I always tell my students that there are many parts of learning how to read. I tell them I am teaching them how to sound out words, learn their sight words, and how to understand what they read. Students need to know that fiction story structure shows a beginning, middle, and end. By analyzing the story structure in our fiction stories we are also laying the foundation for the anchor standard for RL1.3. The anchor standard is CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. When we dive deep into looking at the beginning, which establishes the characters, setting, and a big problem the characters need to solve, the middle, which shows the ways the characters try to solve the problem, and the end, which shows the solution, not only are we addressing RL1.3 but we are also establishing the foundation for the anchor standard.
You will need to prepare some materials before you start this lesson. I have a PDF of the story "The Little Red Hen". You can either copy it and read this to your students, or you can project it on you interactive whiteboard. The project you will be making is based on Dinah Zike's foldable books. These little books are called matchbooks because they resemble the little matchbooks you used to find in restaurants long ago. These books will have a little flap at the bottom that closes up. You will need construction paper to use as the backing. Cut a piece of 12x18 paper horizontally at the 6 inch mark. Make double sided copies of the beginning, middle, and end papers so your students will have lines to write on. Remember to copy the lined paper like it is shown (on the top of the page). When you fold the paper over, the lines will be on the bottom like they should be. You will also copy the clipart, so your students can illustrate their books. You will also want to make a copy of the "Characteristics of a BME (Beginning, Middle, and End). Then you're ready to go.
This section of the lesson is going to be rich with discussion. I partnered my students up and had them sit next to each other on the carpet. Each of the students had a copy of the characteristics of a beginning, middle, and end paper. We discussed each of the characteristics and then we started to read.
I had the book projected on my interactive whiteboard. I said to my students, "Let's look at our characteristics of a beginning, middle, and end paper. The beginning of a story shows the characters, setting and shows a big problem. You will tell me when to stop because each of these parts have been shown Raise your hand when you think I should stop." Students had different opinions but all the students started to raise their hands between pages 6-9. I had them discuss where they thought the beginning part of the story ended and had them justify their answers. Our class had a really rich conversation but were surprised when I didn't tell them there was a definite answer. I kept saying "What do you think about what s/he just said?"
Before I continued reading we went back to our characteristics chart. We talked about how the middle part shows all the different ways the characters try to solve the problem. I said, " You will raise your hand when you think the middle part of the story is done. Raise your hand when you think I should stop." Again, my students had different opinions. They raised their hands between pages 17-20. We had another really great class conversation where they were able to justify what they thought and were able to disagree with their classmates. My students really had to listen to each other to see if they agreed or disagreed.
Then we went on and looked at the characteristics for the ending of a story. We talked about how the problem is solved. This was much easier for the students to pick out because of course I stopped reading at the end. I did make the students talk to their partner about how the problem was finally solved. My class was all in agreement on this part.
Since this was the first time we did a project like this I made the decision that I would model the writing activity for the students. You can see from the scripting that I guided the students into what they should write. I didn't write anything on the board because I didn't want them copying from me. This would just be a copying lesson then. I have planned to do many more activities like this and in future activities I won't be modeling the writing.
I passed out the long strips of construction paper and the papers marked beginning. I showed them how to fold the paper down almost all the way to the bottom and then flip the bottom portion up to make a match like book. I then showed the students how to glue the book to the construction paper. I always tell my students, "You don't need 10 pounds of glue. 4 small drops in the corners will do the trick. Otherwise you won't be able to write on the paper." I then asked the students again, "What did we say happened at the beginning? Who are we talking about? That's right, the little red hen. When we speak and write we need to use complete sentences so the first words we need to write are "The little red hen. Let's write that. Now what did she do. That's right. She planted seeds and it turned it wheat. Let's write that."
Then, you'll pass out the middle papers and the students will fold and glue the papers like they had before. Then write the middle part. When I did this I said, " Who is the main character again? That's right the little red hen. Is that who we're talking about? Let's start our sentence with that. Now what did she do in the middle part of the sentence. That's right. She took the wheat to the miller and baked the bread by herself. Let's write that."
Finally, you are going to pass out the end papers. Have them fold and glue the papers like they did before. When I did the lesson I said, "Who are we talking about? That's right. The little red hen. Let's start with that again. Write that down. What did she do at the end of the story. That's right. She ate the bread herself. Why? That's right, it's because her friends didn't help her. Let's write that down now."
This is the fun part of the project for the students - the artwork. As a class we discussed that their illustrations needed to match what they wrote. I also told them I wanted to see lots of details in their pictures such as clouds, dirt, grass, etc. I let them finish their artwork by themselves.