Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cut off your toe

Yesterday and today I read the students the Grimm Brothers' version of Cinderella, which has the same basic elements, but some noticeable differences:

--Cinderella still doesn't say much, but at least she's clever, outwitting the dumb males who try to track her down.

--The prince puts tar on the steps to catch her. Other than that, he's a little dim. See below.

--There's no fairy godmother; instead, a little white bird flies to the hazel tree over her mother's grave (which she watered with her very tears!) and tosses down whatever she wishes.

--Lots of violence! It comes in at the end, when the kids are good and entranced (reading aloud is like hypnosis, it's amazing). The evil stepmother tells each of her daughters in turn to cut off part of their foot in order to fit into the golden slipper. They go out with the shoe on, and the prince rides away with each as his bride. Um, hello? Little birdies have to sing to him that since the girls' feet are bleeding, he doesn't have the right daughter. Durr.

Then, at the end, Cindy's bird friends peck both eyes from the evil stepsisters, to punish them for their wickedness and malice.

The kids get all grossed out and they LOVE it. And I love it too.

Anyway, so I put a lot of stuff together with the reading of this story. First, note-taking during a listening selection. Since they're familiar with the Disneyfied version of this story, they also complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two versions.

I also prepared a chart about graphic organizer questions, and then gave eight of those questions. They could use their notes to answer them. I went around the room and actually marked on their papers if students got correct, partial, or incorrect. That way they could figure out what they did wrong, and hopefully fix it for next time.

THEN, I'm having them build a compare/contrast essay. First though, is the four square, which I'm finally trying to really teach. I've already had them use the basic format and shape to help organize their ideas, which should in theory ease the transition.

Wow, a lot of stuff. But I'm really proud of myself for incorporating test skills into the regular things I'm teaching. Yay me! I just hope that the kids get it and transfer it to the day of the test.

At common planning someone brought that up, that the kids DON'T transfer the skills and strategies. I suggested keeping a list in their notebooks, and frequently adding to it and reviewing it so that it sticks more in their heads.

Tomorrow I am going back to verbs one last time, but with the grammar book. I'm doing too much with them, and getting too complicated. If I stay with the exercises in the book, they seem to get that. I need to reinforce the things we already covered, and do auxiliary verbs and linking verbs too.

Next week I'm going to start assigning homework to drill and study notes and grammar and spelling and vocabulary. Got to keep it simple so that ALL the students really learn and understand everything.

Next week I hope to start adjectives, but apparently Monday will be interrupted a lot and so will Friday, for the first school assessment. And I need to cover short responses and more myths and plot structure and...

I got a definitive answer about this month's project: compare and contrast essay, using myths and/or stories. So we are NOT actually doing a story-writing unit. This relieves me, because A) a short story unit takes at LEAST eight weeks, and B) there's no way I can figure out to combine studying myths and writing them, AND studying and writing fiction stories.

Oh, that reminds me, I need to do a follow-up refresher lesson/activity about genre. The kids are still clueless about that. I devised a fun test, but maybe I should do it as a group activity first. Hm, that could be fun.

Oh! Something else that I found today. You may remember that I like to read Echo and Narcissus, if nothing else for vocabulary (narcissism and shun, primarily). I've been pushing that back for three days already, and will possibly push it back again to next week. Anyway, I finally cracked open one of the books I bought this summer. It cost five bucks and contains one hundred ten-minute read aloud selections. Whole bunches of the book are myths, fables, and folktales! Whee!

I turned to the myth section and found one on Apollo and Daphne, where Cupid shoots them with opposite arrows and one gets shunned. So I'm totally going to have the kids read and compare/contrast Echo & Narcissus with Apollo & Daphne. Cool! This will improve their knowledge of botany, as Narcissus turns into the narcissus flower and Daphne turns into a laurel tree.

I'm excited about this, though I don't know how well the kids will be able to compare two different stories. Since we started with two versions of the same story, then this is scaffolded instruction. Look at that!

See? I'm a good teacher. So there. :p


ms. frizzle said...

My favorite myth was always Orpheus and Eurydice.

Do you have D'Aulaires book of Greek Mythology? I LOVED that book as a child. I read it so many times I knew greek mythology inside and out!

Arlyss said...

You must be a middle school teacher, though I'm not sure. When I read about the Grimm brothers' original version of Cinderella, and how your students were "grossed out and loving it" I was thinking, "My fifth graders would LOVE this." I'm a general music teacher in a Reading First school, and I'm continually trying to find ways to connect the arts with the core curriculum. I am considering perhaps a video of a ballet based on a fairy tale (opera is a bit long, and, IMO, there's not enough movement), and THEN read the original version to them.

Great idea to contrast with Disney. I am so sick of Disney monopolizing the fairy tale genre onscreen, I'm about to suggest a parent/teacher boycott.

Anonymous said...

You do sound like a great teacher. I'd have loved to have been in your classroom.