Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fractured Fairy Favorite Unit EVER!!

**UPDATE: I'm working hard to make more pieces of this unit available. In the meantime, enjoy my favorite unit and one of love2learn2day's most popular posts!

Over the next 3 months, I will be teaching my FAVORITE UNIT EVER!!!  I first wrote and taught this unit back in the days before internet...before Common Core...before man discovered fire...

Just kidding. About the discovery of fire. But close.

Anyway, I'd like to share the unit as it unfolds.  I am teaching a group of 4th-6th graders in a 3 hour block, once a week. I originally taught the unit in 6th-8th grade language arts. The unit can be comfortably modified up or down to fit grades 3-8 in a classroom or homeschool setting.

Session 1
Focus: What Every Good Story Must Include/Parts of a Story

As students enter, I ask them to list every fairy tale title they can name.

Getting to Know You: Fairy Tales
We begin with a quick introduction in which students say their name, followed by their favorite fairy tale. They then repeat all the previous names/favorite tales in the class. This becomes a quick assessment tool as students offer up titles that are not actually fairy tales. In my class, one child named a book and said that the title is a fairy tale because it is fiction. I do not correct students as we will be learning more about what makes a fairy tale in the coming weeks.

Round Robin Fairy Telling
As a class, we retell the story of the Three Little Pigs, popcorn-style. I start the story and keep it going, randomly pointing to a student to have him/her fill in parts. I want them to recognize how much they DO already know. Later in the morning I can use this as an example for certain words/topics..."do you remember the DIALOGUE in the Three Little Pigs," etc.
What Makes a Good Story?
Next, a read aloud: Show Me a Story: Writing Your Own Picture Book. Here, we talk about the tools that authors use to create good stories.

Fairy Tale Bibliography
I hand out a blank bibliography so students can add each book that we read. We will be doing a LOT of fairy tale reading, and I want them to use this as a reference.

This sheet is now available here!
Parts of a Story
I read aloud a traditional Red Riding Hood tale. Then, together, we list fairy tale events and plot them on an excitement scale to show rising action, climax/turning point, and falling action. We talk about how these elements are in every good story...and how the stories that they write will also include these elements. I follow with a reading of  Ruby by Michael Emberley. This is a "fractured" version of Red Riding Hood. We track events and plot an excitement scale again, showing that even as the story changes, the general shape of the excitement scale remains the same.
A big portion of this unit includes drama. Today we did an introductory pantomime activity from Theatre Games for Young Performers.

First, I read a traditional Cinderella Story. Together, we build a chart to look at various elements of the story. I record on the bulletin board as students record on their own individual charts. Then, I give each student a "fractured" version or a version from another culture to read. They each add this book to their own charts, then present what they discover so that we can add to the class chart (and individual charts.)

It is eye opening to discover just how many versions of Cinderella there are...and how the elements stay consistent throughout the tales. It's those consistent elements that make fairy tales what they we're beginning to uncover how fairy tales differ from other types of fiction.

Think Sheets are now available here!
Writing Assignment: Fractured Fairy Tales

We'll be doing a lot of writing this term. To kick off the year, I read the traditional Three Little Pigs, then ask each student to use a  "Fractured Fairy Tale Think Sheet" to brainstorm how they might fracture the story. I suggest that they change one or two elements of the story--perhaps the setting, character, point-of-view of the story, etc...  But not all elements. Just a few changes allow students to start experimenting with fairy tale writing. I also mention a few additional guidelines. Their stories will likely include:
  • 3 little somethings
  • a "big bad" something
  • 3 "houses" of some type
  • dialogue between little somethings and big bad somethings
  • the phrase, "Once Upon a Time"
Before class begins next week, students will complete their own fractured fairy tales. Next week, we'll meet in authors' circles to revise our writing.

For additional support, students might also use this site from ReadWriteThink.

Fairy Tale Notebooks
We're compiling all our work into 3-ring binders with page protectors. At the conclusion of the unit, the page protectors will be taken out of the binders and made into permanent reference books.

Once Upon a Time there was a teacher who LOVED teaching fractured fairy tales...

Read more about our adventures here and here. And now you can also read about writing and producing the play portion, here.


I am gradually adding items from this fairytale unit to TPT. Currently available:

Fairy Tale, Folktale Characteristics Poster

Short Story: Plot Diagram for Fairy Tales and More!

Character Studies: Folk, Fairy Tale, and Short Stories

Fairy Tale Think Sheets: Story Analysis & Pre-Writing Organizer (New! 4/29/17)

Fairy Tale Maps: Exploring Setting(New! 5/5/17)

Fairy Tale Bibliography Record Sheets(New! 5/12/17)

Fairy Tale Character Wanted Posters(New! 5/17/17)

Folk & Fairy Tale Compare & Contrast Story Chart(New! 5/19/17)

The entire collection is also available in a bundle:
Folk, Fairy Tale, & Short Story Series Bundle (Now complete! Over 100 pages!)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Averaging with Unifix Cubes

Unifix cubes are one of my favorite math manipulatives. I especially love to use them when averaging.

In the "old days," when I was an elementary student, I was told that to average, you add up all the numbers and divide by the number of groups to get the average. Not surprisingly,



I first used unifix cubes to average when I taught "Measurement with Marbles," one of my FAVORITE math units that's now FREE from the Math Learning Center. I hope you enjoy that unit and my little videos on Averaging with Unifix Cubes.

Note: Due to video time limitations I could not show multiple ways to level the towers. When you work with children, however, I encourage you to help kids understand the idea of averaging by giving them 2 stacks, and then 3 stacks of cubes, and asking them to devise methods to level the towers. If we just TELL them what to do rather than allowing them to devise their own strategies, we're really just giving them a different version of my childhood experience (where I had no idea WHY I was doing what I was doing.) Give them some cubes and a little time for productive struggle! :)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Group Fraction Activity for Warm-Ups, Transitions, or Anytime!

As a math coach I'm able to see a lot of teachers and students in action. On a recent visit to a third grade classroom, I saw a fantastic activity that I can't wait to share! (Homeschool adaptations included below.)

In this particular class, student desks were configured in groups of 4 or 5. As students arrived at their desks in the morning, they immediately began working on a group task: "What fraction of your group are boys? What fraction are girls?" In the early stages of the activity, before everyone arrived, a group might have results like 1/3 girls and 2/3 boys. But as more students arrived, the results changed. A group might then have 2/5 boys and 3/5 girls. But the group next to them might have 1/4 girls and 3/4 boys. The answer entirely depended on when kids arrived and who was in attendance.

When the starting bell rang, the teacher focused the class and began asking groups to share. Each group shared the fraction of boys/girls in each group. As she questioned individual groups, she stopped and asked students to consider how one group compared to another. If one group had 2/5 girls and another had 3/5 girls, which group had a greater fraction of girls?

The activity also lent itself to thinking about fraction addition or subtraction. If a group had 2 boys and 3 girls, then:

2/5 + 3/5 = 5/5 = 1 (whole group)
5/5 of a group - 2/5 boys = 3/5 girls.

Students could also consider equivalent fractions. "If a group has 2/4 boys and 2/4 girls, is there another way we can think about the fraction of boys and girls?" (1/2 boys and 1/2 girls.)

This is a wonderful, quick activity that helps students to figure parts of a group with fractions. As they consider the answer, they're continually thinking about which number is used in the numerator and which is used in the denominator and why.

After observing the activity, I made a set of 75+ Math Task Cards that could be used with small groups (3-6), medium groups (6-12) or large groups (12-entire class.) Many cards encourage students to consider questions that help them to know one another better. Depending on teacher emphasis, the cards could be used in grades 3, 4, or 5.

If you are interested in the Task Cards, they are available on TPT as a new product at an introductory sale (deep discount!) price.

If you use this activity--with or without the Task Cards--I'd love to hear about your experience!

p.s. Homeschoolers could make up a similar activity with items around the house: "What fraction of my stuffed animals include animals with teeth? No teeth?"  Years ago I gathered Teeny Beanie Babies just for the purpose of sorting and fraction activities like this.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blogging tips