Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Break Down

Mary Borges
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students apply their understanding of the elements of plot structure and conflict to cooperatively create storyboards and speak effectively as they present their products.


The student uses volume, stress, pacing, enunciation, eye contact, and gestures that meet the needs of the audience and topic.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student applies oral communication skills to interviews, group presentations, formal presentations, and impromptu situations.

Analyzes the effectiveness of complex elements of plot such as setting, major events, problems, conflicts and resolutions

The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to communicate an idea or concept based on research, environment, personal experience, observation, or imagination.


-Chart roll paper cut into strips, about 24”x 72”, one for each pair of students
-Crayons or water-based colored markers
-Prepared transparencies for initial instruction
-Overhead projector, screen
-Paper and writing utensils, supplied by students
-Yardsticks or rulers
-Prepared score slips for final evaluation
-Optional: TV/VCR and brief video-taped story (a 5-minute cartoon will suffice if copyright laws are observed)


1. Prepare transparencies (definitions for notes) and get overhead projector/screen.
2. Gather art supplies and cut paper into strips.
3. Prepare score slips.
4. Optional: Put student instructions (Step 4 in Activity) into a handout to distribute.
5. Optional: Obtain video, TV/vcr.


Begin the lesson with this discussion: “How many of you know the story of 'The Wizard of Oz'?” Lead them in summarizing the story, making notes on the overhead projector. Point out to them that stories are usually moved along because someone in the story has a problem. By the end of the story, the problem is solved, or it is shown that the problem can’t be solved. Use this discussion to lead the students into identifying the following literary elements in “Wizard” – plot, character, setting, conflict. Then, go into more detail about conflict. Identify both internal and external conflicts in “Wizard.” Note these on the overhead. Discuss how these conflicts moved the story and whether the conflicts were resolved by the end of the story.

(1) Students copy notes from prepared transparencies defining these terms: plot, character, setting, internal conflict, external conflict. Go into detail with examples of conflicts: man vs. man, man vs. society or establishment, man vs. nature, man vs. the environment, nature vs. nature, man vs. himself, etc. (Pay close attention to the less obvious internal conflicts, such as guilt, indecision, anger, frustration, hopeless love, etc.)

(2) Show a break-down of plot (including the definitions) into these five parts: Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. (Point out that in some short stories, Falling Action and Resolution are combined.) The students copy these notes. Readdress the discussion fo the -Wizard.- Have the students identify what goes on in “Wizard” in each of these five parts of the plot.

(3) OPTIONAL: Show a short video story (a cartoon works well) and ask the students afterward in discussion to identify the five plot parts as noted above. Also use this to identify the conflict(s) and whether they were resolved or not.

(4) Now divide the students into groups of two. Their assignment is as follows: a) Select a well-known children’s story to analyze for plot elements and conflict. Suggested titles are Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
b) On notebook paper, break your story down into Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. Decide what happens in each part. Then determine the conflict(s) in the story, decide what kind of conflict each is, how the conflicts moved the story through the plot structure design, and whether the conflicts were resolved or not. Put this in writing on your notebook paper. (This paper will be turned in.)
c) Get a strip of chart paper. You are going to make a storyboard of your plot. On the left end of your paper, write your title and the names of the students who are involved in the project. Then divide the rest of the paper into four or five panels for the five plot parts (some stories may combine Falling Action and Resolution) using a straight edge. Neatness is important. Draw and color a scene from the story in each panel that illustrates that part of the plot. Use all of your paper area effectively. At the bottom of each panel, label it as Introduction, Rising Action, etc.
d) Be prepared to present your project orally before the class. One of you will explain the elements of plot shown on your storyboard. The other will explain the conflicts in the story and their resolution (or no resolution). Good public speaking and enthusiasm are required. Your written work on notebook paper should be turned in after you speak.

(5) Allow the students at least one hour of class time for preparing their storyboards. Observe them as they work. (Let them know that you are considering their cooperative effort as part of their assessment.)

(6) The next class, have the student teams make their presentations. Use the prepared score slips for determining satisfactory/unsatisfactory performance. Before anyone speaks, tell them what you consider to be good speaking skills. Instruct them for posture, gestures, eye contact, volume, pacing, emphasis, and a positive/enthusiastic attitude. Remind them that both of the team members should speak and their time should be divided equally.

(7) Display the storyboard strips in the classroom or in the hall outside the room.


Determine how detailed/extensive the score slips should be for your evaluation. You may want to note point values for each scoring criteria, or simply mark either Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The following criteria items are recommended:
1) Worked cooperatively and used time efficiently.
2) Followed directions for the written assignment.
3) Followed directions for creating the visual aid (storyboard).
4) Adequately identified the plot parts and demonstrated understanding of these.
5) Adequately identified the conflicts and their resolutions.
6) Neatness, creativity, and good use of materials were used for making the storyboard.
7) Good public speaking skills.


This activity works for both middle and high school students. In extension, you may select several short stories from their literature text for them to break down. This is also an excellent method for an oral book report. For this, each student would create (at home) a storyboard for their novels, using a sheet of poster board cut lengthwise. The left panel would be the “book cover” with title, author’s name, their name, date, and class. At the bottom of each picture panel, the student attaches a 3x5 index card that summarizes each panel so that when it is displayed later in the classroom or hall, others can read them. (The storyboard gives reluctant students something to do with their hands as they speak before the class for the first time.) You can also require students to use their notes to study for future test items, applying them to other literature studies through matching, multiple choice, or short/long answer questions.
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