Comparing Fables from Different Countries

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SWBAT...chart and analyze similarities and differences between the Native American fable "How Fox Stole Fire", the African fable "Tortoise and the Baboon" and the India fable "The Fox in the Well".

Big Idea

Fables around the world use animals to explain and teach.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

This lesson will help students learn that even though different countries fables are lengthier - they follow a similar format and have similar text features. I want them to learn not only the text format similarities but also the moral similarities between different countries and the connection to their own lives. This crosses over into history (morality, religious beliefs) and into their writing (teaching readers with their stories, lessons in narrative stories) 

I begin asking "What do we already know about fables" to activate students' prior knowledge. 

I then tell students that animals play an important role in many cultures. Many Native American legends and fables use animals to explain how different aspects of life and the Earth came to be.

Today we are going to read three fables from other countries and compare them to what we know about Aesop's fables to learn the ways they are similar and the ways that they differ.

I explain that I will read aloud fables from other countries and we will evaluate how they are similar and different from the ones from our country that we worked on in the prior lessons.  

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I project How Coyote Stole Fire fable on the board and we read it together so that I'm sure all have a basic understanding of the sequence of events and characters.  

I ask students, "Who are the characters in this fable?" "What is the setting?" They did well with these responses so I ask them "What is the first problem faced in the story? and "How is it solved?" In this section students responded with the primary problem - getting fire rather than the initial problem. This signified that I needed to review the sequence of events before we could respond to this and to model more of my thinking so they knew where and how deep to search for the solution. We ended writing a quick sequence of events chart on the board and then I came back to my questioning. I asked for the first and second problems in the fable? and "How each was solved?" This also helped them to see the cause - effect relatiionship in the story events. 

I end by asking "Who learns a lesson in the story?" and finally "What is the moral of the fable?" This was my check for understanding and the results showed that they were improving in this area by sharing some of the common morals listed on our reference sheet, but were still needed more practice with identifying the primary moral and where in the text they could find evidencfe to support their thinking.

After a group discussion I write these on the previous lesson's chart.  



Independent Practice

20 minutes

I tell students they are going to practice identifying the story elements and the moral lesson with a partner. Student partners are instructed that each person will chose a fable to read and complete their charts. Then they will switch fables and complete the second fable chart. 

Here's an example of a student worksheet with each section completed or reference. It didn't photograph so clearly so in this video I review the sections and what indicators to look for to evaluate levels of understanding

When groups are done, they will compare charted notes and debate their responses. This strategy helps students who are still struggling with identifying morals because they can make changes and discuss their responses before they submit their papers to me.

Individually or in their partnered groups students can now respond to the compare/ contrast questions:

How are these fables similar to each other?

How are they different from each other? 

Do they follow the same characteristics of fables we identified on our class chart?

Describe how personification is used in both fables. How does this help readers learn the moral lessons? 


Closing the Loop

10 minutes

Questions from the previous section can be discussed here and students encouraged to identify ways all fables are similar and ways they are different in different countries. 

I like to close with:  Why do you think animals are used in all these stories from all over the world to teach lessons? I want to ask this to get them thinking about the enjoyment children get from reading about animals, how we associate characteristics with animals that help with the story details and hopefully that animals are impersonal and thus readers are not as offended by their actions than they would be if a human acted that way. 

I restate the lesson objective that fables teach lessons through morals learned through animals personifying people.