Monday, April 14, 2014

Cinderella Unit - The Publishing!

[Spring Break has officially started! Woohoo! Heading out to Vegas tomorrow so I thought I'd better wrap up my posts about my Cinderella unit before I go. :) ] 

With all the research and planning done, it was time to make the final drafts of our Cinderella stories!

(If you are just visiting, it would be a good idea to read the previous posts to learn about the research we did and the planning that lead to the publishing of these stories.)

Before I begin, I want to mention a project I do with my kids every year. During my first year of teaching, I discovered Studentreasures, a publishing company that takes student work and publishes it into a hardcover book FOR FREE. (yep, free!) I decided to try it out and was super happy with the results (the parents were too). This is a perfect keepsake and a great gift for family members. Since then, I decided that I was going to publish a book with my kiddos every year. Studentreasures publishes class books and individual student books (individual books have a small fee). Visit an old post of mine to see the class books we published during my last two years in first grade.

So, back to Cinderella. Being in second grade this year, I wanted to do something more advanced writing for our published book. This Cinderella unit was perfect for that. I decided I would collect everyone's stories and make a class book of Cinderella stories! Each kid would get one page for their story and one page for illustration. Since technology is becoming a new emphasis with Common Core, the kids would type up their stories so that it would fit on one page. Perfect idea, right? :D

With the planning all done, I had the students rewrite their stories on a clean sheet of paper so that it's easier for them to use as a reference when typing. Our district recently assigned every student a Google account so the timing was perfect. I did a brief lesson with the students on Google Drive and Google Documents while in the computer lab and everyone created a document for their Cinderella stories and shared them with me. This way, I could always keep track each student's progress with typing their story. 

In addition from our weekly Computer lab time, I also borrowed the Chromebooks from the computer lab on the days our computer teacher was not at school. The class all spent the next three Writer's Workshop sessions typing their stories on the Chromebooks. Some time was also spent at home typing too (as part of homework).

Also made sure to utilize the classroom computers for typing too!

Once the typing was done, I gave the kids another mini-lesson on using and selecting fonts in Google Documents. I gave the kids some time to choose the fonts that they wanted to use in their stories just to give each story a more unique look and allow the students to have more ownership of their stories. 

With the stories officially done, it was time to make the illustrations!
Some chose to refer back to their character and setting sketches in their story planners to help them get started...

....while others just went for it!

Studentreasures asks that illustrations be done in marker so that was exciting for the students since we don't often use markers in the classroom (I prefer colored pencils and crayons).

Once all the illustrations were done, it was the teacher's time to work! I printed out everyone's stories on the pages provided in our publishing kit. I also scanned the illustrations and printed them out on the publishing pages too. The reason I did was because I requested our publishing kit late and didn't want to wait for it to arrive to make our illustrations. Some students were able to draw directly on the publishing page itself. However, this experience, I actually prefer scanning and printing. When kids draw directly on the page, there are many chances of smearing (especially with marker) and also accidentally marking the other side of the paper which has someone else's story printed on it. Either way, the final product looked great!

Illustration draw directly on the page.
Illustration scanned and printed on the page.
Of course, our book wasn't complete yet!

We still have the title page..

...dedication page...

...and most importantly, the cover!

The kids all contributed to the cover. They each drew a picture of the lost article in their story. Cute huh? We were originally going to draw small Cinderellas but I think the lost articles actually look better!

Shipping our publishing kit back to the company tomorrow. Can't wait to see it come back as a hardcover book! I do a big celebration when the books arrive but I can't share that until it happens! Guess you'll have to wait another 2-3 weeks to find out how we celebrate! xP

And this concludes the three post long recap of our Cinderella unit! Phew! Thanks to all of you who stuck with it and read all three posts! I hope I can share more stuff that happens in the classroom in more details in the future too! :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cinderella Unit - The Story Planning

[So trying to wrap up the week before Spring Break got in the way of finishing this post! Oops!]

Alright, on to part two!!! Cinderella story planning!!

(If you are just visiting, it might be helpful to visit my previous post to learn about all the research we did to get ourselves ready for this step.)

So now that everyone has read at least seven or eight versions of Cinderella, the students had a pretty good grasp of what a typical Cinderella storyline compromises of. With all that in mind, it was time to start planning our own Cinderella stories!

To get the kids started with their planning, I made a story planner book for them to put all their ideas in.

The book itself consisted of some pages I pulled from The Sweetest Things's 3 Week ELA Unit: Cinderella Around the World. Those pages included some character trait worksheets for the big characters in Cinderella. 

However, instead of having the students fill this out for the characters in the original story, I told them to use these pages as planning for their characters in their cinderella story. So what you see above is one students' thoughts about he/she wanted his/her Cinderella character to be like. They did the same for the evil character, the royalty, and the magical helper. I tried to use more generic terms to encourage the students to be more creative and not necessarily stick with a evil stepmom, a prince, and a fairy godmother.

After brainstorming ideas for each character, the next page was for sketching their characters. Many of the students wanted to describe the appearance of their characters so this was the perfect venue for that. They also had to sketch the setting of their story too.

There are a couple of other pages in the book that aren't displayed. The two not displayed were worksheets about point of view and role reversal (what if Cinderella was a Cinder Fella?). 

The point of view worksheet gave me the opportunity to do a lesson on point of view with the kids. They were told they could decide which point of view to write their story in. Of course, everyone did it in third person omniscient, which is expected. :)

The boys were especially happy with the role reversal worksheet since they realized they didn't have to make Cinderella a girl. In fact, once I mentioned that Cinderella doesn't even have to be a human, that really got the kids excited. In the end, I think at least half of my class made their Cinderella an animal (cats were very popular).

The first half the the planning book consisted of more directed planning. Once we reach the halfway point, there was less direction and more freedom with the planning. I provided a list of questions gathered from some other Cinderella/fairy tale related resources to get the kids thinking about ideas for their stories. Blank lined paper was given after this list for the kids to jot their ideas down on.

As you can see, some kids really went crazy with ideas.

Once all the ideas had jotted down, it was FINALLY time to start mapping out the story. But of course, we had to first talk about the elements of a story and the story arc.

Before telling the kids about the story arc, I had them first fill out a basic story map that they were familiar with (we used it during our fiction story writing in the beginning of the year). This at least helped them break their story down into three parts. 

Then, we talked about the story arc

I also found a great bulletin board set on literary elements that used Cinderella as its example. It was super helpful with all this planning, especially when talking about the story arc. 

Once we talked about that in detail, the kids filled out their own story arc map...

...and off they went! They were told that the expectation was to write a five paragraph story (one of the paragraphs being a descriptive paragraph that describes one of the characters). I broke down each paragraph for them to give them somewhat a guideline to follow.

With all that said, the kids were let loose to start their writing. We had been practicing writing informational paragraphs prior to this, so I simply used the same paragraph graphic organizers for their story planning.

Every time they finished a paragraph, they were required to go back and revise and check with a correcting pen (blue ink). During Writer's Workshop time, I would also go around and conference with students and add my own comments too (in pink). It's nearly impossible to get through all 26 student during 50 minute periods so I would also take the planners home to read so that everyone would get timely feedback.

Just had to show just how into the planning some kids got. Once the entire planning was done, I had many students with paragraph planners that looked like this, which I honestly think is great! It shows they are really thinking about their story and looking to see how they can make it better.

By the way, I do have to mention that this whole planning process took around 1.5 weeks so it was definitely not done in a short amount of time. Some students also had to take their planners home to finish planning so that they would stay on schedule.

And another long post has been completed. However, we are still not done with the Cinderella stories yet! This is only the rough draft! Guess you'll have to come back another day to read part three. :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five for Friday

Holy moly (my new term now), how did I even manage to get through this week???
At least the good thing is....IT'S FINALLY SPRING BREAK!!!
Well, I don't feel like I'm officially on break yet since I still have some other things to do and get ready for. But come next Tuesday, I will be on a plane to Vegas with the boyfriend and Spring Break will officially begin! Can't wait! :D

By the way, I am exhausted. (Surprised I even have the energy to write this post!) 
No long explanations this time. Just a sentence and pictures. 

Practicing reading time with a scoot activity!

Drawing illustrations for our Cinderella stories. 
(Read more about this in a previous post.)

Some of our mealworms are turning into pupas so it was time draw a diagram in our observation books.

Started our Native American unit this week and brought in some dreamcatchers to hang in the classroom.

Glazing the clay coil pot/bowls we made two weeks ago!

Thanks for visiting!
Come back tomorrow learn more about the story planning we did for our Cinderella unit. But make sure to read about the research we did first!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cinderella Unit - The Research

So it's time for a non-Five for Friday post! Woohoo! I also have a feeling this is going to be divided into two parts since it is quite long... [edit: actually, three now!]

We are in the midst of wrapping up our Cinderella Unit, which started at the beginning of March. This was my first time tackling Cinderella, and I'm actually quite proud of myself for what was accomplished!

Did you know that there are like a bajillion (yes, that is a number in my world!) versions of the Cinderella story out there??? I had no idea!! I had also read somewhere that there is no original version of Cinderella. The Cinderella stories from each culture were not spin-offs or revisions of a particular version, they were actually created by that culture itself! (Hope that made sense.) Not sure if that's really true or not but still pretty cool! The fractured versions don't count, of course.

Anyways, I gathered around 18 versions of Cinderella, including some fractured versions. I put some of the books on display for free reading and kept 13 of them to use in our rotation. 

I told the kids that they were going to "travel the world" and read different Cinderella stories from different cultures and countries. But they weren't just reading for fun. They are actually researching these stories because when they are done, the will be writing their own version!

I created a workbook using a combination of the following two resources from TpT:

The kids worked in pairs (with their desk partners) on their "research". Every day they would get one Cinderella story to read. While they were reading they would fill out the story elements page for their story.

They would also fill out the corresponding passport and note down some cultural differences. I printed out a sheet with all the flags on it and put it on display using our document camera so that the kids had access to the flags.

When they were done reading the book, they worked together to complete the compare and contrast chart at the back of their workbook. 

This activity took around 2.5 weeks since we had 13 books to go through, but the students were all very engaged!

After our research was done, it was time to start thinking about our own Cinderella stories! Click here to read part two, story planning!