Describe the changes in characters, settings, or events in a text (Inclusive Big Idea #3)

What are students learning?

Reading Literature

Grade 6: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #3: Describe the changes in characters, settings, or events in a text

Standard: Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution. RL.6.3

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Anchor Text: Use an anchor text such as Wonder by R. J. Palacio. As students read, encourage them to keep track of key events that take place in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Then, have them identify the problem (i.e., conflict) and solution (i.e., resolution) and describe how Auggie changes over the course of the story. Learn more about accessing grade-level text in this TIP Sheet.
  • Reflective Journal: As students read or listen to a text, ask them to write, draw, or talk about the events as they unfold in the text. After each day of reading or listening to the text, they should spend the last 5 minutes to do a Quick Write reflection (which may look like writing words, creating images, or dictating reflections) about how the events are unfolding. This is a way for them to keep track of their thinking as they continue to read.
  • Asking Questions: In a small group, or whole class setting, ask students a series of questions about the events to compare and contrast how the events unfolded in a chapter.
  • Think Aloud: To model explaining how events from a text unfold in a story, think aloud as you read a chapter book to the class. Explain your thinking about the events as they occur.
  • Map: During or after reading a story, students can create a map of the major settings from the story, including some small images of a major event at each site then compare settings from different parts of the story.
  • Movie Posters: Students can create a movie poster that presents one of the major settings and events from the story then compare settings from different parts of the story.
  • Story Map: During or after reading or listening to a text, students can write or draw out the major events of the story. This could be a linear timeline with pictures and/or text, or integrate pictures and text into something resembling a comic strip then compare events from different parts of the story.
  • Story Organizer: Students can fill in a graphic organizer or plot diagram that captures the main events of the story. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier for students is if the lesson is not designed to be of interest or relevant.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • allow students to choose a text
  • ask students to choose how different characters would resolve the conflict in the story
  • connect the content to existing communication boards and experience books

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • What Are “Story Elements”?
    • Story elements, sometimes called story grammar, are the parts of a story. These elements develop the story in a logical way to enable readers to easily follow the text. In this big idea, focus on character, setting, and main events. Model for students how to analyze relationships and use key details.
    • Some Story Elements:
      • characters- the individuals in the story
      • setting- the location and time period where the story takes place
      • plot- what happens in the story; has a clear beginning, middle, and end
      • problem/conflict- the incident that sets the story in motion
      • solution/resolution- how the character(s) solved/fixed the problem or conflict
  • What Is a “Plot Diagram”?
    • A plot diagram in literature is basically a map of the book or story. It includes a beginning, middle, and ending for simpler stories. More complex stories for advanced readers will include the introduction, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement (final outcome) as represented in Freytag’s Pyramid. The most common graphic organizer used to analyze the plot of a text looks like this:
Line diagram with a upward sloped diagonal line that connects to a falling vertical line. Along the rising line are Exposition/Beginning, Rising Action, and Climax. Then Falling Action and Resolution fall down.


Looking for more suggestions?  Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Go beyond the specific standard! These examples can spark ideas to generalize related skills from the content to real-world experiences for all students.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Story Elements: Students often miss aspects of story elements when summarizing a text. In addition, some texts are considered “inconsiderate” texts and do not provide enough to allow students to fully understand all story elements, so they must fill in the gaps with prior experiences and personal preferences, leading to problems with comprehension. Students may lack the knowledge there can be multiple plots, settings, and characters affecting the story to varying degrees.
  • Setting: Setting can include real or fictional places, as well as time periods (e.g., historical fiction).
  • Reader Response: Some students may believe there is only one way to interpret a text. Students need to consider how their prior knowledge and perspective influence their understanding of a story.
  • Writing: Develop a narrative structure for an imaginative story using the same plot diagram graphic organizer.

Everyday Connections

  • In the Counselor’s Office: After identifying the problem and solution in the text, have students identify a problem in their own lives, and discuss methods of conflict resolution.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

Find another Inclusive Big Idea

Grade Level
Subject Area