This year, I’ve challenged myself to rethink genre instruction so that students gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the three main types. In order to build stronger connections between reading and writing, I reworked my units so that they are completely intertwined. Just as with my non-fiction units, you’ll find lessons focused mainly on reading skills in a unit called, “All About Fiction” while those centered around writing skills in a unit called, “Fictional Writing.” In my classroom, both units were taught simultaneously over a nine-week period.
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.
These reading lessons all follow a similar routine: a mini-lesson where I demonstrate that day’s skill, partner practice where students work together to do the work just modeled in a pre-selected text, and then independent work where students work alone in a self chosen text.
Today students will “show what they know.” Over the past several days, we’ve worked on identifying elements of plot in folktales as a whole group and in small groups. Each day, students learned about a new piece of the plot, where each is located in a story, and why it was important. Today, students will complete a short check in to show what they’ve been working on and show what they know about fictional elements.
I ask students to pull out their fictional texts and pencils. At the beginning of the unit, I selected three texts from Learning A-Z’s folktale collection for small groups and partners to use during these lessons. Each student was given either a fairy tale, fable, or tall tale. During the lessons, students worked with their partners, who have the same title, to repeat the task modeled during the mini-lesson. They located the applicable portion of their texts, reread it, underlined necessary evidence, and then labeled with a bracket. I pass out the short quiz and explain the task. “The test today should be very simple. If you’ve been successful in completing the partner practice over the past few weeks, then all it requires of you is to copy the evidence you found onto your paper. The test lists five elements of plot that we’ve found to be important to fiction stories: introduction, conflict, resolution, conclusion, and theme. You simply need to find each element in your story and write down the examples you identified with the page numbers where you found them. Super simple! When you’re finished, check over to make sure that your answers are complete before turning it in.”