I am linking up for Workshop Wednesday with my wonderful BBB, Jivey, at Ideas by Jivey!
Yesterday, I posted some ideas for teaching folktales in my post for Tried it Tuesday here. Since the topic for Workshop Wednesday is using figurative language in writing, I decided to share the the fable writing that my students are working on right now.
Fourth graders have had little experience reading fables and they definitely struggle with understanding the "moral or lesson" that accompanies it. Students often want to write the lesson in specific terms according to the characters in the story. For example, "The moral is the mouse shouldn't go near the cat." It is difficult for them to see the "big picture". We read many fables together in class and discussed the morals. I also had them explore this website of Aesop's fables and morals listed.
To start the fable writing project, I gave each student a packet with some fables photocopied. We read two of the fables together. I like to have students underline awesome adjectives or vivid verbs as we read the fables together. This forces them to really notice the language being used so that they will (hopefully) later try to model that in their writing. Here are two student samples (sorry, they underlined in pencil and it is a little difficult to see).
Next, students had to think of a moral for their fable and complete an outline of ideas. We discussed how fables use animals that are personified (figurative language) and that the animals were usually just referred to as "Turtle" and not given "names". One year I made the mistake of not discussing this and students had a blast coming up with names like Tommy the Turtle, etc. but it was too confusing and didn't really represent the fable style. Students were also encouraged to stick to two main characters. We worked on the outlines during class and students took them home to write their rough drafts.
Their rough drafts were pretty "rough" but the reading teacher who pushes in for 30 minutes of each block helped me conference with each student about their fable. We tried to give them suggestions for improvement without totally squashing their creativity. So many students just write and write without thinking about relating it to the moral at the end.
Breaking their writing into paragraphs and dialogue has also been a struggle but they are getting better! I was also pleased to notice that many students are trying to incorporate those vivid verbs and adjectives.:)
The students' illustrations were due today and we are spending part of class time typing their fables in the computer lab. They are so excited!
Check out my fables pack here!
Be sure to check out the other link ups for using figurative language in writing at Ideas by Jivey!