Middle School English: Story Map and Plot Analysis

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How to map out a story and analyze a plot are important skills to learn at the middle school level. Oak Meadow Grade 8 English tackles these topics in a clear, easy to follow way.

How Oak Meadow Grade 8 English is going for us:

Bug has been chugging along with his school work this year. English has always been one of his least favorite subjects (you should see the eye rolls when I ask him to write just about anything). Luckily, I have seen a huge improvement in his attitude and willingness to work hard this year.

Most of his school work with Oak Meadow is fully independent these days, but English always takes a little bit of extra conversation (mostly because if we don’t sit down and talk about it, he will try to gloss over any comprehension work that needed to be done). The curriculum reccomends discussing literature with your student so they can reflect on their thoughts, feelings and ideas that come up as they are reading. The book list this year is amazing. The Giver and Wrinkle in Time were some of my favorite books growing up, and they have become Bug’s favorite books too. They absolutely have more mature themes than he has grappled with in the past, and talking them through is important.

Can you see that almost-teenager attitude seeping through this picture? Naw, me neither.

A lot of our challenges this school year come down to maturity – this has been a huge year for growth both physically and emotionally. What I love about the newest edition of the Oak Meadow Grade Eight Curriculum is that the curriculum books have been broken down into smaller guides, which seems like a little thing, but when you have a child who is digging in their heels about all work, there is something of value to the book itself not being overwhelming.

I am highlighting this lesson this month because it was the most hands-on I have needed to be for a while with him, and honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. This week was rough, and hormonal and a little bit whiny, and this post is an example of what we do when things become very middle school-y in our home. If you are looking for something your child can do basically on their own, Oak Meadow is a great choice. The teacher’s guides provide me the information I need to understand and evaluate his work without needing to hover over him at all times, and cues me when additional discussion or work together would be helpful. With a middle school child who craves independence and responsibility, this is a good balance.

How to write a story map

Plot analysis and how to do a story map was introduced early this year in the Oak Meadow English curriculum.

  1. First, identify the main conflict. Conflict can be internal, or it can include outside forces. Sometimes, conflict is a goal the character is trying to achieve.
  2. Pinpoint scenes of the story that show this conflict escalating.
  3. Determine the climax of the story – the point where the main character is at the most risk of not accomplishing their goal or overcoming their conflict.
  4. Describe how the conflict comes to a resolution and how the story comes to an end.

If your child struggles to write their story map:

Bug struggled a little this week to put together his story map. Sometimes, the short stories he is assigned have less obvious conflicts and it’s hard for Bug to pinpoint where the rising action end and the climax begins, especially when the conflict is internal.

As I talked through the story with him, I decided that a good way to help would be to do a sample story map using something he loves – the first Jurassic World movie (honestly, all homeschool lessons would be more fun if Chris Pratt made an appearance).

Jurassic World was the perfect example for the story map because the conflict is so clear. As they put it in the first Jurassic Park movie, “man creates dinosaur, dinosaur eats man.” This is a classic man vs. nature conflict, and the main character is fighting for survival every step of the way.

The climax was also easy for Bug to pinpoint. Of course, the climax is the fight to the death where the Indominus Rex is trying to eat everyone and Blue and the T-Rex (more teeth) ultimately feed Indominus Rex to the giant water dinosaur guy (technical term).

Once he wrote about the climax, he worked backwards through the scenes that set up the climax battle, then came back to write about the resolution (T-Rex wins and rules the island, man escapes to live somewhere else) and the falling action.

Taking a break from the assigned reading to re-watch Jurassic World, map out the movie, and to visit a local dinosaur attraction was exactly what the doctor ordered to perk up Bug and help him internalize the lessons from his curriculum. This is why I love homeschooling and Oak Meadow so much. We don’t have to just press forward to keep our noses to the grindstone. We have time in our week to do the lessons and expand on them in a way that works for our family. Oak Meadow is designed to allow for flexibility so we can have fun, freedom and a solid education.

Free Story Map Brochure Printable

I created a printable story map brochure for Bug to use this week in his lessons. By the end of the week, he did one for Jurrasic World, and three for short stories he was assigned to read in the curriculum. I could have had him draw out the story map by hand, but giving him a format gave him a place to start and made the whole process more pleasant.

This story map includes a place on the front to draw a book cover or movie poster, a section to review what you read, character and setting information, and of course, a story map with conflict/resolution/theme areas.

I hope you enjoy it! You can download this free in our shop today. If you are looking for other free homeschool resources or affordable printables, our shop is the place for you!

Check out Oak Meadow

Oak Meadow is a wonderful, flexible curriculum for middle school students. It teaches independence and responsibility along with the core lessons so over time your child will become more capable of working on their own while maintaining quality work. Of course, we have some challenging days, but Oak Meadow gives me the tools and support I need to meet the challenge and continue pushing through. I would reccomend Oak Meadow to just about anyone who is looking for a all-in-one homeschooling program.

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