Writing Lesson W3: Using Conflict

Lesson: Using Conflict
Time: About 50 minutes
Objective: Students review conflict as an essential ingredient of plot and write a story based on their response to a picture

In this lesson, students read the background information for the picture Dragon Path, found on the Picture Gallery page.  Then they brainstorm kinds of conflicts suggested by the picture.  Next, they write a 10-20 sentence story that tells what this picture is about, using conflict as an essential ingredient.  Finally, students write a two-sentence note explaining why John Macpherson sent this story to Anna Stolyarski.


1.  Share the picture Dragon Path (found on the Picture Gallery page) with students:

Dragon Path Picture

2.  Remind students that conflict is at the heart of any story.  Ask students to brainstorm the kinds of conflict the picture suggests.  Make a list of student ideas.

3.  If you’d like, you can discuss with students the difference between a vignette and story.  Explain to them that their assignment is to write a vignette or story based on the picture.  It should include one or two kinds of conflict that are suggested by the picture.  The writing should also be in the spirit of the other stories on the web site, written as if it might have been penned by John Macpherson.

4.  When students have finished the story, they complete the assignment by writing a two-sentence explanation for why this story was sent to Anna Stolyarski.

5.  Finally, when students have completed the explanation, they may pair/share their work with others or with the entire class.

6.  If desired, during a follow-up lesson, students may go through the steps of the revising/editing process and then post their stories online.

Download Student Response Sheet for this Lesson:  Using Conflict

Comments about this lesson or ideas for extending it are welcome below.

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