All Subjects
      All Types




        Permitted Use

        Part of WNET
        239 Favorites

        Interpreting Characters, Setting, Plot, and Theme - The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Disaster

        While viewing a video documenting the real-life story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, students wil complete a story elements graphic organizer.  This organizer will help them distinguish various story elements and put them in the proper order.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video segment chronicling the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Using a story elements graphic organizer, students determine the various elements of the story and arrange them in the correct order on the organizer.

        Why is this an important concept?

        In order to fully understand any story, a reader must be able to recognize its various parts. Distinguishing between characters, realizing the effects of the setting, recognizing the conflict, and following the development of a plot to its climax and eventual resolution are essential. The reader must understand these first in order to comprehend the deeper layers of a story, such as its symbolisms and themes.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        (1) 45-minute period

        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        1. Provide the purpose for the activity: to identify the various story elements and arrange them correctly on the graphic organizer.

        2. Ask the students to list the major elements of a narrative.  What does each element contain?  Teacher guides this discussion during a brief question and answer session.

        3. Explain to the students that they will be watching a video that depicts the events that occurred in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster.  As they watch The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Disaster video, ask students to determine the specific story elements of this narrative.  Who are the main characters?  What is the setting?  What are the most important events that lead up to the tragedy?  Have them take notes regarding these items on a sheet of loose-leaf paper.

        4. After watching the video, conduct a teacher-guided question and answer session in which you ask the students to share the story elements’ notes they created while watching the video the first time.  What people, items or places did they include in their answers and why?  Also ask what items they did not include and what made them decide these things were not relevant.

        Part II: Assessment

        1. Distribute The Triangle Shirtwaist Story handout. Ask students to watch the video a second time and complete the graphic organizer.

        2. After watching the video a second time, ask students to compare their graphic organizers to the lists they created while watching the video the first time. Did they add information or take away information? Ask them what was added and/or deleted and why.

        3. Once students’ graphic organizers are discussed, ask them if there is a resolution in the narrative. Are resolutions always present or important in stories? Why or why not? Ask them to give reasons to support their opinions.

        4. Finally, ask students to state the overall theme of the story. Discuss possible themes during a teacher-guided question and answer session.

        5. Collect graphic organizers, and use The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory rubric to assess students’ understanding of story elements as they are presented in this depiction.

        For students who need additional guidance:

        • Allow students to watch the video segment multiple times.
        • Provide extended time to complete The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory graphic organizer or work with a partner to complete organizer.
        • Students may consult corresponding web sites for more information regarding the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster.


        You must be logged in to use this feature

        Need an account?
        Register Now