The “Somebody-Wanted-But-So” activity is a classic in many middle school English classes. I tend to use it to help students with the classic Plot Triangle. I have students do this activity immediately after reading the story (preferably after second read through) and then label the parts on the Plot Triangle.
The “Somebody-Wanted-But-So” activity is a hybrid of a graphic organizer and a step by step process that provides an excellent foundation for students to wrestle with the deeper issues of stories.
But I always found it lacking.
So I changed it to “Somebody-Wanted-But/Because-So”
Below is the typical narrative I use when explaining this activity to my students. There is much ad-libbing and many dumb-jokes thrown into the mix – Insert your own middle school jokes liberally throughout…
OK, write down the following on your paper:
Think about the classic fairy tale “Cinderella” and fill in the words above…
(Here I say: Ok, let’s start with Cinderella…write her name down…)
(Here I ask: What is it that she wants? Discussion follows)
Wanted: to go to the annual ball
(Here I ask: But what or Because why?)
But/Because: but her evil step mom was jealous of her beauty
Here I ask: So then what? What happened?)
So: Cinderella stayed home and scrubbed floors
The “But/Because” part can be tricky: you need to decide which transition word to use that would be the most logical for the sentence…sometimes it is “but” and sometimes it is “because”. For example…
Wanted: to go to the annual ball to get her groove on…
But/Because: because she wanted to dance
So: (you can’t really logically complete the thought; it does not make sense)
OK, now put this into a summary sentence or two:
In the fairy tale, “Cinderella”, Cinderella wanted to go to the annual ball, but her evil step mom was jealous of her beauty. So (as a result), Cinderella was forced to stay home and scrub floors.
Remember you can change the “So” to “As a result” or another transition whenever appropriate.
You can change who/what the “Somebody” is and continue the process for different perspectives! Try starting with the Prince…what does he want? Try it!
With practice, you can go through this process quickly. This strategy can give you confidence to discuss the story with peers and to deeply think about the story.
I hope this helps you! I have had students come back from high school to tell me they still use this right after reading to get a basic foundation for analysis.