Studying Elements of Plot

Lesson Plan Title:
Studying Elements of Plot in the Geronimo Stilton Series


Grade Levels: 2-4

Student Goal:

  1. Students will identify elements of plot in the Geronimo Stilton books.
  2. Students will understand how plot elements such as rising action, climax, and resolution
    can be successfully used to create a cohesive and engaging story.

Student Objectives:

  1. Students will seek out notable plot elements for class discussion.
  2. Students will provide meaningful reasons for their choices of notable plot elements.
  3. Students will make up plot elements while composing their own story.

Materials:

  1. Geronimo Stilton books

Directions:
With fast-paced action and engaging storylines, Geronimo Stilton books can be easily used in a lesson on plot elements. Prior to this lesson, assign a Geronimo Stilton book as independent reading so that students will be prepared to discuss it in class. You may also wish to read the book aloud in installments. Be sure they do the following as they read or follow along with you:

1. Ask students to use sticky notes to mark special places, such as the following:

  • a part that evoked plot-related questions (they can jot down their questions on the notes)
  • a humorous part
  • situations they could relate to
  • a part they would like to discuss
  • a part they didn't like
  • a very important or exciting part
  • a part with tension or suspense

2. Explain to students that a plot is a structure of events that make up a story. It describes the action and tells what happened to whom and why. A story would not be enjoyable and interesting to read without a good plot. A plot often has the following elements:

  • a beginning, where the characters, setting, and problem are introduced
  • the rising action, where the characters take steps to solve the problem in a series of events
  • the climax, or a high point where tension is at its peak and the problem is on the brink of being solved
  • the resolution, where the problem is solved
  • the falling action, which is a short ending that ties up the story's loose ends and provides a sense of closure

Help students identify the above elements in the book. Note that since stories often vary in complexity, not all of the elements may be found or clearly defined. They may also appear in a different sequence. After identifying the elements, ask students to use what they have learned to complete a Plot Diagram. Or you can use a Plot Sheet Conflict List or a Problem & Solution Diagram instead.

3. Ask students to look back over their sticky notes and point out parts they want to discuss further in depth. How and where did the author use tension, surprise, humor, etc. in exciting ways? Were there plot elements that were disappointing or poorly developed? If so, where, and how might they be improved? Have students explain their choices. Then invite volunteers to bring up plot-related questions they had during the course of their reading and encourage others to help answer them.

Lesson Extension:
1. Ask the class to develop a plot for a simple story about Geronimo Stilton. Have them decide on a setting, a possible problem, and suggestions on how Geronimo and his friends might solve the problem. Analyze the suggestions and narrow them down by pointing out why some of them might not work. (Reasons may include a lack of action or tension, an implausible resolution, etc.) Then choose a suggestion that meets the standards of a good plot (such as elements of suspense, situations one can easily relate to, and a well-defined goal) and narrate how it finally solves the problem.

Assess Students: 
Teacher Observation: Were students able to identify plot elements such as the story's rising action, climax, and resolution? Were they able to provide good examples of humor, suspense, and significant plot points?

Evaluate Lesson:
  1. Were the students successful or frustrated?
  2. Did the use of sticky notes help students identify and discuss plot points they found humorous, suspenseful, and overall notable?
  3. Were students able to demonstrate their understanding of plot components by devising their own story about Geronimo Stilton?

Assignment:
Have students write a book review about their favorite Geronimo Stilton book. Ask them to explain why the story's plot was so interesting and provide details about specific plot elements to support their viewpoint.