Friday, October 11, 2013

Story Elements

Last week we were working on story elements. Now of course we talk about these things with ALL of our stories that we read, but this week was spent really focusing only on Character, Setting, Problem, and Solution. So I started thinking about what things I could do that my kids would be engaged in, all doing something similar, have choice, AND differentiate. Yep, you read that right... I wanted to get that ALL into one lesson. And I think I successfully did. We started using this freebie I found on TpT from Jessica. We used the question cards that fit with our week and made an anchor chart about Tops and Bottoms (that was our story last week). 

We are also working on speaking and writing in complete sentences so while we were figuring out the story elements to Tops and Bottoms I made students respond in complete sentences and I wrote what they said. The next thing we did was split into groups. Each group was able to choose which story they wanted to work on next. Three of my four groups picked Prudy's Problem (I don't blame them...I LOVE that story). I had one group that all but one child wanted to do Prudy...that one boy wanted to do Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. The rest of the boys in the group agreed to switch so that he didn't have to work alone (LOVE my kids and how they work together). What my students didn't know is that I had them in differentiated groups. There was one boy who wanted to join the other boys with Alexander. Reading level wise- he wasn't in that group, but he is close and I figured I should push him and I let him join. Students went to lunch and I got chart paper ready for each group. When they came back they were so excited to get started. 

Each group opened up their books to their stories and got to working. Now I am sure some people might be thinking, ok, you have them in leveled groups but they are all doing the same thing... how is that differentiated? Here is how I did it. My high group was not given ANY slack. I expected amazing sentences with proper capitalization and punctuation and a well written summary. My intervention group worked with me where I scaffolded instruction to work at their pace and level. Each student in my group got a chance to write and while they were answering and writing we were talking about how to give me answers in complete sentences, capital letters, punctuation, and spelling sounds. This group was VERY capable of giving me the correct answers, but the writing and sentences structure was our goal together.

Once everyone was finished, we hung up their posters and each group got a chance to share. I told them that every person in the group HAD to speak. Even my little ELL girl who is afraid to speak because she doesn't speak English had to say SOMETHING. I worked with her getting her to say "The title of our story is Prudy's Problem" and everyone was proud of her. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my class community?! They clap, cheer, etc for each other ALL THE TIME!)

With three groups out of four working on Prudy's Problem, we had a lot of similarities. We talked about WHY the answers were the same and how some things could be slightly different even though they were talking about the same story (ie more than one problem or interpretatin of the problem).

This was the first time they did any kind of group presentation and I realized a few things. 1. They LOVED it. 2. It meets speaking and listening standards of common core as well as our literature standards. 3. We need to work on using a teacher voice and facing the audience when we speak. Overall, I thought it was a good lesson and my kids were truly engaged for every single minute!


  1. This sounds great! I'm totally stealing this idea and using it soon :)

  2. Love this!!!!!! Going to incorporate this lesson next week.

  3. I think this is an awesome idea....going to figure out a way to do it with their guided reading books. They are leveled and mini books so we can read those one or two days then do this lesson...whatcha think? Thanks for the awesome idea!

    1. That would definitely work! We just did it with stories that we have read as a class but I like the idea of using their guided reading books too!


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