Story Structure: No Problem Too Big

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SWBAT...determine a theme of the story, "The Tale of Oki Island" from text details and the characters responses to challenges

Big Idea

Reading about solutions to problems helps identify each character's motivations! There is a consequence to every decision they (and we) make.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I start the lesson by asking my students to think of a time they had a big problem in their life. I then ask them to think about the way they solved it. Give a moment and then ask them to share their problem-solution with their friends. Here's a video of why I chose this sharing strategy

Come back together and ask them what they learned from solving their problems. If they get stuck here I tell them a short story about a series of problems I had last Friday and how I solved them - I usually make the learning a lesson like determination, perseverance, importance of caring for others, etc. so that they can make a connection to the lesson in the story.

This is where I share the objective for today's lesson - that they will read "The Tale of Oki Island" and then evaluate the problems Tokoyo faced and how she overcame them. You will keep track of these by creating a problem - solution chart for the story so that you understand why Tokoyo made the choices she did.


Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I introduce the problem-solution chart and tell students we will complete the first section together. 

We read the first paragraph again and I think aloud that she misses her dad and wants to get him back. I ask students how we can write this as a problem sentence. This questioning helps me to do a quick check of their abilities to identify the problem in the passage. Mine were all able to, but if you have any that struggle this would be a good place to have them turn and talk about their sentences - they could also do this quickly on whiteboards to ensure all were understanding. I then ask students to read with me a little further to identify the solution she decides to do to fix the problem. (I stop when she decides to set out to find her dad) I ask students to share the solution she chose. I debated asking for the new problem this choice might cause because although it would encourage them to think more deeply about the text, it might also cause them to lose sight of the identifying evidence in the text component of the worksheet. I chose to wait until the closing of the lesson to share more about the cause-effect relationship to ensure they stayed on task. 

If students get this lesson from here, I release them to do the rest either in partners or independently (this depends on how familiar they are with this worksheet, and how high of a reading level they are at - partner struggling/ lows)

Here's an example and a review of a student's completed chart and what to look for while they are working


Independent Learning

15 minutes

I set at timer and have students read and complete the problem-solution chart. I only had five boxes used but if they feel they need more you have two options - combine two in one box or have them attach Post-it notes to each section to add another box.

I circulate the room to identify errors, difficulties and early finishers. Redirect the errors to the correct sections, encourage good sentence writing, and have peers discuss where and why they found their evidence as a model for struggling students.

When completed with the charting all students were asked to respond to the final question on "What characteristics were most important in this story? Why?" with explanation and support from the story.

This question was difficult for them to understand in the beginning and I had to stop and explain what was being asked. I had them pull out their Character Trait List and first reviewed what character traits did Tokoyo have? (you could write them on the board if you have visual learners) and then how did those traits help her to overcome her problems? As soon as a few students shared some character traits the light bulbs of what was expected started going off - and they were writing again!    


Closing the Loop

5 minutes

I want students to make the connection between the characteristics of the theme, the Japanese traditional beliefs, the story structure, the setting, the character traits of the main characters, ect. that are necessary for the suspense and story sequence of events to occur. This is can be a lot for students to think about so I use a group response structure where they all write their initial answers and then we share ideas and they add on to what they wrote (helps with understanding what is being asked and with deeper evaluation of the text). Here's an example of a student's response with the additional shared information added to her response.

If they already have completed this, then this is a great time for them to share their responses to build class comprehension. I had them first peer share, then I called for a whole class share-out. (good to log these on the board so that they have a reference for the next question)

We come back to their prior personal problem - solution stories. I ask them what trait do they have in common with Toyoko? How does this trait help you in life? This connection to the story will help them build interest and understanding of the lesson she and her father learned in the next lesson, and keeps them focused on the guiding question in today's learning.