Character Actions and Reactions - Learning from Fable Characters

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SWBAT...determine themes in six Aesops Fables, justify their responses with text support, and identify a common pattern found in fables.

Big Idea

Characters in fables help teach us moral lessons.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

In this video I share some adaptations and areas to consider with this lesson


I have students come together and tell them I am going to read them a fable by Aesop titled, The Wolf and the Kid.  I explain that it is about a wolf and a little goat.  This is necessary to address the possible misconception that kid means "child".

Before I start I tell them that we are going to try to listen with the purpose of identifying what the moral lesson is in the story.

I read and pause at places to think aloud about the story events (connect the little goat acting all "grown up" to your own life), (not listening), (getting himself into trouble), (coming up with a quick plan to get out of the trouble), etc.

When we are done I say "Wow, that was a close one! What lesson do you think the little kid learned?"

I then share that the fable doesn't end by talking about the goat but rather about the wolf. The author must want the readers to end realizing the wolf's lesson learned, too.

I ask, "Using what you know about wolves, why was the wolf out in the woods?"  

I then ask, "Did he accomplish his goal to catch an animal to eat?" 

Finally ask "What lesson did the wolf  learn?" (Don't get distracted from your goal)

I introduce the objective., "Today you are going to get the opportunity to read six different Aesop's fables and to determine the moral lesson for each of them using the thinking and questioning process we just demonstrated on "The Wolf and the Kid" 

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

Students pass out fables and morals and I instruct students to take out their scissors and glue sticks.

I have students read the morals with me and answer any questions they have on what each means in "kid-friendly language". I have mine take notes on their worksheets where needed to gain understanding of vocabulary or phrases that are confusing.   

I ask students to identify the moral of the fable we just read, "The Wolf and the Kid" -  (don’t let anything turn you away from your purpose). They struggled with this one because its not literal but rather implied in the fable. To get them understanding I had them narrow down the choices to a few and then prompted them with what was his task?, what problems did he face on the way? did he complete it afterall? what was the reward? to help them make the connection between the moral and the events in the story. Modeling this questioning will also help them when they work in small groups or independently

I ask students to turn to a partner and share a short summary of how the wolf learned this lesson. I signal and call on students to respond and add their ideas to the chart projected on the board. I do this to help those with lower levels of understanding to hear peer responses and reasonings and see how each matches up to their own ideas.

I ask students to read the next fable "The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse" with their partners/groups and to determine the moral of the fable.

Students work in teams to complete the second fable with a cut/paste moral and explanation of text evidence  

I circulate to determine if they are ready for independent working or need another partnered read/respond fable. In this case most can move on to independent and the few who struggle I bring back to my table to work with in a small discussion group. 

Independent Learning

20 minutes

Students continue to read the next four fables and to cut/paste the correct morals to each. They will write their text evidence to support their choices made for each story.   

I circulate and help as needed - If struggling students are identified they can be partnered with stronger learners or moved to a small teacher-led group at the back table.

Early finishers will respond to the following focus question on whiteboards:

What are some similarities that you see between all these fables?

What are some generalizations (statements) you can make about fables?

I want students to evaluate their fables and to compare and contrast each. I ask them to do this because this will help them to understand the characteristics of fables (strong vs weaker animals, humbleness, pride, logic, etc.) and to make corrections to their papers as they review each fables format. 

Closing the Loop

5 minutes

We come together and share morals identified and the reasons we feel they are accurate. I post the answer sheet so that they can assess how well they did with the activity. I collect their papers so that I can reteach struggling students in smaller groups since the next lessons do not focus so much on the identifying morals part of the unit. 

I ask students "What are some ways these characters demonstrated personification in these fables?"

"How do these morals sound similar to what your parents or grandparents would say?" 

We close with a response and discussion on "What are some characteristics that are similar in all these fables?" I expect students to identify that the fables are all fiction.  They have animals in them that act like humans/ personification, the main characters make a mistake that helps them learn a lesson, they are short stories, they teach morals, and they have 2-3 characters.

This an important step because I write their responses on our chart and then use this a reference for their follow up lessons and with their reading groups.