top of page

Plot Twist: A Young Girls' Dream, a Jon Bon Jovi Ticket, and an Epic Tale Inspires a Writing Les

It was 2003. I was a 7th grade literacy teacher planning a lesson on the elements of plot. I had been conceptualizing the usage of a plot wave map as a graphic organizer to break down parts of a narrative.

I yearned for my students to connect the relationships of fiction, nonfiction, and personal narratives/memoirs with the writing process.

I wanted them to be able to implement the organization of plot elements to write a story.

I longed for them to be inspired as future authors


I aspired for even my most at-risk students to find a story to tell...

Therefore, I did what I do best.

I shared one of the most exciting experiences in my adolescence,

held them captives in the plot,

mesmerized them with the details, and

broke down the story line

with a class plot diagram,

then, asked them to do the same.


Enormous Plot Wave Map on the Whiteboard

Purpose for Learning:

1)Understand the elements of plot

2) Write personal narrative using the elements of plot as a guide

Flashback 1988 (?)


I am a 19-year-old college student working at the local Friendly's Ice Cream Restaurant in the mall.

My best friend and cousin, Diana, and I receive word that Jon Bon Jovi is coming in concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum.

We haven't any money for tickets.

We fear our parents will not let us go to the concert.

We are determined not only to attend, but to be as close to the stage as possible.

We save every penny we have and begin the "catch more flies with honey" tactics to win over our parents.

Beseeching them, we plead for permission to sleep out all night long at the Spectrum to buy the best tickets. (Our thoughts were that when the tickets went on sale at

10:00 am, we'd be in the front of the line.)

The Eve of the Ticket Sales

Diana and I, prepared with soda and sweets, blankets and pillows, buckled into her 1983 white and blue Firebird, and journeyed over the Walt Whitman Bridge to our destination.

We parked the car and found ourselves third in line for the ticket sales.

We were tickled pink, so much so we couldn't contain ourselves.

The cold weather and biting winds were no match to the excitement warming our bodies and thriving throughout our spirits.

We were



commending each other for our courage

and felt pride in our accomplishments.

The evening waned. The skies darkened and the Philly night invited hundreds upon hundreds of want-to-be concert goers, hoping to buy tickets.

Fear seeped in, but we did not falter.

We remained calm.

Our girlish chatter soon transformed to a quiet hum.

No sleep for the weary. We refused to lose our spot in line.

We would not prevail, or so we thought.

Soon the dark hours crept by and scalpers were abound, loud and surly.

Our resonance began to evoke submission rather than determination.

The line grew longer, in the front of us, as we ended up far behind.

Morning came and our hopes became shattered.

Dismayed at the night's events, we knew that nosebleed seats would be our best chance.

Good Guys Prevail

It was almost 10:00 am. The line was stirring and people were becoming anxious to purchase their tickets.

Diana and I stood quietly, fearing our fate as standing up to the buttinskies and scalpers was not an option.

We were downtrodden and cold.

Who are these men? We pondered, with official outfits, scanning our line. They paraded back and forth, examining the patrons with peering eyes.

Then, approaching my cousin and me, urged us to come out of the line and join them.

What have we done? We despaired. Are we in trouble?

The two workers motioned for us to stand in the front of the line.

No! We exclaimed. It will be trouble!

But, the men stood with us until the clock struck ten and the ticket sales began, escorting us to our very own ticket window!

Wild in the Streets

Obviously, we rejoiced that day and each day thereafter about the heroes who saved the day on that bitter morning.

We implored our good fortune and that good guys do finish first.

Anyone and everyone who knew us had to hear our tale!

From there it was all about what we would wear and every other detail in a young girl's pursuit of her dream come true.

The day finally came and we entered the Spectrum to attend what would be one of the biggest nights of my young life.

We walked down to the concert floor, grasping our sacred tickets, perched in our coveted third row seats.

When the opening act, Cinderella, came on, we stood at the front of the stage barrier, singing and dancing, or more than likely, screaming and laughing in awe.

Bon Jovi took the stage. The crowd was aghast. The audience bellowed as the band belted out the tunes.

And then it happened...

Jon Bon (as I called him) was singing and extending the microphone to the crowd.

Wait... not to just the crowd..., to ME!

I grabbed the mic, clung to it with Jon Bon Jovi and proclaimed myself a solo artist, screaming the worst rendition of the the words "Wild in the Streets"!

AHHH...need I even say more?

The story goes on, but of course, you can only imagine the bittersweet feelings and lack of eventfulness that occurred thereafter.

My students helped me close out the story, since they were enthralled at the tale, interjecting events and thoughts to forward and conclude the plot.

Since this was a lesson, I had to close out the elements, along with various events that encircled great story telling.

I mean, reliving this was great, but my focus was to teach a lesson, so onward I went.

Plot in Action

From, there, I asked my students to break down the parts of my story.

What were the conflicts?


Parent permission

Buying the tickets, and so on...

What events occurred in the rising action that supported the conflicts and led up to a change in the story line?

Waiting in line

Buttinksi's and scalpers

Feeling dismayed

Thinking we would have nosebleed seats

What events led to the Climax?

Workers scanning the line for honest ticket purchasers

Workers moving us to the front of the line.

Buying third row tickets

When did the story change? The Climax?

Standing and singing at the front of the stage.

Singing with Jon BonJovi.

We went on to break down details that were reflective of the remainder of the plot, organizing them on our plot diagram.

Then, we wrote our own stories!

Students were inspired to share events from their lives.

They'd jot down ideas and exclaimed their actions, roaring with excitement, and announcing their feats!

I handed out their plot diagrams and the narratives took shape.

Students broke down their stories, aligning them to plot elements.

They made the connection that a great plot always weaves what happens in the beginning back into the end, reflecting on those events that must be wrapped up with closure.

They added dialogue and sketched out the settings.

They understood that good authors never, ever put ideas, events, or characters that are important to the plot into a story without integrating them into other plot elements.

They added imagery and figurative elements,

descriptive vocabulary and interior monologue.

They were authors of their own stories


it was simply the best song ever sung!


Singing with Jon BonJovi was unequivocally one of the most incredible experiences in my adolescence.

However, the greatest gift was the power that experience evoked in the form of teaching.

How could I know then, that a few off key lyrics with my young heart throb would sustain a legacy of learning?

Ahhh...Life truly is a melody! Sing yours!

Final Thought:

If you happen upon someone strutting down a school corridor, singing Jon Bon Jovi, specifically the song "Wild in the Streets", it might be me. Shhhh! Be kind. I can't hold a note.

Theresa Staley


"We are all here to make a difference, so let's do just that."

This blog is created to share my ideas and inspiration with fellow educators and our world.

bottom of page