The Somebody Wanted But So (SWBS) strategy can be used with both narrative and informational texts during and after reading. It provides a framework for analyzing  stories or historical events by identifying important components pertaining to characters, individuals or groups. This strategy helps students focus on main idea, cause and effect, conflict/resolution, and various points of view.


  1. Pre-select a text (story, video, etc.) or real-life event for use with the SWBS strategy. The selected text or event may be new or something related to the current unit of study. Provide students with access to the provided SWBS graphic organizer template or have them sketch it in their notebooks.
  2. Introduce the purpose of the SWBS strategy and use a recent text or familiar event to model how students use SWBS strategy.
  3. Ask students to write down the name of the person in the first column and prior to asking them to complete the second column (Wanted), explain that they will identify what that person is wanting, such as their goal or motivation. Before completing the third column (But), explain that in this column they will identify the conflict, challenge, or barrier to the person’s goal or motivation. Next, explain in the “So” column, they will record what the person or group did in an attempt to resolve the conflict, challenge, or barrier. Finally, before completing the “then” column, explain to students that they will explain the outcome and how the conflict or barrier is resolved.
  4. Provide students with opportunities to work together or in small groups while learning the strategy. The goal is to provide scaffolding until students are ready to use the SWBS strategy independently.



  • How was this strategy helpful to you in understanding a person, character, group of people, or event?
  • What new or different perspectives did you discover that you hadn’t previously considered?
  • How does the thought process you used in the Somebody Wanted But So strategy transfer to real life?
  • While students may begin with a teacher-provided photocopy of a SWBS graphic organizer template, it should quickly become one that students create independently in their notebooks.
  • Preparing students to effectively use the SWBS strategy should be a gradual release process that provides modeling and scaffolding. For example, the teacher may complete the SWBS with the whole class before having students do it with a partner or independently.
  • After completing the SWBS, engage students in a Writing to Learn opportunity to summarize their new learning or respond to some of their classmates’ ideas as an Exit Slip for the lesson.
  • Consider pairing an Academic Dialogue strategy such as Think-Ink-Pair-Share or Paired Verbal Fluency where students engage in sharing and discussion of their SWBS graphic organizers.



Students analyzing the Women’s Suffrage movement will determine how various persons and/or groups were involved,
the motivation of those person(s) and/or groups, and what barriers were faced that led to the outcome.


Students read a children’s book or fairy tale in the target language and use SWBS to write about what they understood about characters and plot from the story, either in English or the  target language.


Students studying successful athletes will learn about their motivation, struggles, and outcomes that lead to their success.


When learning about scientists and their scientific discoveries, students will learn more about the scientists’ engagement in the scientific process that include hypothesis testing, obstacles and results.