Great Storytellers In the Making! The Tribe Prepares to Share Native American Literature Day 4 of 5

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SWBAT read a piece of Native American literature, and then complete a retelling page including: genre, characters, setting, plot, problem, solution, and author's lesson. SWBAT give evidence through key details in the text to support the author's lesson.

Big Idea

The students get to choose from a wide variety of Native American stories. They read, complete a retelling sheet, author's lesson sheet, and prepare to present in front of the tribe.

Welcome to My Lesson Video Narrative

This is a series of lessons using Native American literature that I run concurrently with a Native American Research Unit.  It is part of a bigger unit on generational stories that my district is implementing.  The students learn a lot from studying informational text while pairing it with literature.  It also helps meet the 50/50 ratio of informational text to fiction recommended for third grade Common Core standards.  My team and I chose The Rough-Face Girl as our shared reading text for this particular week, because it is a grade appropriate text falling in our Lexile band at 540.  This series of lessons happened to take place our first week of school!  I was just getting to know my students as learners, and we completed most of the work together.  It was such an exciting time, and the students really enjoyed kicking off the year with great Native American literature and retelling ropes.  I hope I've got them hooked!  Please watch this short video to get an idea about the how and why behind this lesson and how it can work for you! 

Gather Around the Fire With the Great Storyteller

15 minutes

For today's review, I'll gather my tribe around the pretend fire for a recap of this week's new learning.

The Great Storyteller (teacher) Shares Another Native American Story:

Similar to previous days this week, I begin by reciting a short Native American story.  Today, I'm sharing "Rabbit Plays Tug-of-War".  We use our recounting/retelling ropes and/or anchor chart to retell the story with a partner that is sitting next to us around the fire. This encourages students to practice their speaking and listening skills. (See resource files:  Retelling Rope and Recounting a Story Anchor Poster)  After I've given partners enough time to practice retelling, I ask my tribe to tell me what the lesson is of this story.  I ask them for evidence, such as events, or what characters day or do.  (See Resource File:  Rabbit Plays Tug-of-War, Retelling Ropes Photo, and Recounting a Story Anchor Poster)


Review Academic Vocabulary (Anchor Chart Academic Vocabulary Sample):

We review our academic vocabulary for this week's unit using our poster, including:

  • generational literature:  stories that have been handed down from one generation to the next
  • traditional literature genre:  stories that were once passed along by word of mouth; like the telephone game
  • culture: the customs and beliefs of a group of people, including their language, food, clothing, religion, and their way of life
  • folktale:  a story from the "folk" (people), usually passed down through oral tradition
  • Native American:  first American (before it was America!)


Native American Literature Book Talks:

Prior to today, I enlisted the help of my school librarian, and local library to help me gather Native American stories for my class.  Librarians are wonderful resources!  I give them an idea of the level of my readers.  This year, I required books in the 100-750 Lexile level.  Between my own resources, and the two libraries, I gathered about 60 Native American stories within my students' reading levels.  I've included a list for you of some of the ones I've noticed my students really enjoy.  (See resource file Great Native American Literature to Use With Your Third Grade Students)

I tell the class that today is an exciting day!  Our tribe has been working hard all week on recounting/retelling important parts of a story, as well as comparing and contrasting similar texts.  I congratulate them on a job well done, and tell them they'll get to choose a Native American piece of literature today that is just right for them (We've previously done lessons on picking a just right book.).  

For about ten minutes, I give a brief, engaging book talk about many of the Native American stories that I have for students to choose from.  The book talk may include reading a short snippet, showing some pictures, and or discussing a catchy title.  They are quick, at about 30 seconds a book, for about ten to fifteen books.  The idea is that I hook all of my students into wanting to read, read, read!

One thing that I have found very helpful is to keep a list of supplemental books for each story topic, genre, or theme in our reading units.  The list for this particular week of lessons that I have includes Native American Literature.  I add to the list every year, so I don't forget to have all of my favorites checked out for that week.  It also helps cut down on my work load by giving the list to my school librarian, local librarian, or parent helpers who help collect the books for me.  Many library systems let you create lists right on your account that are easy to access.

Exploring Native American Literature

40 minutes

Students Read Native American Selection of Their Choice:

At this time, my students read a Native American story of their choice.  We had worked earlier in the year on finding "just right" books, so my students know how to locate a book that interests them and is at their level.  This is a good time for me to go around the room and listen in to students' reading, as well as check how they are doing with the recounting, author's lesson, and evidence skills.

Students Complete a Retelling/Recounting, and Author's Lesson Activity:

Option One:  After the students are done reading, they complete the retelling sheet and author's lesson page to go along with their Native American story. (See resource file:  Retelling Planning Sheet and Authors Lesson Response Page)

Option Two:  The students complete a Google form to record their retelling, and author's lesson with evidence.

Students Practice Their Retelling and Lessons:

After the students have completed the lesson activity, they practice reading it over and over, for when they are "The Great Storyteller" tomorrow.  I have students practice with whisperphones, which are small tube-like telephones that allow them to hear themselves speaking, and not disturb others around them.  We also use iPods to make recording and listen to ourselves.  The idea is to get my students comfortable with the material they will be presenting around the pretend fire tomorrow.

Sending home the retelling page, author's lesson sheet, or access to the Google form will allow students to practice with an audience at home.  I make copies of my students' pages, just in case they forget to bring them back for the big day tomorrow!

Celebrate New Learning

5 minutes

I gather my tribe around the campfire and review today's new learning.  We have a short discussion of the Native American literature they read on their own today.  I explain that I'm excited for them to become "The Great Storyteller" tomorrow and share what they've learned.

Extension Activities & Lesson Extras

At Home:  Provide research links for your students to do some online research at home.  Invite them to share any new facts each day that you gather at the fire.

Native American Folktale Center or Follow-up Practice Activity:  Offer your students a wide variety of Native American folktales to read.  Ask them to retell the stories using their recounting ropes, or by writing our their recountings.  (See Resource File:  Recounting a Folktale Practice Page)

Cultural Research Center:  Provide students with informational research materials about the tribes where the folktales originated from.  Ask them to take notes on a particular tribe and report their findings in a class book page.  See my Native American Research lessons on cc.betterlesson.

Native American Listening Center:  Provide one or more Native American folktales for students to enjoy at a listening center.  Use this as another opportunity to practice recounting folktales.  I record my own listening centers to match our weekly stories.  This is a great way to have conversations about the thematic topic of the week, and a way to model good prosody.  I offer a couple of different choices for differentiation of the level of the text, as well as the text itself.  Some Native American selections I offer my students are The Legend of Bluebonnet (740 Lexile Level) by Tomie dePaola, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (840 Lexile Level) by Tomie dePaola, The Flute Player by Michael Lacapa, and The Legend of the Old Man of the Mountain by Denise Ortakales.