I share a common animal fairy tale, book or movie that kids are familiar with - (I have used "Cats and Dogs" but any animal book or movie works) and ask "When you watched "Cats and Dogs" did you notice the cats and dogs doing things that were similar to what they can really do?" Students can share some responses.
Then ask "How do these actions make the movie more interesting?" then I ask "Why?" to get students to come to the realization that realism in stories helps readers connect to the story plots and characters.
I then state this aloud and add that author's use this strategy to think about what character traits they should use in their stories, and what actions they should have in their plots. This helps their readers to connect with their characters so they want to read their stories.
Today we are going to read a fable titled "The Grasshopper and the Ants" written by Aesop, a Greek storyteller from long ago. We are going to use the knowledge we gained from reading the article "The Super Ant" along with what we already knew about ants and grasshoppers to find places where the author used realism.
I go on...Realism is using true facts and details in a fictional story or poem. In this piece Aesop uses realistic qualities to make his characters of the ants and a grasshopper both believable and entertaining for his readers.
While students pass out the fable I project it on the board and then we read it together.
I then ask students what colors is an ant? (this gets their buy in) and we decide on a color to identify ants (brown). We do the same for grasshoppers (green).
I now tell students we are going to read the fable again but this time with the purpose of underlining things ants really do in brown, grasshoppers really do in green. You can share out things ants and grasshoppers do here and list them on the board if you see struggling students.
I model the first sentence "In a field one summer's day a grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content." - I identify hopping about, chirping and singing as things grasshoppers really can do (realism) and we underline them in green.
I read the next sentence as a think aloud, "A group of ants walked by, grunting as they struggled to carry plump kernels of corn." I ask students - Do ants grunt and struggle? I ask students what part of the sentence contains things ants really do?
I instruct students to continue working with partners underlining the realism used in the rest of the fable with brown and green. I circulate to assist where needed.
Students are instructed to complete the rest of the worksheet form and underline with their table partners using the examples they underline in the fable.
I set the timer for 15 minutes and circulate through the classroom assisting. The primary areas of difficulty were understanding what the word "realism" was referring to in the writing - it helped when I created a visual of the word "realism" with the root Real underlined and the description that these were the real - factual - examples in the passage. They also had difficulty responding to the effect this had on the readers until we talked through how they could relate more to the information they knew was real rather than trying to understand the exaggerated or imaginary features the author included. The facts made sense to their brains and built pictures that helped them to to understand the figurative language additions he added.
Signal is given and students are instructed to turn over the paper and complete the realism evidence and questions sections independently (I copy them back to back)
I circulate to assist where needed and keep struggling students partnered with a helpful peer or together as a small group to help with building understanding.
Students get together with me and we share ways the characters in the fable represent realistic actions of ants and grasshoppers and actions of humans.
I ask probing questions like, "Did you enjoy the fable?" "What did you like about it?" "Do you think that could happen in real life?" and lead up to "Why do you think the author used realistic facts when he created his animal characters?", "Why does he use personification?"
And then ask "How does the use of both increase reader enjoyment of the fable?"
When I get them to make the connection back to it helps them relate to the characters and makes their stories more believable I end the discussion.