Spotlight on Strategies

Mapping Out Story Structure


Story structure is a method that will teach readers a strategy where they will be able to identify content and organization in a story. The reader will learn how to answer the who, what, when, where, and why of a story. This will enable the reader to infer relationships between characters, events, and other story elements, thus helping to develop a deeper understanding of the text they are reading. Research findings by the NRP suggest that story structure instruction in connection with graphic organizers resulted in learning gains and improved text comprehension (Designed Instruction, 2002-2013).

Common Core 4th Grade ELA Standard- Describe in depth a character, setting, or

event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions) (NC Deptartment of Public Instruction, 2012-2013)


  • Teachers explain story elements to your students, click on the interactive elements link . This link contains the story Cinderella, along with an explanation of each story element. There is a quiz at the end to check for understanding. This should be done as a whole class.


  • Teachers explain or review story elements with your students using the following link- Have your students complete the quiz at the end of the story. This can be done as a whole class, or individually if you have enough computers.
  • Students can now try this activity on their own. You can assign them a book to read or allow them to watch this video from Discovery Ed for the book Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema.
  • Tell students as they are watching they need to think about the structure of the story.
  • Provide them a story structure map to complete at the end of the story. Show the video a second time if needed. If students are using a book remind them to refer back to the text when needed.

Extension Idea

  • Teachers give your students a copy of the story structure map.
  • Students can complete the story structure map with fictional information.
  • Using the story structure map will help your students organize their ideas so that they may begin writing their own fictional narrative.


Boozer. (Designer). (2011, August 25). Communicate correctly with mrs. boozer [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Designed Instruction. (2002-2013). In search of story structure: Teaching readers cognitive strategies for story comprehension. Retrieved from

NC Deptartment of Public Instruction. (2012-2013). Instructional support tools. Retrieved from

RRKidz, (1988). Reading Rainbow: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. [Full Video]. Available from

Salena. (Designer). (2010, September 27). I love my library card [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Weston Woods, (1975). Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. [Full Video]. Available from

Williams, C. (Designer). (2010, November 24). Number 95-mufaro's beautiful daughter [Web Photo]. Retrieved from