Introduce the students to Washington Irving by giving them some brief background information on the author. (If the students have already completed the Author Fast Fact Sheet on Irving, they can give you the information.) Ask the students to name what stories, if any, of Irving's that they are familiar with. Most will have heard only of Rip Van Winkle and Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Explain that they will be reading Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Most of them will have seen one of the many interpretations or versions of the story. You could have them list the characters and plot elements they remember from the version they saw.
Write the word legend on the overhead or board and ask the students to provide a definition of the term. The definition should include some of the following: a fictional story that is part of a particular culture, handed down from generation to generation. The story will include information about the culture, the region in which the culture developed, and information about the past. Explain to the students that they will be looking at the story as an example of a legend that someone recorded.
In addition to looking for elements of the story that fit the characteristics of a legend, the students will also be looking for words or phrases that contribute to the mood or atmosphere of the story. Have the students read aloud or listen to a version of story. If they are following along in a text, they can use pencil or sticky notes to mark words that contribute to the mood or elements that fit the criteria of a legend. After reading the story, discuss with the students the words and phrases that contributed to the mood. Make a class list of the elements that make this story a legend.
Divide the students into groups of 2 or 3. Have the students complete a plot chart. Ask the students to make a list of unfamiliar words as they are working on the graphic organizer. Allow then time to work on this. Discuss the graphic organizer with the students. Make a class list of the unfamiliar words to use as vocabulary words. (examples: coquette, brawny, bemused, dowry, inclusion, prevalent, lassitude) Take a few minutes to discuss the unfamiliar words.
Step: 5 Duration: homework and 60 minutes
Explain to the students that they will be creating front page newspapers for each of the sections of the graphic organizer. The newspaper is called The Sleepy Hollow Gazette. For each of their front pages of the Gazette, the student groups are to create stories that detail the events that occurred. One front page will be for the events that occurred during the exposition; one front page will be for the events that occurred during the rising action; and so on. Remind the students to use details from the story to help make their articles interesting and believable. The students may create these newspapers on chart paper, posterboard, or a computer program such as Publisher or Publish It. Encourage the students to use the vocabulary words in their articles.