Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Somebody Wanted But So...
MacOn, Bewell, & Vogt (1991)

Overview: The strategy Somebody Wanted But So... is used to help students understand plot elements such as conflicts and resolutions. It can be used as a "during reading" or "after reading" strategy. The students complete a chart that identifies the character, the goal of the character, what problems or conflicts that are being faced, and what the resolution of the conflict is.


  1. Model the Somebody Wanted But So... strategy by reading a selection aloud and using a chart with four columns: Somebody (character), Wanted (goal/motivation), But (conflict), So (resolution).
  2. Assign a story, or a chapter of a story, to the class to be read silently.
  3. Working in small groups (of 2 or 3), ask the students to fill in the chart and write a statement using the information from the chart.
  4. Each group shares the statement they have created.
  5. Teacher and class discuss these statements.
  6. The next day, students use the strategy independently.


The following suggestions have been adapted from the Kylene Beer (2003) book, When Kids Can't Read: What Can Teachers Do. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Beers has suggested in her book that narrative poems like Shel Silverstein's "I'm Sick and I Cannot Go to School Today" be used for modeling Somebody Wanted But So...

First, after the poem is read aloud, the class discusses who will be the Somebody they want to consider. In this poem, it obviously will be "I," the only character mentioned. Next, the discussion should center around what "I" wanted. One possibility is that this character simply wanted to stay home from school, sick in bed. Then, what caused the problem? But it was not a school day ... it was Saturday. So, "I" recovered immediately and went outside to play.

Next, it is important that when they have finished the chart that a summary sentence using the information on the chart should be written.

When using this strategy with a chapter from a novel, the students should be assigned to fill in the chart using more than one character. However, when they do this, it is important to remind them that each character may have a different point of view.


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