For today’s Story Elements Study, we are going to focus on teaching events. If you are interested in ideas for teaching events in your elementary classroom, this is the post for you! I’ll bring tips and tricks for teaching events to students. With events, your focus is going to narrow at each grade level. Starting in kindergarten, your students will simply identify major events of a story. In first grade, that skill will develop and grow by adding detail and segmenting the story. Students will then move on to how characters react to events in second and third grades. By fourth grade, your focus will go as far as looking at plot structure and conflict resolution.
Common Core Standards:
- Kinder RL.K.3: With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
- 1st Grade RL.1.3: Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
- 2nd Grade RL.2.3: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
- 3rd Grade RL.3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
- 4th Grade RL.4.3: Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Stock Up On Mentor Texts With Strong Events
Just as discussed in the other Story Elements blog posts, mentor texts are going to be your most effective tool when teaching events. Students need exposure to stories with clear events. These stories should closely follow a standard plot diagram so that students can learn what type of events to expect in a story. We will talk more about this later!
Here are a collection of affiliate links to Amazon that I think would help your students while learning about events!
Start With Simply Identifying Events
When teaching events to students, you will want to start simply. Teach your students what events are. Then, help the students focus their attention on the three parts of a story. They will need to think about what happens in the beginning, the middle, and the end of a story.
In kindergarten and first grades, you can use simple picture stories. Like the activity above, use three pictures to represent events in a story. Students can describe what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of each picture “story.” Then, you can move on to short stories and story paragraphs. Be sure that your focus remains on what happens in each of the story “sections.” This will help students understand story structure in later grades.
Another simple way to focus on beginning, middle, and end when teaching events, is to use a paper folding activity. This free paper organizer is one of several activities that can be used when students are reading on their own and when you are reading together!
Link: Free Paper Folding Activities
Introduce What a Problem is When Teaching Events to Students
In second grade, the CCSS focus is on how characters respond to an event. In third grade, the CCSS focus is on how a character’s actions contribute to events. So, students will need to be able to identify those events in order to analyze the characters’ reactions. This comes with problem and solution.
So, your next step in teaching events is taking a look at the problem in a story. A good starting point is to “look back” at stories that you have previously read in class. This will allow you to discuss several problems/solutions before you begin applying the skill to a new story. For example: after introducing the concept of a problem/solution, open a class discussion to previously read stories. “Remember when we read ______. What problem did _____ face in that story? How did they solve that problem?” Add sticky notes to the correct column of an anchor chart. “What are some other stories we’ve read where characters face problems?” Continue to add example problems and solutions to your anchor chart.
Students will need to continue their practice of identifying problems and solutions. This can be done with task cards, comprehension passages, mentor texts, etc. Students will begin to understand that the problem is the driving force of the events in a story. This will help them understand the character better, how the story is structured, and even how to differentiate between important and nonimportant events!
Connecting Events to Character Feelings, Actions, and Emotions
As I mentioned previously, third-grade students will be focusing on how their character’s actions contribute to the events in a story. It may not come naturally for a student to think about how a character’s actions are in response to something. Or, in turn, how that response can then cause another event. I recommend providing students with graphic organizers while they are reading independently or with partners. The guidance of prompts/questions will help students develop their ability to analyze character and events.
In third and fourth grades, students will be ready to expand their understanding of events from BME (beginning, middle, end) to a full story structure. Have students identify the problem at the beginning of a story. Then, have them pay attention to how the remaining events in a story are connected to that problem. They may or may not be. However, focusing on this will help students figure out which events are considered major events!
Advanced: Diving Deep Into Plot Stages
One of the final stages of teaching events to students is structure. When your students are ready for it, teach story structure! This is likely going to occur in your fourth-grade classrooms. With experience identifying events and character responses, they are going to take look at the story/plot structure. The elements they will need to learn are the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. Use an anchor chart or plot component cards, like the ones above when you first start.
Then, use mentor texts or previously read novels to apply the skill. Students will need continued practice for this skill. So, be sure to return to story structure discussions throughout your mini-lessons, small-group instruction, and student activities.
This graphic organizer can be used to identify events and story structure. The plot diagram will help students see how the events in a story can be categorized. I would recommend providing students with multiple copies of a graphic organizer to be used for independent reading. Or, simply keep copies available for students to grab when they are ready to use one!
Try a Digital Events Activity
Specifically, there are 3-4 events-focused activities in my new digital story elements set. These activities range from simply identifying the beginning, middle, and ending events in a story to challenges and responses of the characters. These come ready-made in Google Slides and Seesaw.
Suggested Resources to Help Teach Events
If you are looking for COMPLETE resources for teaching setting (and all story elements) in your classroom, look no further. Each of the Story Elements CCSS units below include: Lessons and materials, graphic organizers, comprehension passages and questions, interactive notebook elements, task cards, and an assessment! Click your grade level to get a closer look.
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Thank you for reading this last part of our Story Elements Study!