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Lesson Plan by Mitchell Zuvela B. Sc., B. Ed.

Dramatic Structure

This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings plot diagrams to life with comics and storyboards.

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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Storyboard
  • Plot Diagram

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

Pixton Lesson Plan on Dramatic Structure
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings plot diagrams to life with comics and storyboards.
Pixton Lesson Plan on Dramatic Structure

Featured Props

Dramatic Structure

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  • Arrow
    Arrow
  • Bottle
    Bottle
  • Chair
    Chair
  • Line
    Line
  • Line
    Line
  • Piano
    Piano
  • Prop Mic Stand
    Prop Mic Stand
  • Skyline
    Skyline
  • Spotlight
    Spotlight
  • Stage
    Stage
Print this Teacher Guide

Teacher Guide

Dramatic Structure

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

Dramatic structure is the framework of a dramatic work, such as a play or film. Also known as Freytag’s Pyramid, dramatic structure is broken down into five key parts or acts: the prologue, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. The five act play has become the prototypical framework for several of the great playwrights, including William Shakespeare. Many of Shakespeare's works can be divided into two main archetypes: tragedy and comedy. The genre of a play is usually revealed in the falling action or denouement. The protagonist will have one of two outcomes, either better off than when he started (comedy), or worse off due to a great catastrophe (tragedy).

Opening Discussion

There are many direct comparisons that can be made between the five act play (dramatic structure) and three act play (plot diagram). Both are divided into several of the same sections and have a pyramidal structure, however, a few key differences become apparent. Dramatic structure views the conflict as an ongoing and evolving entity that occurs over the rising action. Plot diagrams identify the conflict as the event that builds the rising action. Five act plays are seen as a more traditional framework. Modern dramas, on the other hand, typically follow the three act format so that the plot can transition quickly between the beginning, the middle, and the end.

The 5 Act Play

  • Exposition (Act 1): The main characters are introduced, the setting is established, and the narrator begins to develop the central theme. The conflict will also be revealed to the audience near the end of the act.

  • Rising Action (Act 2): The conflict is complicated by a series of events that prevent the protagonist from reaching their goal.

  • Climax (Act 3): A notable change in the protagonist's journey towards solving their goal. Also known as the 'turning point', the suspense and drama build to their highest levels.

  • Falling Action (Act 4): The conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist will reach a final moment of suspense in which the reader will become aware of the protagonist's fate.

  • Denouement (Act 5): The protagonist’s conflict is resolved, the loose ends are tied up, and the reader has an emotional release (catharsis). The reader is aware of the type of play that has unfolded (tragedy or comedy), and sometimes a lesson is learned.
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Comic
    Dramatic Structure

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Plot Diagram
    Applying Dramatic Structure

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Explore (Extension / Modification)

    Where does the word Denouement come from?

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Compare and contrast the differences between plot diagrams and dramatic sequence.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Dramatic Structure 1 Dramatic Structure

Intro

Dramatic structure is the framework of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Also known as Freytag’s Pyramid, dramatic structure is broken down into five key parts or acts: the prologue, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. The five act play has become the prototypical framework for several of the great playwrights, including William Shakespeare. Many of Shakespeare's works can be divided into two main types, the tragedy and the comedy. The genre of a play is usually revealed in the falling action or denouement. The protagonist will have one of two outcomes, either better off than when he started (comedy), or worse off due to a great catastrophe (tragedy).

Instructions

Create a 6 panel Storyboard that summarizes a play using the five act structure discussed in class.

  • Use two panels for Act 1: one for the introduction and one for the conflict.
  • Include a detailed description and an appropriate illustration for each panel.
  • Make sure to identify the key events that define the act.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Rubric: Dramatic Structure

Use this interactive rubric for easy, thorough assessment. It can even be used by students for self-assessment!

5 4 3 2 1
Overview The dramatic structure is focused, with advanced use of language/ideas. The dramatic structure is well developed with full and accurate descriptions. The plot diagram is accurate and logical; descriptions may be brief. The dramatic structure is basic, has several errors, and lacks detail. The dramatic structure is inaccurate, and is difficult to follow.
Meaning Ideas, information and use of detail • strong point of view
• summary is clear and highly detailed
• descriptions are thoughtful and highly developed
• relevant ideas with consistent analysis
• summary is clear and accurate
• logical descriptions that clarify and develop the idea
• relevant ideas with some analysis
• summary is short, but accurate
• descriptions are simple and consistent
• some relevant ideas
• summary has several errors
• descriptions are brief and lack detail
• often very brief
• summary is has significant errors
• descriptions are difficult to follow
Style Clarity, variety, impact of visuals and language • varies language to develop meaning
• varies sentence structure for effect
• images and characters have impact on the meaning of the panel
• language is clear with some variety
• varies sentence structure
• makes attempts to use descriptive language
• images and characters have purpose and significance
• language is clear with little variety
• basic sentence structure with a few variations
• images and characters are basic, but have purpose
• basic language; vague at times
• some variety in sentence length and type
• images and characters have minimal development
• vague, incorrect and repetitive language
• poorly constructed sentences; little variety
• images and characters are poorly developed
Form Organization and sequence (5 Act Play design) • proper organization
• sequence is highly effective and has purpose
• panels are thoughtful and detailed
• all panels are organized or logical
• logical sequence
• all panels are present
• most panels are organized or logical
• consistent attention to sequence
• all panels are present
• some panels are organized or logical
• some attention to sequence
• some panels may be missing
• panels are not organized or logical
• no attention to sequence
• panels are missing
Conventions The text demonstrates standard English conventions of usage and mechanics • demonstrates precise English conventions
• uses eloquent words, rich sensory language and mood to convey a realistic picture
• demonstrates precise English conventions
• uses precise words, controlled sensory language and mood to convey a realistic picture
• demonstrates standard English conventions
• uses words and phrases, telling details and sensory language to convey a vivid picture
• demonstrates some accuracy in standard English conventions of usage and mechanics • contains multiple inaccuracies in Standard English conventions of usage and mechanics
Total

Student Handout

Share this comic with your students to demonstrate the activity without giving away the farm :)

Conflict and Plot in “Cinderella” by Pixton
ExpositionCinderella lives a humble life with her father, and is very happy. However, soon after taking a new wife, Cinderella's father passes away. Main ConflictWith her new husband now deceased, Lady Tremaine and her two daughters take over the house. Rather than welcoming Cinderella into the family, they make her a servant and treat her cruelly. Rising ActionThe Prince, looking to get married, announces there will be a ball for all the ladies in the kingdom to attend. Cinderella plans to go but her stepsisters ruin her dress. As she sits in tears, her fairy godmother appears and gives her everything she needs for a grand experience at the ball. But there is a catch; at midnight, everything will return to how it was before. ClimaxCinderella enters the ballroom and immediately catches Prince Charming's eye. After a night of dancing, the two are in love. Cinderella loses track of time, however, and when the clock strikes midnight, she flees from the ball. Prince Charming is left with nothing but her glass slipper. Falling ActionThe prince is determined to find the mysterious woman from the ball. He sends his men to visit every household in the kingdom and have them try on the glass slipper. The woman whom the shoe fits will be the new princess. DenouementAt last, Cinderella gets a chance to try on the glass slipper and it fits perfectly. Prince Charming knows she is the one he fell in love with at the ball. He rescues her from her wicked stepfamily and they live happily ever after.
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Pixton Activity: Dramatic Structure 2 Applying Dramatic Structure

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Plot Diagram

Instructions

The illustrations, title, and descriptions in the attached worksheet are not in the correct order.

  • Print the attached comic.
  • Cut the sections of each panel so that the title, illustration, and description are in three separate parts.
  • There should be a total of 18 pieces that need to be organized so that the correct title, illustration, and description match for every panel.
  • Arrange the pieces in the correct order following the outline of a five act play (Act 1 has two panels: introduction and conflict).
  • Glue the newly arranged panels on a blank sheet of paper.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Student Handout

Share this comic with your students to demonstrate the activity without giving away the farm :)

Dramatic Structure Worksheet by Pixton
Act 3: ClimaxMarcus is a proud farmer who lives in the kingdom of Gardville. He makes an honest living herding sheep. Marcus has no family, but hopes to have a wife and children one day. He works hard so that he may catch the attention of a fair maiden who lives within the city walls. Act 5: DenouementMarcus will never see Mary again or be able to farm his land. He has been banned from returning to the kingdom of Gardville. He will forever roam the desolate hills, and the abandoned forests. Act 4: Falling ActionMarcus is brought to the King where he will face his punishment for killing a noble. Mary is taken back to the castle, never to be seen again. The King spares Marcus' life, but his punishment is far worse. Act 1: IntroductionMarcus stops by the castle on a daily basis to see Mary at her window. He hopes to ask for her hand in marriage. Marcus, however, does not know that Mary is engaged to a noble. The noble soon finds out about Marcus and challenges him to a battle. Act 2: Rising ActionMarcus meets a beautiful woman on a bridge as he walks home. They talk for a while and he finds out that she is a maiden. When they part, Mary waves goodbye and smiles at him. Marcus decides he will do anything to make her his wife. Act 1: ConflictMarcus and the noble engage in a deadly sword fight. Mary watches in the distance as they battle to the bitter end. Marcus realizes that he is more quick and agile than the noble. He soon finds a weakness and lands a deadly blow. Soon after, the King's guards arrest him for killing a noble.

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