Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

August 29, 2011

Introducing a Course with a Plot Structure Diagram

In his book A Father who Keeps his Promises, Scott Hahn notes that the Ancient Hebrews conceived of history much differently than modern persons. In the Ancient Hebrew view, God “writes” history, as though events in time are God’s way of communicating with us. The covenantal history of the Judeo-Christian faith takes on a new significance within this vision.

Much of the new USCCB curriculum is centers around God’s activity in history, such as a course on Salvation History, the Paschal Mystery, or Scripture. To help students understand the scope and depth of these topics, we can introduce a course with a diagramming activity that surveys the story.

The Plot Structure Diagram

Most students are familiar with plot structure diagrams from literature class.Plot Structure Diagram

Beginning the year with a plot structure of Salvation History, for example, provides the opportunity to:

  1. Activate and assess prior knowledge.
  2. Invite students into a “big picture” view of Salvation History.
  3. Return to the activity at the course’s end, allowing students to review the content they have learned and the themes they now comprehend.

Salvation History Plot Structure Diagram

During an introduction of the topic of Salvation History, review the plot structure diagram with students. Connect this story diagram with salvation history. Invite students to fill in as much as they know of the story of salvation history. Provide structure to the activity by assigning several points of reference at the exposition, climax, and resolution.Salvation History Plot Structure Diagram

Discuss the results of the diagramming activity as a class. Collect the charts and make copies. At the end of the year, re-distribute the charts to students. Invite students to evaluate

  • What new content they have learned?
  • How their understanding or appreciation of the ‘big picture story’ has evolved through the year?
  • How they see themselves fitting into this story?

Barbara Jane Sloan

Holy Spirit Preparatory School

Atlanta, GA

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