This is a series of lessons using Native American literature that I run concurrently with a Native American Research Unit. It is part of a bigger unit on generational stories that my district is implementing. The students learn a lot from studying informational text while pairing it with literature. It also helps meet the 50/50 ratio of informational text to fiction recommended for third grade Common Core standards. My team and I chose The Rough-Face Girl as our shared reading text for this particular week, because it is a grade appropriate text falling in our Lexile band at 540. This series of lessons happened to take place our first week of school! I was just getting to know my students as learners, and we completed most of the work together. It was such an exciting time, and the students really enjoyed kicking off the year with great Native American literature and retelling ropes. I hope I've got them hooked! Please watch this short video to get an idea about the how and why behind this lesson and how it can work for you!
For today's review, I'll gather my tribe around the pretend fire for a recap of this week's new learning.
The Great Storyteller (teacher) Shares Another Native American Story:
Similar to lesson one and two, I begin by reciting a short Native American story. Today, I'm sharing "Why Opossum Has a Bare Tail" (See resource file: Why Opossum Has a Bare Tail). We use our recounting/retelling ropes and/or anchor chart to retell the story with a partner that is sitting next to us around the fire. This encourages students to practice their speaking and listening skills. (See resource files: Retelling Rope and Recounting a Story Anchor Poster) After I've given partners enough time to practice retelling, I ask my tribe to tell me what the lesson is of this story. I ask them for evidence, such as events, or what characters day or do. For example, if the students say, the lesson of "Why Opossum Has a Bare Tail" is to be yourself. I'll say, "What happened in the story to make you think the author wants you to be yourself?" There are a few different lessons that can be interpreted from this short story, so I let students name as many as they can, as long as they have evidence to support their choices.
Review Academic Vocabulary (Anchor Chart Academic Vocabulary Sample):
We review our academic vocabulary for this week's unit using our poster, including:
generational literature: stories that have been handed down from one generation to the next
traditional literature genre: stories that were once passed along by word of mouth; like the telephone game
culture: the customs and beliefs of a group of people, including their language, food, clothing, religion, and their way of life
folktale: a story from the "folk" (people), usually passed down through oral tradition
Native American: first American (before it was America!)
I move my tribe back to their seats for the introduction and reading of our new Cinderella story.
I remind the students that yesterday, we discovered that not all Cinderellas wear a glass slipper! I tell them that today, not all Native American Cinderellas are the same, either!
I lead my tribe with a brief introduction to Sootface: An Ojibwa Native American Story by using the SMART Board file provided in the resource section. (Sootface Introduction) Within the file, we locate the tribe, learn a few facts, and are introduced to some story vocabulary. Also, we have a discussion about how close the Ojibwa tribe is to the Algonquin tribe where The Rough-Face Girl originated. I ask students how they think this ties into stories being passed from one tribe to another, changing, and being passed through time.
*Note: I've included a pdf version of my SMART Notebook file, with the interactive elements revealed in case you don't have a SMART Board.
Set the Purpose for Reading:
Right before we begin reading the story, we set our purpose for reading. I tell the students, "Today, we are reading to compare and contrast this story, Sootface: An Ojibwa Native American Story, to the story you read yesterday, The Rough-Face Girl. We are going to be comparing all of the skills that we've been working on with our recounting/retelling ropes. As you read, be thinking about how the genre, characters, setting, plot, problem, solution, and author's message are alike and different." I additionally post a visual for students to look at, like the picture I've attached for you to see. (See resource file: Sootface Purpose for Reading Poster)
Read Sootface: An Ojibwa Native American Story.
You may want to read the story together, as a whole class, if you feel your students need that support. Sometimes, I start my students out, reading the first couple of pages, we check our comprehension, and then I have them finish the story on their own. The Common Core State Standards for ELA encourage as much reading to be done by the students as possible.
After reading I have students practice their recounting/retelling using their ropes with a partner or two.
My tribe completes the Sootface and Rough-Face Girl Venn diagram activity to show what they know about the two stories. I start them out by doing the comparison of the characters with them. Then, they complete the rest on their own. (See resources file: Sootface and Rough-Face Girl Venn Diagram)
*This is a great opportunity for early finishers to complete some of the extension activities I suggest. Having a good supply of Native American stories on hand, as well as informational text about different tribes offers students meaningful reading and writing time. See my list of favorite Native American stories in lesson four.
Review New Learning:
Our tribe gathers around the fire at the end of the class period to share our thoughts about Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story, and compares and contrasts it to The Rough-Face Girl. I seek input from students for questions and discussion, but if I need to lead, I have questions prepared to ask my tribe. (See Resource File: Questions for Discussion)
A Peek at Tomorrow!
I give the students a little peek at tomorrow, letting them know I have lots of Native American stories, and they're going to get to chose one or more to read on their own. I'll be beginning tomorrow's class by giving short "book talks" around the fire.
We end our time together by learning how to say thank you in the Ojibwa language. It is "Miigwech", pronounced mee-gwatch.
At Home: Provide research links for your students to do some online research at home. Invite them to share any new facts each day that you gather at the fire.
Native American Folktale Center or Follow-up Practice Activity: Offer your students a wide variety of Native American folktales to read. Ask them to retell the stories using their recounting ropes, or by writing our their recountings. (See Resource File: Recounting a Folktale Practice Page)
Cultural Research Center: Provide students with informational research materials about the tribes where the folktales originated from. Ask them to take notes on a particular tribe and report their findings in a class book page. See my Native American Research lessons on cc.betterlesson.
Native American Listening Center: Provide one or more Native American folktales for students to enjoy at a listening center. Use this as another opportunity to practice recounting folktales. I record my own listening centers to match our weekly stories. This is a great way to have conversations about the thematic topic of the week, and a way to model good prosody. I offer a couple of different choices for differentiation of the level of the text, as well as the text itself. Some Native American selections I offer my students are The Legend of Bluebonnet (740 Lexile Level) by Tomie dePaola, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (840 Lexile Level) by Tomie dePaola, The Flute Player by Michael Lacapa, and The Legend of the Old Man of the Mountain by Denise Ortakales.