By the time students come to third grade, they’ve been exposed to several types of folktales. While I feel this is an important genre to study, I want to be sure that this unit extends what they already know and gives them a better understanding of the genre as a whole. Part of this understanding is gathered through questioning - asking critical questions of the text, of the author, and of the world. Throughout the unit, students practice skills they learned throughout the year including compare and contrast, summarizing, determining theme, and characterization.
This unit includes both reading and writing lessons. While reading and learning about fairy tales, fables, and tall tales, students wrote their own fictional stories that were modeled after one of the genres studied.
Today's lesson is the first in a series. Although I’m not a fan of it, I find myself using a lot of direct instruction. This year has been one of great change where everything is new and everything is assessed. Learning new programs, using new standards, and carving time for testing has taken a toll on my planning - and teaching - time. And sadly, I’ve found that when pressed for time I tend to fall back into being that “sage on the stage” rather than having students direct their own learning. I’m determined to change that in this unit and start today by involving students in an inquiry about the folktales genre.
I created a fiction vocabulary notebook to go along with our unit. We used it several ways throughout the many weeks that we studied the genre. In some of those lessons, the notebook is mentioned and in other lessons, students are simply asked to have it out as a resource, if needed during the period. You can use it however you like; here’s just a few ways it could be used in your classroom!
Before the unit. There are some who believe it’s important to pre-teach vocabulary before introducing the content itself. Sort of like “pre-loading” so that students have a bank of knowledge upon which to draw when needed. In this case, words could be introduced in groups according to how they’re related to each other. For example, ‘character,’ ‘physical description,’ and ‘character traits’ could be taught together to show similarities, differences, and links between the three. ‘Narrator,’ ‘reader,’ ‘author,’ and ‘point of view’ could be taught together in order to explore their connected relationship.
During a unit. Some teachers believe that it is important to teach words within context rather than separately or on their own. In this case, a portion of the notebook could be completed each day as a new element is introduced within a text. This is how the notebook was primarily used in my classroom. You can see examples of this in my lessons on Folktales.
As an Assessment. The entire notebook, or pieces of it, could be copied again and given as a quick formative or summative assessment. Students could be asked to provide both the definitions for each term and/or examples from a selected that show they are able to apply what they know about each term. I used the ‘point of view’ pages this way in class. Students practiced seeing one event from a text from the point of view of two characters and then wrote their own perspectives.