Common Core Reading Standard #5—Analyzing Plot

Looking at CCS standard for reading #5, I am encouraged to see critical thinking required of our students. It is important to ensure that skills like problem solving, analyzing, and evaluating are at the core of our reading, writing, and speaking skills curricula. It is also essential that we keep in mind the goal of generating independent, self-directed (and self-reflective), life-long learners. 5. Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise. For standard #5, the key term is "analyze." In Bloom's taxonomy, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are the top tiers we strive to reach. A lesson plan from teacher Patricia Schulze provides some excellent opportunities to use technology for this standard. The technology for the lesson comes from a site you are probably familiar with—Read, Write, I've written before about how Read, Write, Think is a great source for easy-to-use interactive activities. As simple as this particular interactive is, it is very useful for students to break down a story's plot into its parts and to learn about how those parts work together. The complete lesson plan, "Teaching Plot Structure through Short Stories," can help our students analyze the structure, order, and timeline of plot effectively using technology. Its objectives include "demonstrate[ing] an understanding of plot structure by analyzing several short stories," so higher-level thinking is among the objectives. The lesson is organized into four sessions with group and independent work, class discussion, and independent writing. The focus is on the very short story "Flowers" by Alice Walker, but you could use any text. Higher-level thinking is especially required in session four of the plan where students must write about plot, but before they do they must "discuss the difference between a paper that analyzes plot and one that summarizes the story," with the goal of producing an essay that analyzes. I hope you'll explore Patricia Shulze's lesson plan toward meeting standard #5. Meaningful, authentic integration of technology results when we combine the elements of critical thinking with interactive, digital resources.