It’s not uncommon for students to take notes while reading a novel/chapter book. It’s a great way to quickly review the plot and sequence of events. And this type of note-taking can be made even more powerful for the visual learner if it’s done using a plot map. Using quick sketches and key words, students can document the story’s events, actions, climax, and resolution using a traditional “mountain-shaped” plot map. Some teachers also suggest students note the page numbers for each of the plotted events. This makes for a great summary.
Life Maps for Main Characters
Consider taking the plot map one step further and creating separate life maps for main characters. It may be shaped more like a curving road, and less like a traditional plot map. It could include “destinations” that mark the significant decisions, meetings, and actions in a single character’s life. It can also include trips/vacations, holidays/celebrations, highs and lows.
When first sharing this idea, you may want to create an example for a main character from a previously read book. This will provide your students with an anchor paper and help them see what you want. When they are ready to begin their own character life maps, provide students with 11×17 paper and colored pencils or markers.
Social Studies Connection
This same strategy could be used in plotting the lives of historical people or documenting the progression of significant events. What a great way to bring a timeline to life!