Unique Ways to Teach the Central Message of Folktales



Two Boys and a Dad Productions



For the past few years, I have always taught finding the central message (or moral or lesson) of a story as a separate standard.  But this year I tried something different and it is working very well in helping my students understand how the problem and solution and character traits all work together to construct the central message.

Now rather than teach each literature standard separately, I teach them in a combined form using cause and effect.  I started my Folktale Unit with Native American folktales.  For example, if you look at the chart made by my class below for the folktale The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie DePaola, you will see that we identified the problem and the solution in the story.



Two Boys and a Dad Productions



In this particular story, the people were suffering from drought and famine.  The solution was for She-Who-Is-Alone to give up her most prized possession so that the Great Spirits would stop punishing the people for their selfishness.  But what drove the girl to give up her warrior doll, the only connection she had left to her deceased family?

For that, we examined character traits.  We determined that She-Who-Is-Alone was selfless, loving and giving.  We backed up our claim with evidence from the story.  Finally, we constructed a cause and effect sentence that stated the central message:



Two Boys and a Dad Productions



Another way I teach finding the central message and supporting it with evidence is to use these Central Message Puzzle Cards.  I've used them a few years now and the students always enjoy using them.  I think a great way to introduce and practice finding the central message (and supporting with evidence) is to use stories the students are usually familiar with which are fairy tales.  I made these puzzles using some well-known fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.  



Two Boys and a Dad Productions




I have both color and black and white copies of the puzzles.  First I always ask my students which fairy tales they're already familiar with so I can eliminate those they don't know (in the past, though, I try to find a short version of the one that they're not familiar with so we can practice with that one too.)  Would you like to try the FREE SAMPLER?  Click HERE!



Two Boys and a Dad Productions


Each puzzle has three parts:  the central message, the title and illustration, and evidence to support the central message.  I take all the parts that have the central message and I read them out loud.  Then we try to match a central message to a fairy tale title.  Lots of great discussion goes on as students try to defend their choices.  Then once we've matched a fairy tale to a central message, I ask them to prove it by citing some text evidence.  Again, lots of good discussion about what is evidence and we indirectly discuss character traits.  Once the evidence has been shown we put the puzzle together.  For the cut up puzzles, I use the black and white versions and leave the color versions intact.  I also create a blackline master of the puzzle pieces for independent practice.




Two Boys and a Dad Productions




As part of the Folktale Unit, not only do I use Native American folktales, but we delve into Greek myths as well.  These are some of my favorite stories to teach about.  Though they have lasted well over thousands of years, these stories still entertain my students every year.  The Greek gods and other Greek characters are complex characters that lend themselves well to analysis of their traits.



Two Boys and a Dad Productions




One thing I have noticed about teaching character traits (the concept already having been introduced and practiced with the Native American folktales), is that students get stuck with very limited ways to describe a character's behavior.  Or conversely, they describe characters incorrectly because they don't fully understand the definition of certain traits.  Just the other day, I had students confuse dull with lazy!

To help expand their vocabulary and really pick appropriate character traits, I developed a Character Traits PowerPoint that has 25 character traits. Each trait is introduced through a scenario that provides clues to the trait.  Then a picture is shown with some dialogue a person who exhibited that trait might say.  This is when I have students try to identify the character trait.




Two Boys and a Dad Productions




We discuss possible traits, give evidence from the slide...then I reveal the trait.  The slide continues with four synonyms for that character trait.  I teach with this PowerPoint daily and we manage to do about 3 - 4 per day.  I also created accompanying posters that I hang in my room for reference.  From there it is easy to follow up with the day's ELA lesson.

As I mentioned earlier, by using the Greek myths I can not only teach the central message but character traits, problem and solution and well as many other Common Core literature standards.  Some of the Greek myths I use include:



Two Boys and a Dad Productions




Once we've read and understood the myth, I give each student a mini-book that they use to explain the central message.  First I have the students pick the central message from four choices.  I've made the choices somewhat open-ended so that if you chose any particular one, there would be a way to defend the choice.  However, some choices are easier to find evidence for and defend than others.



Two Boys and a Dad Productions




Once a choice is made, on page two, the student then uses text evidence to support the claim.  I've given the student a sentence starter.  I do this because I want them to eventually be able to construct a short response that is well constructed.  Then on the third page, the student just has to copy page two as a short response.  This is a way for students to step by step construct a response. With practice, it becomes a habit.



Two Boys and a Dad Productions



Two Boys and a Dad Productions





On the last page, I ask the students to describe the main character by using traits and text evidence.


Two Boys and a Dad Productions



This next week I continue with teaching with the Greek myths as we learn about the Trojan War.  I like to focus on the characters of Achilles, King Priam, Helen of Troy, and Odysseus.  I've created some printables that I use with my students to have them identify the character traits of each person.


Two Boys and a Dad Productions




I will continue teaching about character traits and the moral of the story when I continue the Folktales Unit with fables.  There are also 10 fables included with the Central Message Puzzle Cards.

If you are searching for resources for CENTRAL MESSAGE, CHARACTER ANALYSIS, AND GREEK MYTHS, follow my Pinterest Boards below.  They have many wonderful resources, ideas, tips, and suggestions for teaching.

CENTRAL MESSAGE

CHARACTER ANALYSIS AND TRAITS

TEACHING WITH GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHS


Two Boys and a Dad Productions



Focus on the Literature Standards with Amazing Folktales



Gerald McDermott Trickster Tales




My class has just started the second trimester in which we focus on the Common Core Literature Standards after having focused on non-fiction and the informational standards in the first trimester.  During this second trimester, we will also focus on writing narratives so that everything is tied in together, both reading and writing.  To teach the literature standards, I use folktales...lots of them.  My favorite author to use is Gerald McDermott.  He has written many Native American folktale stories that are fun to read, easy to work with and can be used in many ways.


Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to a Research Project . . .

Two Boys and a Dad Productions




Teachers know that even the best thought out plans and projects can run into unforeseen problems or situations.  That recently happened to me.  As my class is nearing the end of the science unit on adaptations, I had planned a culminating research project for my third graders.  It was NOT quite turning out like I had planned.  In fact, I was perplexed at how eager they were to start the project compared to how poorly they started the project!   Let's backtrack and review what I had done up to that point!

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

How To Break Down the Distributive Property of Multiplication

break down the distributive property of multiplication



Did you ever think that as a third-grade teacher or even as an elementary teacher you would be teaching the Distributive Property of Multiplication?  When I started teaching over 30 years ago, there weren't even any standards.  Teachers just taught what was in the textbook.  When standards were introduced at the state level in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Distributive Property was still relegated to middle school math for the most part.  But over 3 years ago, California adopted the Common Core State Standards.  And there it is.  Right there.  Yes, I have to teach it.  Most importantly, my students have to learn it and use it.

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

Time to Look at What's Working & Not Working



Two Boys and a Dad Productions





In about 3 weeks, the first trimester is ending so I've decided to examine my classroom, my instruction, and my students to see what's working and not working so far.

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

Is It Just Memorization? Multiplication is more!



Two Boys and a Dad Productions



I have a vivid memory of learning multiplication in third grade.  My teacher, Mrs. Bowman, drew three circles on the chalkboard.  Then she put five milk bottles in each one.  She said this is 3 x 5 which is 15 milk bottles.  That's really all I remember about learning about the concept of multiplication, but for some reason, it stuck!  I also remember using my Pee-Chee folder to look up the multiplication tables for dividing in fourth grade.  I think that is how I memorized them.  But times have changed.


Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

Complete Integration of Research, Writing and Technology



Google Slide Templates



As a teacher in a 1:1 classroom with Chrome Books, I'm always thinking of ways to integrate the use of the Chrome Books throughout the day and throughout the curriculum.  One way they are powerfully integrated is for researching and writing.  In the Common Core State Standards, third graders learn to:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.7
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.A
Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.B
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.C
Use linking words and p
hrases (e.g., alsoanotherandmorebut) to connect ideas within categories of information.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2.D
Provide a concluding statement or section.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.6
With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

Why the Properties of Addition ARE Useful

Why are the properties of Addition Useful?



My oldest son who is in seventh grade recently had trouble with a problem in his 7th-grade math book.  I couldn't believe he didn't know the answer!   It was a very straightforward problem with integers and all it asked was how you could solve the problem using the Commutative Property of Addition.  He couldn't remember what that property was!  And this is 7th grade.

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below

Where in the World is Geography in an Elementary Classroom?

Teaching geography to elementary students is essential.


Does anyone teach Geography anymore?  Why can't students look at a map and recognize the state they live in?  The country they live in?  The continent they live on?  Do they at least recognize the Planet Earth?  Ok, I'm being sarcastic, but geographical knowledge among elementary students is lacking.  But why is geographical knowledge important?  History!  How can you teach or learn about historical events if you don't have some basic geographical knowledge.  Even my seventh-grade son had to review some basic geography on a world map for his History class!

Read the rest by clicking on READ MORE below


Improve Vocabulary and Grammar with Google Sildes

Use Google Slides to teach vocabulary and grammar.



Do you find teaching vocabulary and grammar as something you have to do rather than something you want to do?  There is a definite need to teach both grammar and vocabulary to elementary students, especially those with large English Language Learner populations.  But it doesn't mean it has to be dull, boring, dry, repetitive, exasperating and frustrating.  I started to use Google Slides for the students to take ownership of their learning new vocabulary or grammar.

Read the rest by clicking below on Read More


How I Present Back to School Night With Google Classroom

Two Boys and a Dad Productions



Back to School Night is fast approaching.  This year, I've decided to take a new approach to it.  Since I am in a 1:1 classroom with Chrome Books, I wanted to use the Chrome Books as part of my Back to School Night Presentation to the parents.  So I set up a separate Google Classroom just for parents!  In this Google Classroom, parents will have access to my Back to School Night presentation and other resources.  It will stay there the entire year so parents can access resources and information.  It will also give them a heads up to see how their own children use Google Classroom.

Read the rest by clicking below on Read More

A 'How To' Project to Get Rocking with Google Slides


Two Boys and a Dad Productions


Are your students ready to start creating and learning with Google Slides?  Are they expert keyboarders and know all the ins and outs of Google Slides menus?  If you're like me, I just completed my first full week with my new class of third graders....and no they were not ready!  You kind of forget just how much there is to learn in Google Slides so that your students can work independently on that platform.

But I was prepared to get them up to speed! My team and I decided that we needed a short project that could be completed in about a week that would teach the students the basics of using Google Slides (Here's a link to add the project to YOUR Google Drive).   But wait, they also have to learn to log on...then log on to Google Classroom and then open their assignment!  So there's more than just  learning how to type here.

Read the rest by clicking below on Read More

How to Get Students to Know Each Other with iPortraits

Two Boys and a Dad Productions


It's the beginning of school.  How do you get students to learn about each other?  I use iPortraits!  This activity uses character traits to build a portrait (selfie included!) of each student.  Instead of just learning about their favorite ice cream flavor or food, have the students identify 3 character traits that would describe them.  Then use the traits to write a description of himself for herself for the class.  In this way, students get to know each other deeper and not just on a superficial level.

The Dreaded Classroom Set Up Turns out Fantastic!

Two Boys and a Dad Productions


This school year I began by dreading going back to set up my classroom.  Why? First off,  I needed to change the orientation of my room.  Currently, the "side" of the room was the front of the room. I have 2 white boards, one of which was covered to be a bulletin board and the other used for teaching and was the front of the room.  Essentially, I wanted to switch those boards which meant I had to move all the permanent bulletin boards at the current front of the room (mostly resources we use all year long, such as, a timeline, spelling cards, comprehension strategies, etc.) to the other whiteboard to set that up as the new front of the room.  All those resources had to be taken down carefully, staples removed and stapled back to the other side of the class.

Best Back to School Tips Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Two Boys and a Dad Productions




Can you smell the dry erase markers yet?  Are you hearing phantom bells ringing?  Are you practicing getting up early again?  Yep, it's that time of year again when teachers are preparing to go back to school!  If you need some back to school tips to get you re-energized and ready, then read on. We're a group of teachers, TpT-ers and bloggers who've created this blog hop and giveaway to get you ready!

Read more by clicking below...

The Best Way to Integrate Interactive Digital Notebooks: Part 3

Two Boys and a Dad Productions



My previous posts in this series (Part 1 and Part 2) explained the reasons why I have made the switch to Digital Notebooks because they are colorful, paperless and media rich.  I also gave examples of how Digital Notebooks should have added value for student learning while being connected to content and standards.

In Part 3, I want to give a concrete example of how to incorporate a Digital Notebook into your instruction.....


Interactive Digital Notebooks: Paperless, Colorful and Media Rich Part 2

Two Boys and a Dad Productions


Why make the switch to DIGITAL?  I wrote earlier that some major advantages of a DIGITAL notebook are that it can be COLORFUL (color photographs, color illustrations, color diagrams, color anything!), PAPERLESS (it's all in the cloud), and MEDIA-RICH (hyperlinks to videos, audio, animations and much more!).  Those are very good reasons to make the switch to DIGITAL notebooks! In Part 2, I explain how I use an Interactive DIGITAL Notebook.  Also I am offering a SAMPLER of the newest Interactive Digital Notebook!(see below!)



Interactive Digital Notebooks: Paperless, Colorful, and Media Rich

Two Boys and a Dad Productions



What exactly is an Interactive Digital Notebook? Is it similar to regular Interactive Notebooks? How are they used in the classroom?  What are the advantages over traditional interactive notebooks?  I hope to answer these questions in PART 1 of my 3 part post on Interactive Digital Notebooks.




What Are They?



Two Boys and a Dad Productions


Interactive Digital Notebooks are very similar to traditional Interactive Notebooks.   They can cover the same content, same skills but the difference is that in a traditional Interactive Notebook, a student would be cutting and glueing parts into a notebook.

https://twoboysandadadteacher.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-i-present-back-to-school-night-with.html