The Tortoise and the Hare, Puppetry & Book Talks

Happy Family Day weekend! I hope you enjoy some special time together. Today students are bringing home a permission form for our puppet making and sewing unit. As well, they have completed a “figurative language” quiz and letter assignment to share with you.

Now, here is a recap our action-packed day, along with the details of the fun storytelling homework and an upcoming “Book Talk” assignment.

Today we had dramatic fun as I modelled some storytelling skills using puppets. I read Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare” aloud and then retold it in my own words in a theatrical way. I emphasized for students skills for vocal projection and dynamic expression, and showed how to create unique voices for characters. My goal was to infuse humour and playfulness when animating the puppets so as to underscore the message of the tale. Storytelling is most effective when it is engaging for the audience!

HOMEWORK: I have asked students to each retell the “Tortoise and the Hare” in their own fun way to someone in their family this weekend. They can change story elements or even alter characters (like maybe it’s about a slug and a cheetah); however, students should still follow the narrative arc: (1.) a slow character and a fast character compete in a race; (2.) the slow character beats the the fast one because the latter is prideful and thinks he’s so fast that he can afford to take nap during the race; and finally, (3.) the slow character wins because “slow and steady wins the race.”

Today students also practiced the R.A.C.E. strategy as a way to add structure and support to their reading responses—but more on that in next week’s posts as it deserves some time to explain.

A big focus of the day for students was preparing to present a “Book Talk”. I first presented on purpose a few TERRIBLE examples of Book Talks on the books “James and the Giant Peach” and “White Fang”. I invited students to identify my mistakes and areas for improvement. From their observations, we brainstormed some criteria for an EXCELLENT Book Talk and read a comic about the same topic.

In the afternoon, I gave students a Book Talk Assessment description and sample template they could use to organize their presentations. We will be working with the template again next Tuesday to make sure students are clear on what is expected. Then we had library time, and I urged students to choose a great novel that they are happy to recommend and that they have read within the last two months (or will have finished reading by next week).

The purpose of this assignment is to challenge students to (a.) strengthen their public speaking skills, (b.) practice writing an interesting and logically organized presentation, (c.) showcase their skills of summarizing and reflecting upon their reading, (d.) inspire others to want to read their books, and (e.) promote literacy to contribute to our culture of learning.

Students will sign up for presentation slots that start next Thursday, Feb. 24 and run through until March 6th. Alternatively, students may create a video of their Book Talk and email a link or file of it to me before March 6th.

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