Unit 1- Story Maps


What are story maps and why are they important?


At the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Identify what a story map consists of.
  • Explain the importance of using one in instruction to improve reading comprehension.


  • In a 2009 study performed by C. Stagliano and R. Boon, research proved that after recieving one-on-one teaching on the story elements and how to create and use a story map, the percentage of comprehension questions answered correctly increased immediately and dramatically. Furthermore, they concluded that there is a direct correlation between correct identification of story elements and percent answered correctly on comprehension questions. (Think state tests! Story maps may be extrememly beneficial for children when they are taking high stakes state tests.)
  • The results of a 1993 study performed by J. Baumann and B. Bergeron affirmed that teaching students about story parts enables them to recognize and recall important elements in various types of literature. The researchers are firm advocates that story mapping is a useful and effective technique that all elementary teachers ought to add to their repertoire of comprehension instruction strategies.
  • Story maps assist students in identifying characters, plots, settings, themes, and bits of specific, important information from pieces of literature. They have been proven to help improve children's comprehension level of literature at many grade levels, within multiple subjects, and especially among students with learning disabilities.
  • Explore the following webpage for some basic information on story maps: http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/story_maps/

After exploring the Reading Rockets webpage a bit, go to the following page for a summary of some basic background information as well as examples of story maps:

Story Map Basics

Learning activities

It is often difficult for educated adults to identify with a student having difficulty comprehending a simple peice of literature after reading it. After all, we have already gone through the learning process for comprehension, and automatically begin to organize the various story elements, comprehending as we read. To better understand how helpful story maps can be to elementary children who are struggling with comprehension, you will complete the following activity.

Open the accompanying links in separate pages/tabs by right clicking when it is time!

  1. Listen to the following story (do NOT watch the story, if it helps minimize the browser as you listen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4LBcMtKNHs
  2. Answer these questions: Unit 1- Story Comprehension Questions
  3. Listen to the following story (do NOT watch the story, if it helps minimize the browser as you listen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcoA2js1N18
  4. While listening, fill in the following story map (you may choose to print it out or type the headings into your own word processing document): Unit 1- Story map template
  5. Answer these questions using your completed story map: Unit 1- Story Comprehension Questions
  6. Now you may listen to the stories again and determine which questions you answered correctly!


Go to the discussion board for this unit and reflect on the following:

  1. For which story were you able to answer the comprehension questions faster? Why (even if it was not because of the story map!)?
  2. What is your experience with story maps? As a student, do you remember using them? As a teacher, have you used them in your instruction?
  3. What are some questions or concerns you have or would like to have answered in the coming units of this mini-course?

Reflect here: Creating Talk:Unit 1- Story Maps

What's next?

Go to: Unit 2- Story Maps

Return to:

Using Story Maps in Elementary Classrooms