A story arc template doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But man, oh man, does it pack one heck of a punch.
Today I’m treating you BIG time! First you’ll learn why a story arc template is such a big deal. Then you’ll learn how minimal effort using this tool creates maximum results.
The best part?? You’re getting a FREE story arc template to use with your class, plus a powerpoint to teach it and printables to make an anchor chart or bulletin board display!
Let’s get straight to it so you so you can put this into use TODAY.
Why Use a Story Arc Template?
Create Stronger Readers
A story arc shows your students that the FORM of a book is reliable and predictable. When they learn that a story always starts with some kind of exposition, for example, they learn to expect exposition. They learn how authors achieve this differently.
When the problem of the story begins, they know, “Ah, yes. This is where the rollercoaster starts going up the hill slowly.”
They’ll know that the author always stretches out the climax, sometimes even slowing time down.
This developing comfort with the story arc gives them a place to hang different story events. Things aren’t just happening in the story. They’re building to something. And after the climax? There’s the falling action and resolution. Every. time.
This doesn’t make their favorite stories any less wonderful. Instead, it shows them the pattern. Much like music, there are common rules authors follow. (And if they break those rules? It’s deliberate. And very noticeable.)
A Story Arc Template Creates Stronger Writers
Even more fun is applying this to their writing. Did Sharon Draper slow down that unforgettable climax? Of course she did! She knew exactly what she was doing. Sure the ideas were hers. But the structure? That followed the time-honored story arc. And students learn they can do the same thing with their stories.
That delicious moment when your students realize they’re following the same map as their favorite authors? Magic.
How to Introduce
The free powerpoint, template, and anchor chart pieces let you start this now.
Pick a story you’ve already read. Something your students are familiar with. Say, Harry Potter.
Share copies of the template with your students. Then play the slideshow, adding the different components of the book to the story arc you’re building.
Don’t shy away from big words. Our kids love owning these grown-up terms.
Exposition is made up of characters and setting. And it’s the author’s way of letting us know where we are when we first land in the book. When your students realize that the author uses exposition so readers won’t feel confused, they learn the why of exposition.
The exposition is when we first get in the rollercoaster and buckle in. We hear the rules. Then the cars starts its lumbering trek forward.
Most kids know that setting refers to place. But they often forget that it also means time. Which century are they in? What season? What time of day?
Without a clear setting, the reader is just doggone confused. (Though some authors omit parts of the setting on purpose, like Jeanne Dupreau in City of Ember. Clever lady.)
Sometimes the story opens with the conflict. (Think Auggie Pullman going to a new school.) At other times, the conflict doesn’t arrive until a chapter or two in.
But, as anyone who’s ridden a rollercoaster knows, this is when the car starts its slow, maddening ascent.
The rising action in the story arc is, of course, the sum of the events leading to the biggest moment of the story.
Or, for those of us who are terrified of rollercoasters, the time when you question your sanity. The car goes up – up -up with that loud clunk-clunk.
Then is slows down as you approach … the …
The author slows down here. Just like the rollercoaster making that pause at the top, time moves slower. Everything is slowed down until…
I’m just going to step away from this part. (Nope — don’t like rollercoasters. Not one bit.)
The car speeds downward in free fall, leaving you no choice but to hang on. The consequences of the climax are felt here. Until …
The coaster slows down. And turns back to the ramp.
In the story? The loose ends get tied up. The main character has learned a lesson. (Like, never go on a roller coaster again. But that’s just me.)
Get your free Story Arc Template Kit
Want to teach this today?
Download the freebie now! Includes the entire powerpoint presentation plus printable PDF students can use during read aloud or during book groups. I’m also throwing in some images you can print and use as a Story Arc Display on an anchor chart or bulletin board.
You’ll even get it in Google Slides for online or remote learning!
Easy-peasy Reader’s Workshop!
Need more ideas to make Reader’s Workshop your favorite time of day?
- Text to Text Connections in 4th Grade (and SWIMMING POOLS)
- Prior Knowledge in Upper Elementary: Why Build on Sand??
- Why Turn and Talk is like Diamond Earrings
- Active Reading Strategies that make 4th Grade READERS
Now It’s Your Turn!
Tell us in the comments below:
- How will you use Story Arcs in YOUR ELA block?
- More important? Do you like rollercoasters. Why? Cause they scare the crap out of me.
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