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. :)

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