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Fun Story Sequencing Activities for Older Students

by Michael Stratford

Story sequencing helps students recall the events of a story in their order of occurrence; it assists students at all levels to organize information. Older students often resist the more childlike methods of teaching this skill, but several fun activities for individuals, small groups and whole class interactions will pass on sequencing ideas effectively.

Sequencing Across Literature

Story maps are excellent tools for sequencing story ideas, such as a beginning-middle-end graphic organizer. However, older students may prefer to sequence not just stories they read but also characters across their literature. Fans of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series might enjoy a lesson that sequences Byronic characters like Edward Cullen in remarkably similar stories: Scratch Edward and you'll find Rochester from "Jane Eyre" or a less jolly Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice." The sequencing fun is to take these archetypes and note how their story arcs proceed along similar lines.

Find the Transition

Sequencing is built of transitions, and it's useful to know transitional words and phrases as they occur in a story. Most young students have considerable exposure to these; if your older students have not, it's extremely important to introduce them at once. One sequencing activity that keeps older students engaged is to find the transitions in the literature and organize a chart of when and where they occur: What transitions denote what plot development? A refinement of this is to have students take the transitions they find and write their own stories with them.

Journals With Characters on the Side

Another useful sequencing activity is to write a response journal as the story proceeds in which your students can select certain plot points, symbols or themes that arise and note at what point in the story they occur. A fun variation on this is the "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" assignment in which students rewrite the story as it proceeds from the point of view of characters who have no central role in the narrative. Students can both sequence and elaborate on the tale by describing reactions and thoughts from these marginally involved individuals.

Role Playing in Sequence

Role playing characters is usually great fun for more adventurous students. This activity can include sequencing if you select characters from the reading and have each of your students enact one of them as the reading proceeds. Students can then record the character's narrative journey, including reactions and emotional changes he may undergo. This activity also builds student skills in recognizing elements of character development and in analyzing the sequencing of a story arc from an individual point of view.

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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