Story Spin-Offs

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the inspiration for a lesson on story telling. The well known first line, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern… hooks the reader by creating a sense place (kitchen), character (daughter/mother/father), time (breakfast), and action (what’s Papa going to do?).

Story telling is suggested as the last lesson in this lesson series related to Charlotte’s Web, because children will have processed characters and events in various different ways. These activities enrich their understanding of character types and event development that make stories rich.

Grade: 5, ELA (English Language Arts)

Lesson 1: To familiarize children with story telling process, it helps to review key points about speaking in front of others. Students will appreciate this as an opportunity to face theirs fears and learn how to prepare themselves to go ahead. Post and discuss the following:

When Speaking Out Loud…

  • slow down
  • relax and remember to breath
  • go slowly over the phrases you like best
  • take pauses—these allow the audience to absorb what you are saying

If you’re nervous, look up at the wall over peoples heads

Place your finger where you are reading

Let your hands move if they naturally want to

If you’re going to a reading—mark up your reading copy

Acknowledge fear of public speaking….

Provide a selection of short stories for students to choose from. Ask them to pair up and take 10 minutes to read the stories out loud to each other. Then, ask them to work together to alter or merge the stories in some way by a change of events or characters. Give 10 minutes to rewrite the story and take turns presenting new versions to the whole class.

Homework: Write 1 page (max) fiction story inspired by one of the Charlotte’s Web characters. Incorporate literary conflict (man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, man vs. self). Discuss these to support student understanding of concepts of literary conflict.

Lesson 2: This is an opportunity for students to write and tell their own stories. Give 15 minutes review writing. Rather than read directly from their creative compositions, students may prepare to tell the story out loud by:

  • creating a visual story board
  • practicing in pairs or small groups

Final class time will be for story telling. Audience reminders for courteous listening skills.

Time: (2) 45 minute class times

Assessment: This tables good samples of assessment charts that provide clear feedback for students. The five key points covered: voice, body language, audience engagement, characters, and pacing can be shown to students to consider these before their presentations.

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