Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Literary Elements of Fiction

In order to comprehend fiction at high levels, students must internalize the predictable story structure of fiction -- namely, that readers will always be introduced to three basic literary elements at the beginning of a story: characters, setting, and problem. The middle of a story will always be the major events where either the problem is growing or the characters are attempting to solve the problem. The ending of fiction is always a resolution -- how the problem is solved or how the characters grow to accept the problem.

To help students internalize these basic literary elements, I frequently engage students in a Probable Passage. I have gone through the story and chosen passages (words, phrases, or sentences) that have something to do with each literary element. The students then go through the passages and make predictions about which literary element each passage probably best helps readers understand. They record their predictions on the Probable Passage sheet (see link at right). After predicting each passage, the students then weave the passages together to create their predicted gist of the story. As students share their predictions, the level of engagement is heightened. Subsequently, their comprehension is greater as their brains are actively making meaning of the story -- even before they begin reading!