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Detective Training: Plot Investigation

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/5/2012

By breaking down the plot of a story and illustrating it on a plot diagram, students are gaining experience in recognizing the climax, problem, and ensuing solution of a basic story. These skills are beneficial to students when it comes to improving comprehension, as well as writing stories.

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    Plot

    The plot is the meaning behind the story. It servers as a connection between the beginning and the end, and provides the characters with a problem or conflict to solve. To complete this plot investigation, have students select a familiar story that they will use to map the plot or action. Ask them to choose from:

    • The Three Little Pigs
    • Snow White
    • Finding Nemo
    • Cinderella
    • Toy Story
    • Little Red Riding Hood
    • Harry Potter Series

    To begin the plot investigation, ask students to list the main problem in the story, and then the solution to the problem. Then, they should explain the climax to the story. From this point, the students should list between four and seven events that happened before the climax, and four to seven events that happened after the climax.

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    Plot Diagram Template

    Give students a copy of the plot investigation template.

    • The first step in completing the template is to write the story title in the box at the top of the template.
    • Then, choose some of the events listed and write them where they belong on the story map.
    • Draw a small picture next to the written event that represents that part of the story.
    • Fill in the problem and solution parts of the template.
    • Encourage students to color the story map lightly, so that their writing is still visible.
    • Students who used the same story should work in small groups to share their plot investigations. This allows them to compare what others saw as the climax, problem, and solution in the story. They can then have discussions on any differences that evolve.

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    Follow Up

    In completing these plot investigations, students are encouraged to use these basic, familiar stories so that they are not bogged down my comprehension issues. They can focus on the climax of the story, as well as the problem and solution faced by the main character/characters. By breaking down a story this way, students are building knowledge about story telling that will benefit them in their reading and writing.


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