Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Falling Apart for Plot

Melissa Layner


Students study the effectiveness of the plot of [Things Fall Apart]. They complete a story diagram and compete in a debate regarding the effectiveness of the plot of the novel.


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


-Novel: Achebe, Chinua. [Things Fall Apart]. New York: Prentice Hall, 1994.
-One sweet potato yam per student
-Two podiums
-Egg timer
-Toothpicks, one per student
-Small Post-It notes, one per student
-Copies of Story Map, one per student (See Associated File)
-Copies of Persuasive Rubric, one per student (See Associated File)


1. Create a rubric to score the debate. (A sample Persuasive Rubric is located in the associated file.)
2. Make copies of the rubric.
3. Make copies of the Story Map, one per student. (See Associated File)
4. Buy enough sweet potato yams, one per student.
5. Obtain toothpicks, one per student.
6. Obtain Post-It notes and divide them. Label half “effective” and the other half “not effective.”
7. Arrange two podiums at the front of the classroom.
8. Arrange desks to allow for two large groups (class divided).


BACKGROUND: Have the students complete the reading of the novel, [Things Fall Apart], before beginning this lesson plan.

1. Place one yam, one labeled Post-It note, and one toothpick on each student’s desk, prior to students entering the classroom.

2. Orally review the elements of plot, i.e. setting, major events, problems, conflicts and resolutions.

3. Hand out Story Maps (See Associated File) and ask the students to fill in the Title and Plot boxes.

4. Ask students to complete the rest of the chart, listing all other plot elements.

5. Have students attach their Post-it note to their toothpick and pierce the yam with it.

6. Group students on opposite sides of the room, “effective” vs. “not effective” perspectives.

7. Ask newly-grouped students to discuss their perspectives in small groups and record a few details on the back of their Story Maps.

8. Hand out Persuasive Rubrics (See Associated File) for judging the individual debaters.

9. Orally review the rubric, offering opportunities for student feedback.

10. Perform a mock debate, modeling both sides of an argument.

11. Have students give oral feedback as to how the teacher rates according to the rubric.

12. Discuss the qualities and expectations of an acceptable debate, including time restraints. The qualities of a good debate include clear speech patterns, good eye contact, avoidance of any type of fidgeting or nervous/distracting behavior, relevance to audience, and appropriate use of persuasive voice.

13. Have one student from each perspective group take a place at a podium at the front of the room.

14. The debate begins with one speaker and the egg timer is set for two minutes. At the end of the two minutes, the next speaker begins. Once that speaker is finished, each is given a 30-second rebuttal opportunity.

15. The teacher scores the Persuasive Rubric accordingly.

16. The next pair of students come to the podium and the procedure is repeated until all students have been given the opportunity to debate or complete an alternate assignment. (See modifications in Extensions)

17. Once the students' rubrics have been completed by the teacher, students should receive them back and read the teacher feedback and grade.


-Students analyze the effectiveness of the plot and complete a Story Map. (See Associated File)
-Students use this information to participate in a debate, citing examples from the novel to support their opinion.
-The debate is scored using a Persuasive Rubric (See Associated File), consisting of three levels: expert, on target, ready to learn.
-The rubric offers feedback so that students can see the quality of their arguments regarding the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the plot of the novel.


1. Students struggling with the novel may use Cliff Notes (book or Website) to help review each chapter and get an accurate account of the plot and its elements.
2. Students who don’t wish to participate in the debate can record their argument in a written essay or offer the argument privately to the teacher only.
3. ESOL students may draw pictures of their ideas and use them during the debate or submit those pictures with a written argument and present them privately to the instructor.

Web Links

This site has background information for this novel.
Things Fall Apart, Web Quest

Attached Files

This file contains the Story Map and Persuasive Rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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