street, “Business at Eleven.” To do this, I will fill in the plot elements on a Plot Chart for “Business at Eleven.” Then, I will use the plot chart to retell the story, using details from the book to describe what happened at each stage on the plot chart. Note: See the Example Plot Chart for “Business at Eleven” for suggested answers.

    For “Business at Eleven,” I will first identify the problem and use it to identify the rest of the plot elements. As I recall, the problem in this story is that Johnny doesn’t come to collect magazines for two weeks. I will write this in the Problem box on my chart. Next, I will identify the rising action. The rising action includes Johnny collecting old magazines to resell to customers. I will write this in the first Rising Action box on my plot chart. In the next box, I will include Johnny purchasing book rests so that his customers will remember him. The climax of the story is the point in which the reader knows how the problem is solved. This is when the reader realizes that Johnny and his family will be unexpectedly moving to Los Angeles because Johnny’s father met a woman Johnny did not know. I will record this as the Climax on the plot chart. What happens after the climax is called the falling action, and it includes the events that lead up to the resolution. Details that make up the falling action include Johnny talking about the problem with his client. Another detail in the falling action includes Johnny explaining that he will sell magazines in Los Angeles. I will record this in the Falling Action box on my plot chart. The resolution of “Business at Eleven” is that Johnny’s client reassures him that he will open the largest bookstore in the city, and Johnny walks away happily and energetically. I will record this in the Resolution box on my plot chart.

    Now that I have recorded the plot elements, I will retell the story using the plot chart, filling in each stage of the story with additional details. When you retell a story, you must pretend that the person who is listening to your story has never heard the story before. It is your job to include as many details as you think make the story important when you are doing a retelling.

    I will explain that a retelling can be done in oral or written form. To retell “Business at Eleven,” I will use my Plot Chart to write a retelling of the story. When I have completed my retelling of “Business at Eleven,” the person I have retold the story to should have a good understanding of the story. Note: You may read aloud the Retelling Example for “Business at Eleven” as reference.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How can I retell a short story using plot elements?" Students should answer that they can retell a short story by identifying its plot elements, such as rising action, problem, climax, falling action, and resolution. Then, they should write or tell the story using each element of the plot, and filling in the story with additional details from the text. They may retell a story orally or in a written format.

  • Guided Practice

    will work together to retell another short story from America Street, “Raymond’s Run.” We will identify the plot elements of “Raymond’s Run” together, recording them on chart paper. Note: Example answers can be found on the Example Plot Chart for “Raymond’s Run.”

    First we will identify the problem in the story and use the problem to identify the rest of the plot elements. We will think about the various problems in the story and then agree on the main problem of the story, which is that Hazel wants to win the race against Gretchen. Record the problem on the plot chart. Next, we will identify the rising action of “Raymond’s Run.” One of the first rising action details is that Hazel does not like to go to the May Pole event, and dislikes girly activities and fashions. She shows that she doesn’t like or respect girls who aren’t serious and strong like she is. Ask: "What other part of the story can be labeled as the rising action?" (Use the Plot Chart to guide students in identifying rising action details.)

    Next, we will identify the story’s climax. Ask: "At what point in the story do we know how the problem is resolved?" We will identify the point at which Hazel realizes that whether she wins or not, she could coach Raymond to be a winning runner. Now that we have identified the climax, we will identify the parts of the story that make up the falling action. Ask: "What happens after Hazel realizes that maybe it’s not that important to win the race?" We will identify two details that make up the falling action, such as “The announcer proclaims Hazel as the winner.”

    Finally, we will think about the resolution of the problem. Ask: "After Hazel realizes she wins the race, what happens?" We will discuss the question and guide students in understanding that the resolution is when Hazel and Gretchen realize that they are worthy of each other’s respect, and Hazel realizes Raymond could be a great runner.

    Now we will prepare to retell the story by taking turns recalling details and recording them on our Details List. Note: You may have students come up to the chart and write the details, or you may record details as the students orally recall them. See the Details List Teacher Example for sample responses. We will use our Example Plot Chart for “Raymond’s Run” and our Details List to write our retelling of the story on the Retelling “Raymond’s Run” Handout. Note: You may call on students to retell the various parts of the story, such as the beginning, middle, and end.

  • Independent Practice

    will work in small groups to retell either “Sixth Grade” or “President Cleveland, Where Are You?” Each person in your group will be responsible for independently filling out the entire Retelling Plot Chart by recording details for the rising action, problem, climax, falling action, and resolution. (See page 20 in the Student Packet.)

    Then, your group will use your Retelling Plot Chart to prepare a written or oral presentation retelling the story from rising action to resolution. If your group chooses to retell orally (in a skit format, a news format, or simply a storytelling format), you will each write your retelling on index cards and turn them into your teacher. The presentation, whether written or oral, must use the plot elements to explain what happened in the story.

  • Reflective Practice

    will read or present our retellings to the class. We will notice any differences between the retellings. Ask: "Do the retellings vary from group to group? Which details did some groups include? Leave out? Why? Why would a retelling vary?" We will also discuss why it is easier to retell a short story rather than a novel.

Build Student Vocabulary immaculate

Tier 2 Word: immaculate
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story The main character of “Sixth Grade” describes the homes of the teachers and students at the school she attended by saying that she “‘was madly jealous of their little red brick homes in neat little rows near the school with little Dicks, Janes, and Spots running around everywhere, of their housewife mothers who met them after school, of their crisp, immaculate box lunches with clean wax paper packages of Lifesavers . . .’”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) Immaculate means perfect and clean. When the main character of “Sixth Grade” described the teachers’ and students’ lunches as immaculate, she meant that their lunches were perfect and clean.
Students repeat the word Say the word immaculate with me: immaculate.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts My apartment was immaculate after I cleaned it. My shirt was not immaculate, because I spilled juice on it when I was eating.
Students provide examples What is something that is immaculate? Start by saying, “___________________ is immaculate because ____________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? immaculate
Additional Vocabulary Words briskly, liable, prance, sullen, nondescript

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

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