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Story Impressions


In this pre-reading activity students will use a teacher-generated list of words that relate to the fiction elements of a story, including setting, character names or descriptions, plot, and resolution. Students will work in pairs or small groups to make predictions and write a story based on those words. The purpose of this activity is for students to make predictions about the story and to practice using fiction elements.

Learning Strategies 

  • Inferring
  • Predicting
Writing with Fiction Elements

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Staircase of Complexity
  • Writing from Sources


Select a fiction text. This can be a short story or a novel. Generate a list of 6-10 words from that text to share with students. This list should reveal key elements of the story including characters, a hint of the plot, and the setting. Create a graphic organizer sample for the comparison of the student stories to the original text.

Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce Story Impressions.

    Explain to students that story impression is a pre-reading activity designed to get them thinking about the fiction elements (setting, plot, characters, and resolution) of a story. They will use a pre-generated list of words to predict what will happen in the story.

  2. Conduct mini-lesson on making predictions.

    This may or may not be necessary depending on how much capacity you have built around predicting in your specific classroom.

  3. Review word list.

    Share the word list by writing it on the board or distributing a handout to each group. Stress that students must write a story using the words in the specific order of the list.

  4. Have students write the story in pairs, small groups, or individually, depending on your students and their ability to work in teams.

    This activity works best in pairs or very small groups in order to generate ideas. However, some students write better individually. The story should be about two typed pages.

  5. Conduct group share-out of writing.

    The share-out can be in class as a group, or the stories can be posted online and students read them for homework, if that is feasible.

  6. Hold whole-class discussion on predictions.

    After the sharing of each story, hold a whole-class discussion to reflect on the predictions. Each student will select a different word from the list and describe how they made a prediction based on that word in the story. For example, if December was one of the words, they could say, “I made a prediction based on the word December that the setting of the story would be in the snow somewhere cold so we set our story in Buffalo, New York.” This is also an opportunity to discuss the fiction elements as a class.

  7. Read the original text.

    The length of the text can vary based on the teacher’s preference. A novel obviously could take a month where a short story could take 20 minutes.

  8. Compare the student predictions to the original text.

    This comparison could be a simple T-chart with two categories labeled “Our Predictions” and “The Text.” Students can work back in their pairs or small groups to make these comparisons. Ask each group to share one comparison they made with the whole class.

  9. Reflect independently on pre-reading predictions.

    · How did making predictions about the text using the 6-10 words help you when you read the original text? · Did the 6-10 words make you more or less interested in reading the text? Why? · Was the story what you thought it would be?

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