> The Things You Can Read: Lessons: Elements of Fiction and Other Teacher Resources

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Lessons: Elements of Fiction and Other Teacher Resources

Elements of Fiction Presentation:

Short Story Elements - English Teacher's Friend

The lesson plan that accompanies this video is found on Flocabulary

Elements of a Story Lesson Plan

Lesson Objective: Define and identify the five elements of a story. Analyze a story to determine its elements.
1. Watch the free Flocabulary song, “Five Things.” When you finish the song, ask students to recall the five elements of a story.
2. Hand out the Five Elements of a Story worksheet. Ask students to write down the definition of each element to the best of their memory. Explain that you will show the video again soon for students to update or fill in any definitions.
3. Show the video again. Before you begin, ask student to record in their chart the definitions and a few examples of each from the song while they are watching. You may wish to pause the video after each element to give students time to write.
4. Hold a discussion of the five elements, where students clarify definitions. Ask students to brainstorm examples of each element from their previous reading and record them in the “Your Examples” column.
5. Read a short story of your choosing as a class. Any story–from a children’s book to a New Yorker piece–will work. You can find some classic short stories here. Using the second worksheet, record the five elements in that story.
Optional Extension Activity: Have students use the second worksheet to plan out an original story, and then write it! Your students can even write their story in rhyme with our Writing Academic Rhymes lesson plan.
What are you favorite short stories? 

DVD you might want to consider, if you are doing a very simple introduction to Elements of Fiction:

Lesson Packet for Elements of Fiction:

This is a complete Unit from Dewey Hensley on teaching the Short Story:

Quizlet Resource for Literary Terms:

Links for additional Resources to teach Elements of Fiction:

Complete reading logs--to use for independent reading time--includes literary elements
Somebody Wanted But So for plot development
Pages from Writing Prompts (CD of 1000 Writing Prompts)

Story Structure

What is Story Structure?

Stories contains parts. The way that theseparts are arranged creates the structure of the story. These structures shape both the audiences’ expectations and how the author will tell the story. When readers analyze the structure of a story, they look at the story as a mechanic might look at a car engine: readers identify the parts and see how they are working. Though not every story follows a predictable pattern, most do. This page explains conventional story structure.


The exposition “exposes” readers to world of the story. In the exposition, readers are introduced to the setting (time and place of the story) and some or all of the characters. The exposition ends when the conflict or problem is introduced.

Inciting Incident

The inciting incident ends the exposition. This is the moment when the conflict is introduced. A story isn’t much of a story if it doesn’t have a conflict; it’s more of a rambling, so most stories have a conflict. When the conflict enters the narrative, the exposition ends and the rising action begins. This moment is called the inciting incident.

Rising Action

Any event that occurs after the exposition but before the climax or turning point of the story is called rising action. During the rising action, the main character or protagonist of the story may struggle with the conflict but be unable to resolve it. If the story is comedic, the rising action is often a serious of unfortunate events for the main character. If the story is tragic, the rising action is often a series of favorable circumstances for the main character; however, at the climax the momentum of the story changes.


The climax is the turning point of the story. It is a common misconception that the climax is the most exciting part of a story, but this is not always the case. Rather, the climax is the moment in the story when the momentum or feeling of the narrative shifts. The main character may change, learn a lesson, or meet an important person, and this change will prepare the main character to resolve the conflict in the story. If the story is comedic, the main character’s situation will begin to improve. If the story is tragic, the main character’s situation may begin to deteriorate. Identifying the climax or turning point is the first thing that you should do when identifying the structure of a story. Doing so will allow you to separate all of the events into two columns: rising action and falling action. To find the climax, look for changes in the main character that may indicate a turn in the narrative direction.

Falling Action

Falling actions are events that occur after the climax or turning point of the story. The falling action of a story is often developed in one of two ways: if the problem of the story was solved during the climax, the falling action will simply “wind-down” to the end of the story; however, if the conflict was not resolved during the climax, the falling action may have the protagonist preparing to meet or address the conflict in an impeding moment of final suspense. To put it more simply, falling action refers to any event after the climax right up until the end of the story.

Moment of Final Suspense

A moment of final suspense occurs when the protagonist, after having experienced a change during the climax, meets or addresses the conflict. This is the last part in the story when there is tension, as the resolution of the story depends on the outcome of the moment. Not every story has a moment of final suspense, but many stories do.

Resolution or Denouement

The terms resolution and denouement refer to how the story ends. If the story had a moment of final suspense, the resolution will include all of the events that follow. If the conflict of the story was resolved during the climax, the term resolution may just refer to the final moments of the story.

The Future of Storytelling

What are the experts saying about fiction and its importance.  Watch this short film which answers the question:  How Can Fiction Change Reality? by Jessica Wise.

Story Structure Lesson Introducton

Characterizations Lesson

Characterization Prezi:  Here and Here

Teaching Theme

Identifying the theme of a story is a
higher order skill and requires the reader to make an inference. Consequently, some students have a difficult time identifying themes. Because this skill is frequently evaluated on state reading tests, it is important that your students identify themes with reasonable reliability. I find that properly teaching students how to identify themes goes a long way toward meeting this goal.
1. Properly Define Theme: students need to know that theme is the life lesson of a story or the author’s message.
2. Prepare Students To Infer: students need to understand that in most stories (with the exception of fables), the author will not tell readers what the theme or lesson of the story is. Readers will have to think about what the characters did wrong or right and what they can learn from the character’s experience.
3. Teach Students To Extract The “Big Idea”: One common mistake that students make when attempting to identify the theme is that they get hung up on the characters or events in the story. They cannot think beyond the small world elements of the story to extract the big world lesson of the theme. I will use the following short story as an example:
Tim hated his old baseball glove. He wanted to play with a new glove, but he didn’t have any money, so he decided to steal it. But when Tim got caught stealing the glove, his parents said he couldn’t play baseball all summer.
A student who understands the concept of theme is likely to give a response like, “The lesson of the story is that if you want something, you should work for it.”  A response like this shows that the student is processing the events of the story and extracting a larger idea, one which can be directly applied to someone’s life.  A student who doesn’t understand theme will fixate on story level events. For example, “Tim shouldn’t steal.”  While this response demonstrates comprehension of the text, it doesn’t show higher order thinking.  The student is stuck in the small world of the story and needs to take the mental jump to the big world idea.  Teaching students to distinguish between the small world of the story and the big world idea will help them to more accurately express their understanding of story themes.
4.  Give Students Practice Identifying Themes: While I encourage you to study and discuss themes in each story that you read as a class, immediately after learning about theme, students need a variety of examples with which they can practice.  I have created worksheets and activities where students identify themes in a variety of very short stories. Also, I have uploaded the PowerPoint slide show I used to teach theme to my students this year.
I hope these resources will help your students better understand theme and more consistently identify themes texts.
Theme Lesson

Teacher:  CWhite
Class Level: 
English 7
7th Grade English
Genre & Subgenre
First 9 Weeks

SOL Objectives:


7.5 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of fictional texts,
narrative nonfiction, and poetry.
a) Describe the elements of narrative structure including setting, character
 development, plot structure, theme, and conflict.
b) Compare and contrast various forms and genres of fictional text.  
c) Identify conventional elements and characteristics of a variety of genres.  
d) Describe the impact of word choice, imagery, and literary devices including
 figurative language. 
e) Make, confirm, and revise predictions. 
f) Use prior and background knowledge as a context for new learning.  
g) Make inferences and draw conclusions based on the text. 
h) Identify the main idea. 
i) Summarize text relating supporting details.
 j) Identify the author’s organizational pattern.
 k) Identify cause and effect relationships.
l) Use reading strategies to monitor comprehension throughout the reading process.

Communication: Speaking, Listening, Media Literacy

7.1 The student will participate in and contribute to conversations, group discussions, and
oral presentations.
a) Communicate ideas and information orally in an organized and succinct manner.
b) Ask probing questions to seek elaboration and clarification of ideas. 
c) Make statements to communicate agreement or tactful disagreement with others’
d) Use language and style appropriate to audience, topic, and purpose. 
e) Use a variety of strategies to listen actively. 



7.9 The student will edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
a)  Use a variety of graphic organizers, including sentence diagrams, to analyze and improve
sentence formation and paragraph structure.
b)  Demonstrate understanding of sentence formation by identifying the eight parts of speech and their functions in sentences.
c)  Choose pronouns to agree with antecedents.
d)  Use subject-verb agreement with intervening phrases and clauses.
e)  Edit for verb tense consistency.


Class Expectations
Review syllabus
Introductions-Three Word Introductions
Name Tags
Genres & Subgenres
Main Idea
Grammar-Year Long
Eight Parts of Speech
Focus on Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs
Writing-Year Long
Journal Writing
Writing a good, structured paragraph

Learning Objectives:  Student will be able to
Students will be able to identify all eight parts of speech by the end of the first nine weeks.
Students will be able to define noun, verb, adjective, and adverb by the end of the first nine weeks.
Students will be able to analyze/identify nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs used in a sentence.
Students will be able to identify various fictional subgenres genres.
Students will be able to respond to a journal prompt in a coherent, structured manner.
Students will be able to write a structured ten to fifteen sentence paragraph.
Students will demonstrate the characteristics of good readers.

DOL-Each day FIX THE SENTENCES, i.e. DOL exercise will be completed.  When applicable a connection to the BrainPops dealing with grammar will be made.

NOTE: If a DOL is not used a SOL review strand worksheet will be used as a Do Now.


Day 1

Modified Schedule-35 minute classes
Review syllabus for the year-student and parents need to sign the syllabus
Introductions-Three Word Introduction Activity
Name Tags?
Day 2
September 5 and 6, 2012

Do Now-DOL

Data Collection
Students will take the 2011 Released SOL Test the data collected will be used to make instruction focused on areas of weakness

Note:  I am unsure how much time this will take.  If students finish early we will start work through the lesson for Day 3

Note: If Students finish early finish nametags

Collection of notecards and syllabus homework

Day 3 and 4

Friday, September 7, 2012 and Monday, September 10, 2012
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 and Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do Now- DOL

Library Check out/and or STAR Testing in Lab A-1

Introductions-Three Word Introductions-Activity

Name Tags-for classes that have not finished

Genre & Subgenre-Introduction using PowerPoint
Genre & Subgenre-PowerPoint Packet-Group activity
Genre & Subgenre-Individual Activity

Parts of Speech
BrainPop-Review of Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs
BrainPop worksheet-Group Activity
Individual assignment

Main Idea

Journal Response

Homework-Main Idea

Day 5

Evidence of Learning (Assessments):


Quizzes/Test used to evaluate understanding of Genres and Elements of Fiction

Quizzes/Tests used to evaluate grammar and knowledge of parts of speech

Reflective Journal Entry in English Journal




IRony is a hard concept to teach.  I have developed a series of exercises I use at the beginning of class to help make the "AHA Moment" happen.  Here is an example of how I teach IRONY.  This  activity comes from my sister site  


Watch the following video carefully. Write your answer on the your index card.  Find at LEAST 2 (TWO) examples of IRONY in the short film.  Your answer needs to be in complete sentences.  Complete sentences, i.e. written with proper grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and with a subject and verb. Again, give 2 (TWO) examples of irony in the video and EXPLAIN why that event was IRONIC.

IRONY Workshets and PowerPoint

Happy Writing!
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of the Written Word!

Image Credit:  http://besottment.com 
General Resources

Great resource for anyone teaching English! 

Click on the link below:


Writing Resources

Click on the link below:

Research Resources

Click on the link below:

Big 6

 IIM: 7 Easy Steps to 
Successful Research for 
Students in Grades K-12

Click on the link below:
7 Easy Steps to Successful Research

We, here at The Things You Can Read, are gearing up for our return to the classroom, and have been scouring the Internet for resources, which we can use to add a bit of spice to our multimedia presentations and our classroom walls.  First, we have to say that we love quotes.  We collect them!  So, imagine our surprise to discover our most recent find.  Turn your most beloved quote into a stunning masterpiece using Create a Quote.  The Things You Can Read is really in love with this Internet tool, and to start the year off, we plan on having our students bring in their favorite quote, and make their own masterpieces.  Do you have a favorite quote?  Share it with us here at The Things You Can Read, and enjoy creating your own masterpieces using Create a Quote.


Boy, are we here at The Things You Can Read excited about this great find.  If you want to spice up your blog or your classroom multimedia presentations here is a resource for you, The newspaper snippet generator.   This free Internet tool can presto chango  your writing or that of your students, and make the words look like a real newspaper article.  Fun stuff!

Also on this site are links to The Movie Clapper Generator:

The animated Squirrel, Daffodil, Tomato, Owl...etc, etc, etc...
Have fun playing with these resources and let us here at The Things You Can Read know what you create with them.  We love to hear from our readership!

Happy Reading & Writing from the folks here at...
Did You Know?
Image Credit: olooa.blogspot.com/

As we, here at The Things You Can Read, were perusing the Internet, we came across a great little feature on Mental Floss.  We had some fun hitting the The Amazing Fact Generator a number of times as our brain was fast at work thinking...how we might use this in our English classroom?  We don't have an answer yet, but we would love to hear from our readership.  We'll throw the question out there.  Give us your suggestions-How can this great feature be used in a middle school English classroom?  Check out The Amazing Fact Generator on Mental Floss, and don't forget...have fun!

In early drafts of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly was named Connie Gustafson.


Read the full text here:

Image Credit: L. Frank Baum

In celebration of the The Things You Can Read's discovery of Create a Quote.  We thought we'd share a few quotes from the inimitable L. Frank Baum, the writer of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series.  Enjoy and think about creating a masterpiece using Create a Quote, and don't forget to share your masterpiece with us here at The Things You Can Read.

Quotes courtesy of Goodreads:
L. Frank Baum
“A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.

L. Frank Baum
“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”
― L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum
“Oh - You're a very bad man!"

Oh, no my dear. I'm a very good man. I'm just a very bad Wizard.”
― L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
“I shall take the heart. For brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.

― L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
“To be angry once in a while is really good fun, because it makes others so miserable. But to be angry morning, noon and night, as I am, grows monotonous and prevents my gaining any other pleasure in life.”― L. Frank BaumThe Emerald City of Oz

L. Frank Baum
“As a matter of fact, we are none of us above criticism; so let us bear with each other's faults.”
― L. Frank BaumThe Marvelous Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum
“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”
― L. Frank BaumThe Marvelous Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum
“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders.”
― L. Frank BaumRinkitink in Oz
L. Frank Baum
“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”
― L. Frank BaumThe Lost Princess of Oz
L. Frank Baum
“. . .It is the Law that while Evil, unopposed, may accomplish terrible deeds, the power of Good can never be overthrown when opposed to Evil. . .”


A Warning to College Profs from a High School Teacher

Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post article entitled "A Warning to College Profs from a High School Teacher".  The article is filled with memorable quotes to help those who are not in the classroom understand the realities of teaching in our public schools today.  
Please do not blame those of us in public schools for how unprepared for higher education the students arriving at your institutions are. We have very little say in what is happening to public education. Even the most distinguished and honored among us have trouble getting our voices heard in the discussion about educational policy. The National Teacher of the Year is supposed to be the representative of America’s teachers—if he or she cannot get teachers’ voices included, imagine how difficult it is for the rest of us. That is why, if you have not seen it, I strongly urge you to read 2009 National Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen’s famous blog post, “Teachers Should Be Seen and Not Heard.” After listening to noneducators bloviate about schools and teaching without once asking for his opinion, he was finally asked what he thought. He offered the following:
Where do I begin? I spent the last thirty minutes listening to a group of arrogant and condescending noneducators disrespect my colleagues and profession. I listened to a group of disingenuous people whose own self-interests guide their policies rather than the interests of children. I listened to a cabal of people who sit on national education committees that will have a profound impact on classroom teaching practices. And I heard nothing of value. “I’m thinking about the current health-care debate,” I said. “And I am wondering if I will be asked to sit on a national committee charged with the task of creating a core curriculum of medical procedures to be used in hospital emergency rooms.”
The strange little man cocks his head and, suddenly, the fly on the wall has everyone’s attention.
“I realize that most people would think I am unqualified to sit on such a committee because I am not a doctor, I have never worked in an emergency room, and I have never treated a single patient. So what? Today I have listened to people who are not teachers, have never worked in a classroom, and have never taught a single student tell me how to teach.”
What are your thoughts on how public schools are doing educating our children?  Are you concerned?  Why or why not?  Let us know your thoughts, here at The Things You Can Read.

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!


Bookish: A New Destination for Book Discovery

Simon & Schuster has introduced BOOKISH.  A new search engine to help you find your next read.  Check it out:  HERE

Discover Bookish

Let us, here at The Things You Can Read, know what you think of this new resource!

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!

Teaching the Research Process

Checkout out the NEW material that has been added to Titanic Research Project-Student Writing 2012 and 2013 Page.  Although this is a work in process, and we are still adding information there are some great links and PowerPoint presentations to aid in teaching the research process .  Visit Titanic Research Project-Student Writing 2012 and 2013 Let us, here at The Things You Can Read, know if these resources are useful!
Check out Stunning Images of the Titanic: HERE

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!

Happy Teaching!
Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!


The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools

The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools 

Here are a few quotes which are "food for thought" from the New York Times article entitled "The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools."

"Ask school officials to explain Union City’s success and they start with prekindergarten, which enrolls almost every 3- and 4-year-old. There’s abundant research showing the lifetime benefits of early education. Here, seeing is believing."
"From pre-K to high school, the make-or-break factor is what the Harvard education professor Richard Elmore calls the “instructional core” — the skills of the teacher, the engagement of the students and the rigor of the curriculum. To succeed, students must become thinkers, not just test-takers."
"From a loose confederacy, the schools gradually morphed into a coherent system that marries high expectations with a “we can do it” attitude. 'The real story of Union City is that it didn’t fall back,' says Fred Carrigg, a key architect of the reform. 'It stabilized and has continued to improve.'"
Take a gander at the full New York Times article.  What are your thoughts?

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!


Teaching English Using Film:  Resources

These resources come from Film-English:

Here are some useful cinema related websites:

Film Guides

ESL Notes

Raymond Weschler is a teacher who creates amazing film guides for EFL teachers and students. The guides consist of a synopsis of the film, a list of the main characters, explanations of the most difficult vocabulary and colloquial language, cultural references and discussion questions. These are the best film guides I’ve seen on the Internet. Guides are in Word, PDF and HTML formats.

Film Education

Film Education is part of the British Film Institute and they produce excellent film guides for primary and secondary school children many of which can be used with older EFL students. All the guides are in PDF format.

Film Scripts
Drew’s Scrip-o-rama

Hundreds of film scripts to download.

Daily Script

Another excellent site with links to hundreds of free, downloadable movie scripts and screenplays.


The Movie Sound Page

This site has sound clips from hundreds of movies, from The Lord of the Rings to The Wizard of Oz.

Listen to a Movie

1,457 movies that you can listen to.


The Lecturer’s EFL Smart Blog

A great site created by David Mainwood who provides film clips, lesson plans and printable worksheets to practise grammar through fun and motivating exercises. The site is regularly updated with new activities.

General Film Websites

The Film Site

An award-winning website which has excellent sections on the 100 greatest films of the 20th century, Best Film Quotes, Best Film Kisses, Scariest Movie Moments and much more.

The Internet Movie Database

The internet bible for many film buffs, a very comprehensive site. This site contains reviews of hundreds of movies, plus biographies of actors, 
directors, and others involved in film.

If you would like to submit a resource for consideration.  Fill out the form below.  Please put RESOURCE SUBMISSION in the subject title or leave a comment.

Name *

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Happy Reading & Writing
The Things You Can Read!
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books & Writing!

Don't Forget To Be Awesome!
I am an educator with over 25 years of teaching experience; I currently teach English in the public school system of Virginia. In my spare time I am an avid reader. writer, reviewer, blogger, writing/art journaler, beekeeper, grad student, and MOTHER. - See more: Here

Objective:  To identify elements of plot when reading fiction.

Do Now

Draw and label the plot diagram.

Class Activity

Plot Diagram Booklet

Add: Initiating Event and Moment of Final Suspense on your plot diagram!

Booklet Directions
1.  Cover: Draw and label Plot diagram, TITLE FOR BOOKLET is 5 Elements of a Story by ______
2.  Define Exposition COMPLETELY
3.  Define Rising Action COMPLETELY
4.  Define Climax COMPLETELY
5.  Define Falling Action COMPLETELY
6.  Deine Resolution with all Synonyms Conclusion and Denouement COMPLETELY
7.  Define Plot:  A sequence of events in a story
8.  Paste information onto page 8

Story Pyramid: Analyzing Stories

Words You Need to Know

Conflict: a problem that occurs in the story
Setting: time and place where the story occurs
Tragedy: a story ending in death and sadness

Analyze: to look at something very closely.
Most stories have the following parts: exposition (inciting incident), rising action, climax (turning point), falling action, and denouement (resolution).  This pyramid is used to show how stories move; it is a graphic plot chart. Sometimes a story can be more complicated than this pyramid, but most stories fit perfectly into the pyramid.

Let’s look at each part of the pyramid…

Exposition (inciting incident): The exposition is like the set-up of the story.  The background information that is needed to understand the story is provided, such as the main character, the setting, the basic conflict, and so forth.

The exposition ends with the inciting moment, which is the one incident in the story without which there would be no story. The inciting moment sets the rest of the story in motion.
Rising Action: Rising action is a series of events and actions that move the story to a climax.  During rising action, the basic conflict is complicated by secondary conflicts (obstacles and challenges that frustrate the main character’s attempt to reach their goal).
Climax (turning point): The climax is the turning point in the story.  After the climax everything changes.  In most stories, things will have gone badly for the main character up to this point; after the climax, things will begin to go well for him or her.  However, if the story is a tragedy, the opposite will happen after the climax: things that have been going good for the main character begin to go bad.
Falling Action:  During the falling action, the conflict unravels with the main character either winning or losing. The falling action might contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt. 

Denouement: The story ends with the denouement, also called the resolution.  In most stories, the denouement has the main character in a better position than at the beginning of the story. However, tragedies end with death and sadness, in which the main character is worse off than at the beginning of the story.

Start Scribbling!
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of the Written Word!

Don't Forget To Be Awesome!


I am an educator with over 25 years of teaching experience; I currently teach English in the public school system of Virginia. In my spare time, I am an avid reader. writer, reviewer, blogger, writing/art journaler, beekeeper, grad student, and MOTHER. - See more: Here

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