I have always taught in an inclusive classroom, which means I have always taught students with diverse learning abilities. I have had a number of students who struggle with written output. As a teacher in the North American school system which relies heavily on literacy skills it was often really challenging to assess students’ comprehension when writing difficulties inhibited their ability to write down their ideas. As such, as an alternative to answering questions or constructing essays during reading or listening comprehension lessons I would allow my students to map their understanding.
After reading a story to my students or having them read a tale independently, I would have my students draw pictures of all the main events and details of the story, and also draw path that showed their understanding of the sequencing of each event in the plot. I would specific that each map was to include all the characters, all main events, the different settings and a key like a traditional map would. I would also ensure my students understand what the terms, plot, character and setting meant.
- A story
- One Story Map Handout per student
- Markers, pencils and pencil crayons
- Read a story your students or assign them a story that they are to read on their own.
- I often do this as part of my Fairytale Unit so I often pick Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella or Jack and the Bean Stock
- Discuss story elements and define terms for students. Write them on the board if needed. For example:
- Hand out a Story Map handout to each student
- Explain the objectives of the activity:
- Students are to retell the story by drawing the events of story
- Explain that each map should contain every character involved, every setting and all the main events that occurred
- Show students an example of a complete story map if appropriate to do so
- If time do a Think, Pair, Share where students can collectively brainstorm their ideas of their map.
- Allow students time to draw their own story maps
- Gallery Walk: do a gallery walk around the classroom so students can see how their peers depicted each element of the story.
- If there is time discuss how some were similar and different. Discuss how certain students focused on different aspects of the story.