Unit Title: Short Stories/ Storytelling

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Unit Title: Short Stories/ Storytelling

Delaware ELA Curriculum Unit Template
Preface: Your peers have designed all units. Please thank them for their time and contribution.
Each unit is at a different stage of development. Some need revision on the transfer task options. Others need additional lesson ideas to helps students to reach the standards. Some other units need to have the focus changed from specific story to the more general skills and strategies.
Stage one is complete for all units and should be the focus of the work with students. Use the remainder of the unit as a guide to help you plan for your particular students. Please share lesson and assessment ideas with each other. Content Chairpersons should bring ideas to the content chair meetings each month so that the units can be enhanced for next year.
Thank you to those who have taken the risk and offered their ideas for each unit.
Jodi Forestieri, Instructional Coach ELA Middle School
Subject/Topic Area: Short Stories / Storytelling

Grade Level(s): 6th Grade
Searchable Key Words: Comparison, contrast, group discussion, folktales, fairy tales, myths, legends, fables, folklore, oral tradition, culture, character, setting, plot, conflict, exposition, rising action, climax/turning point, falling action, resolution, point of view, connections, narrator, point of view, theme, author’s purpose, prediction, visualization, summarize, clarify, question, evaluate, point of view, inference, narrator, and story elements, audience, descriptive details, oral communication, physicalization, voice, eye contact, preparation rubric, presentation rubric

Designed By: Jodi Forestieri, Holly Jones, Kelly Young

District: Christina School District

Time Frame: 5-6 weeks
Reviewed by: Date:

Brief Summary of Unit (This should include a brief unit summary including a description of unit goals, rationale for the approach taken, and where it appears in the course of study.)
In this unit students will study short stories with an emphasis on the oral tradition. Students will identify the plot structure and story elements that are common to short stories. Students will also explore the variety of folklore in the oral tradition. Students will compare and contrast stories from various cultures. Using folklore as a vehicle, students will learn skills necessary for group discussion that will be used during the remainder of the school year. Also the background knowledge is being provided for students as they move into the next section about storytelling.
Students are being prepared in 6th grade to use story in all of their writing throughout middle school. Storytelling and writing from the verbal telling helps students to increase their attention to the audience and descriptive details. In this unit, students will begin their use of story by crafting their own telling of a contemporary picture book or traditional tale for two different audiences and crafting a personal story about a friend or family member.

Stage 1: Desired Results

(Determine What Students Will Know, Do and Understand)

Delaware ELA Content Standards (This should include a list of the DE Content Standards for which instruction is provided in this unit and which are ultimately assessed in the unit.)

The item or lessons is assessed by:

OE = Other Evidence

TT = Transfer Tasks
1.1 Writers will produce texts that exhibit the following text features, all of which are consistent with the genre and purpose of the writing: development, organization, style, and word choice. (Expressive)
1.3 Writers will produce examples that illustrate the following discourse classifications: by the completion of the grade, writers will be able to write...and expressive pieces. (Expressive)
1.4 Orally communicate information, opinions, and ideas effectively to different audiences for a variety of purposes.

  • Choose words and use voice appropriate to audience and purpose (e.g., inform, persuade, entertain)

  • Speak and listen for a variety of audiences (e.g., classroom, real-life) and purposes (e.g., awareness, enjoyment, information, problem solving)

  • Identify and discuss criteria for effective oral presentations (e.g., eye contact, projection, tone, volume, rate, articulation)

  • Present autobiographical or fictional stories that recount events effectively to large and small audiences

1.5 Listen to and comprehend oral communications. (OE)

  • Follow basic directions

  • Ask and respond to questions from teachers and other group member

  • Retell stories and reports of events in proper sequence

  • Distinguish fact from fantasy and fact from opinion

1.7 Participate effectively in a discussion. (TT)

  • Follow rules for conversation
  • Participate in a variety of roles in group discussions (e.g., active listener, contributor, discussion leader)

  • Use appropriate voice level in group settings

  • Ask and respond to questions in group settings

  • Use appropriate eye contact and other nonverbal cues

2.1 Using appropriate texts, students will be able to select and apply efficient, effective decoding skills and other word recognition strategies to comprehend printed texts. (OE)

  • Vocabulary - Identify and use the meanings of high frequency Greek and Latin derived roots and affixes to determine the meaning of unknown words (e.g., bio, derm, anti, graph, tele)

  • Fluency - Read orally from familiar text at an appropriate rate, with accuracy and prosody

2.2a Students will be able to develop an increasingly extensive vocabulary and actively seek the meaning of unknown words as an important facet of comprehending texts and messages by using context clues to determine the meanings of words. (OE)

  • Use prior knowledge in conjunction with the following strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words by

    • Reading and rereading other sentences in the text to identify and use words that help unlock the meaning of unknown words

    • Using illustrations to clarify meanings of words and concepts

    • Looking for and using context clues provided by synonyms and antonyms

    • Using knowledge of homonyms and homographs to avoid reading confusion

    • Using word cues (e.g., metaphors, similes)

    • Using appositives

    • Selecting the correct definition of words that have multiple meanings

2.3c Using appropriate texts, students will be able to self-monitor comprehension while reading by (c) taking appropriate actions (e.g., rereading to make sense, adjusting rate of reading, seeking the meaning of unknown vocabulary) to enhance understanding of oral and written text. (OE)

  • Use illustrations to construct meaning from text

  • Visualize what was read for a deeper understanding

  • Make, confirm, adjust predictions

  • Reread difficult parts slowly and carefully

  • Explain personal connections to the ideas or information in the text(s)

  • Skim text to search for connections between and among ideas

  • Restate in own words the main events in the text

  • Periodically summarize while reading

  • Periodically paraphrase important ideas or information

  • Use a graphic organizer or other note taking technique to record important ideas or information

2.4a Students will be able to demonstrate an overall understanding of printed texts by (a) making…predictions as needed. (OE)

  • Predict likely outcomes based on clues in a text, knowledge of text structure, and knowledge of genres

  • Adjust previous predictions based on new information in a text

  • Identify logical, additional and/or complementary information (e.g., “next” chapter or section) for a text

2.4bL Students will be able to demonstrate and overall understanding of literary texts by b) identifying the story elements (e.g. characters, setting, and plot), features (e.g. foreshadowing, flashback, flash-foreword), and story structures (conflict resolution, cause/effect). (OE)

  • Identify character(s) in a literary text

  • Describe the changes in setting (flashback)
  • Identify various types of conflict (man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self, man vs. society)

  • Identify conflict(s) climax(s)/turning point(s)and resolution(s)

2.4d Students will be able to demonstrate an overall understanding of printed texts by (d) retelling a story….

  • Retell/restate in order the important events in a text

2.4k/2.6b Students will be able to demonstrate an overall understanding of printed texts by (k) relating the content of the text to real-life situations…. (OE)

  • Draw on prior knowledge and experience to connect personally to text (text-to-self connections)

  • Draw on prior knowledge of the world (other books, television, movies) to make text-to-world connections)

4.1a Connect their own experience to those of literary characters; explain the reasons for a character’s actions; identify with characters. (OE)

  • Describe the reasons for a character’s actions in a literary text, critically analyzing the text

  • Make and support relevant connections between the reader’s personal situations and motivations of characters in a text

4.1c Connect their own experience to those of literary characters by relating to the feelings of characters or varying ages, genders, nationalities, races, cultures, religions, and disabilities. (TT)

  • Read and compare stories from different cultures and eras to broaden cultural awareness
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the experiences and feelings of fictional characters (e.g., show empathy for, disagree with, compare to personal or other familiar experiences) based on age, gender, nationalities, races, cultures, and/or disabilities

4.2c Using literature appropriate for age, stage, and interests, students will be able to respond to literary text using interpretive, critical, and evaluation processes by (c) interpreting the impact of author’s decisions such as word choice, style, content, and literary elements, (e2) Understanding […] the author’s intent in choosing a particular genre.

  • Analyze the effect of author’s choices (word and content) on the reader

  • Describe how the author’s writing style influences the reader

  • Analyze how an author creates mood by choosing words with specific connotations

4.2f Identify the effect of point of view. (OE)

  • Describe how point of view affects a literary text (e.g., how a story would be different if told from a different point of view)

  • Describe how point of view impacts the reader

4.3a Respond to literary texts and media representing the diversity of American cultural heritage inclusive of ages, genders, nationalities, races, religions, and disabilities; respond to literary text and media representative of various nations and cultures. (TT)

  • Read and analyze stories from different cultures and eras to broaden cultural awareness

  • Sympathize with experiences and feelings of fictional characters based on age, gender, nationalities, races, cultures, and/or disabilities

4.4a Use literature as a resource for shaping decisions. (OE)

  • Read stories and relate characters’ experiences to shape own decisions by asking questions:

    • I felt like that character when I….

    • If that happened to me, I would….

    • I can relate to that character because one time….

Big Idea (This should include transferable core concepts, principles, theories, and processes that should serve as the focal point of curricula, instruction, and assessment. Ex: Manifest Destiny, fighting for peace.)

Oral tradition and storytelling

Unit Enduring Understandings (This should include important ideas or core processes that are central to the unit and transferable to new situations beyond the classroom. Stated as full-sentence statements, the understandings specify what we want students to understand about the Big Ideas Ex: Inverse operations are helpful in understanding and solving problems.)

Students will understand that…

  1. Great literature provides rich and timeless insights into the key themes, dilemmas, and challenges that we face. They present complex stories in which the inner and outer lives of human beings are revealed.

  2. Good readers may use many strategies that work, and they quickly try another one when the one they are using doesn’t work. They not only know many different strategies, but they never get stuck in persisting with one that isn’t working.

  3. Good readers are never afraid or embarrassed to admit when they don’t understand. Asking questions-of the text, of the teacher, of another reader-is what good readers do.

  4. Speakers do not always say what they mean. Indirect forms of expression (e.g., eye contact, hand gestures, facial expressions) require the audience to read between the lines to find the intended meaning.

Unit Essential Question(s) (This should include open-ended questions designed to guide student inquiry and focus instruction for “uncovering” the important ideas of the content. Ex: What is healthful eating? What is the relationship between fiction and truth?)

  1. What is a story? How are stories from other places and times about me? Must a story have a moral? Must a story have heroes and villains? Should a story or fairy tale teach you something?

  2. What do good readers do? What do they do when they do not understand?

  3. How do texts about other ages, genders, nationalities, races, religions, and disabilities tell experiences similar to mine?

  4. How is spoken language different from written language?

  5. How can I communicate so others will listen? How can I keep their attention?

  6. How do effective speakers hook and hold their audience? What is the best beginning? What is the best ending?

  7. Who is my audience? How can I involve them in my story?

Knowledge & Skills (This should include key knowledge and skills that students will acquire as a result of this unit? Ex: Factors affecting climate, The causes of World War II.)

It should also include what students will eventually be able to do as a result of such knowledge and skill Ex: take notes, complete a bent-arm pull, compare fiction to nonfiction.)

Students will know….

  1. Story elements – setting, character, plot, conflict

  2. Various forms of folklore

  3. Characteristics of folklore

  4. Good reader strategies – predicting, connecting, questioning, clarifying
  5. Rules for group discussion

  6. Ways to engage the audience when telling

Students will be able to…

  1. Compare and contrast folklore from various cultures

  2. Identify the story elements in a story

  3. Use good reader strategies to understand text

  4. Participate as an effective member of a discussion group

  1. Craft a story for telling.

  2. Use eye contact to keep audience engaged.

  3. Use physicalization to communicate the message along with the words.

  4. Use voice to create a variety of characters, moods, or attention levels.

  5. Use pauses effectively to help communicate the message.

  6. Identify which elements/traits from the writing rubric are evident in an oral telling.

  7. Explain how a story developed through an oral process can enhance a written document.

Stage 2: Assessment Evidence

(Design Assessments To Guide Instruction)

(This should include evidence that will be collected to determine whether or not the Desired Results identified in Stage One have been achieved? [Anchor the unit in performance tasks that require transfer, supplemented as needed by other evidence –quizzes, worksheets, observations, etc.]

Suggested Performance Task(s) for Short Stories / Storytelling (This should include suggested authentic tasks and projects used as evidence of student competency in the skills and knowledge deemed important in the unit. Ex: a written composition, speeches, works of art, musical performances, open-ended math problems.)

Consider the following set of stem statements as you construct a scenario for a performance task:

G – Goal—Ex: Reflect character’s motivation and predict his actions

R – Role—Ex: A character in Of Mice and Men

A – Audience—Ex: A family member or close friend

S – Situation—Ex: Creating a scrapbook chronicling a character’s life, real and inferred

P – Product, Performance, and Purpose—Ex: Scrapbook

S – Standards and Criteria for Success—Ex: Your scrapbook should include all components on included rubric

Note: There is no "district-wide" end of unit assessment; however, there should be agreement among your school staff as to what will be common across the school for each grade and each unit. The common aspect could be at least a single transfer task but may be more if your building colleagues wish. The data for the common item(s) should be analyzed across classrooms in your building and used to make curricular decisions for your building.
Transfer Task #1:
You are a writer for the literary magazine Reader’s Choice for kids in the 3rd-5th grades. The magazine prides itself on allowing the readers of the magazine to lead the content of the magazine. Respond to the letter below in a letter format. The letter and your response will be printed in the next issue of the magazine.
Dear Sam (or Samantha), I have noticed that some folktales seem to have the same storyline but certain items are different. Can you share with me three stories with the same basic plot but with different characteristics or elements? How are they the same? How are they different? Why are there different versions?
Signed, Just Wondering.
G – Comparison/contrast and folktale versions across cultures

R – Writer for a literary magazine – Reader’s Choice

A – 3rd to 5th grade students who read the magazine

S – Responding to a child’s letter

P – Letter and graphic organizer

S – State Writing Rubric and the following focus

Be sure to include -

  1. Introduce the subjects being compared – bibliography and short summary (organization)
  2. State a clear purpose for the comparison – Other than answering this letter, why might it be helpful for the child in the letter to do his/her own comparisons? (development)

  3. Include both similarities and differences and support each statement with examples and details. (development)

  4. Follow a clear organizational pattern – decide to organize story by story, plot element by plot element, or by categories of likenesses and differences. (organization)

  5. Include transitional words and phrases to make similarities and differences clear. (organization)

  6. Summarize the comparison in a conclusion linked to the purpose of the essay. Encourage the child to do his/her own comparisons. (organization)

Transfer Task #2: (DFI: Students may listen to the story that they wish to tell on audio or read it on their own. The reading level of the text is low and able to be within a student’s lexile range. UDL: This is an oral activity. Those with speaking difficulties may use assistance as needed.)
You have been asked to tell a story of a traditional tale or contemporary story from a book to encourage children to read for a local library. There will be two sessions: 4-5 year olds in one session and 7-10 year olds in a second session. You will use the same story for each performance.

G: Tell a story to different audiences.

R: Storyteller

A: 4-5 year olds and 7-10 year olds

S: Local library event

P: Tell a story

S: Preparation and Presentation Rubrics
Transfer Task #3: (UDL: This is an oral activity. Those with speaking difficulties may use assistance as needed.)

You are attending a dinner to celebrate a birthday of a friend or family member. You have been asked to tell a personal story of something that happened to this person. You may choose whether it will be funny or serious.

G: Tell a personal story

R: Friend or relative of the birthday person

A: Adults and children at party

S: A banquet hall birthday party

P: Tell a story and written form of the story

S: Preparation and Presentation Rubrics (See as separate documents.)

Rubrics/checklists for Performance Tasks (This should include holistic or analytic-trait rubrics used as a scoring guide to evaluate student products or performances.)

Transfer Task #1:






All main characters are included with at least three characters traits from all three stories.

Most main characters are included with 2-3 character traits from all three stories.

Most main characters are included with 2-3 character traits from two stories.

Some characters are included with 1-2 character traits from one story.


All major settings are included for all three stories. When and where story took place have been addressed when possible.

Most major settings are included for all three stories. May or may not include when and where story took place.

Some major settings are included for 2-3 stories. No reference made to when story took place.

Either no setting is present or only some settings are included for 1 story. Does not include any specific details.


Problem and solution are clearly stated in all three stories in summary form. Sufficient amount of events are included.

Problem and solution are clearly stated in all three stories in summary form. Some events included.

Problem and/or solution are not clearly stated and only come from 2-3 stories. May be lacking summary.

Problem and solution are not clearly stated in any of the stories mentioned.


Sufficient, specific and relevant comparisons of characters & settings for all 3 stories.

Specific comparisons of characters and settings for all three stories.

Some comparisons of characters and/or settings for 2-3 stories.

Few or confusing comparisons of characters and/or settings for 1-2 stories.

Transfer Task Rubrics for Presentation of #2 and #3 (Appendix A)

Score of 4

Score of 3

Score 2

Score 1

Use of Voice

Consistently projected voice to entire audience with clear annunciation. Used appropriate variations in rate and tone. Effective use of pauses.

Generally projected voice to most of audience with some annunciation. Used some variation in rate and tone. Some effective pauses.

Minimally projected or annunciated. Minimally used variations in rate and tone. Few or no effective uses of pauses.


Use of Body

Consistently used natural gestures and facial expressions that added to the telling without being distracting. Strong agreement of words with expressions.

Generally used gestures and facial expressions in agreement with words of the story. Some distracting movement or expressions.

Minimal use of gestures and facial expressions.


Engages Audience

Consistently engages audience through use of eye contact, imagination and/or audience participation.

Generally engages audience with some eye contact, imagination and/or audience participation.

Minimally engages audience. Little eye contact. Teller enters and leaves story. Little or no participation.

Audience is being lectured to/talked at instead of being drawn into the story.


Consistently demonstrates confidence and stage presence. Teller is at ease with themselves, and audience, and with the story.

Generally demonstrates confidence and stage presence. Some unnecessary pacing. Audience occasionally takes teller off course.

Minimally demonstrates confidence and stage presence. Teller appears to look to the audience for permission to tell.

Who is telling the story, anyway?

Transfer Task Rubric for Preparation of #2 and #3: The written elements below are assessed through the oral telling of the story. There is no category for assessing conventions since this is an oral telling. (Appendix B)

Score of 4

Score of 3

Score 2

Score 1


Unified with smooth transitions, a clear and logical progression of ideas, and an effective introduction and closing.

Generally unified with some transitions, a clear progression of ideas, and an introduction and closing.

Minimally unified and may lack transitions or an introduction or closing.

Lacks unity.


Sufficient, specific, and relevant details that are fully elaborated and in agreement with the spine or central truth of the story.

Specific details but may be insufficient, irrelevant, or not fully elaborated or in agreement with the spine or central truth of the story.

Some specific details but may be insufficient, irrelevant, and/or not elaborated or in agreement with the spine or central truth of the story.

No or few specific details that are minimally elaborated or in agreement with the spine or central truth of the story.

Sentence Formation

Consistently used appropriate variety in length and structure of sentences.

Generally used appropriate variety in length and structure of sentences.

Some sentence formation errors and a lack of sentence variety.

Frequent and severe sentence formation errors and/or a lack of sentence variety.


A consistent style with precise and descriptive words and phrases.

Some style and generally precise and descriptive words and phrases.

Sometimes general and repetitive words and phrases.

Often general, repetitive, and/or confusing words and phrases.

Other Evidence (This could include tests, quizzes, prompts, student work samples, and observations used to collect diverse evidence of student understanding.)

  1. Must folklore have a moral?

  2. Should a fairy tale teach you something?

  3. Does literature primarily reflect culture or shape it?

  4. How did your telling go today? What did you learn about the needs of your audience?

  5. What could you do to make your story better? (self-assessment)

  6. List a few recommendations that other tellers gave to you.

  7. What ways will you use to get better at telling your story? (self-assessment)

  8. List two Stars (positive comment) and two Wishes (constructive criticism) recommendations you gave to another teller.
  9. How does the storytelling process help you write better?

  10. In what ways can you use storytelling in your written documents?

  11. How can you use a story in your informative writing?

  12. How can you use a story in your persuasive writing?

  13. What did you learn today from the lesson? How will this make you a better storyteller and writer?

Required other evidence:
Task #1:

Students will read King Thrushbeard on pgs. 811-815 and answer the following questions.

  1. In what ways did the princess pay for her insolence toward her suitors? (Determining Meaning)

  2. Identify the following in this story (Determining Meaning)

    1. Characters

    2. Setting

    3. Plot Diagram

    4. Conflict

  3. How has the princess changed by the end of the story? (Interpreting Meaning)

  4. What makes this story a folktale rather than a short story? (Extending Meaning)

  5. Some people have said, “Like mother, like daughter” and some parents threaten, “I hope you have a child just like you.” What could King Thrushbeard and his Queen do to make sure their daughter makes better choices than her mother did? (Extended Meaning)

Task #2:

Students will read Flowers and Freckle Cream on pgs. 231-233 and answer the following questions.


Student Self-Assessment and Reflection (This should include opportunities for students to monitor their own learning. Ex: reflection journals, learning logs, pre- and post-tests, editing own work.)

Stage 3: Learning Plan

(Design Learning Activities To Align with Goals and Assessments)

Key learning events needed to achieve unit goals

(This should include instructional activities and learning experiences needed to achieve the desired results (Stage 1) as reflected in the assessment evidence to be gathered (Stage 2).

The acronym WHERETO summarizes key elements to consider when designing an effective and engaging learning plan.

W – Help the students know Where the unit is going and What is expected? Help the teachers know

Where the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests)

H – Hook all students and Hold their interest?

E – Equip students, help them Experience the key ideas and Explore the issues?

R – Provide opportunities to Rethink and Revise their understandings and work?

E – Allow students to Evaluate their work and its implications?

T – Be Tailored (personalized) to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners?

O – Be Organized to maximize initial and sustained engagement as well as effective learning?

Reminder: All specific reading sections below are recommendations for new teachers. A veteran teacher may select a different selection as long as the focus is on the same skill or strategy that is the focus of the identified selection.
Lessons for Short Story – To be developed at the school level until further direction can be provided.

Lessons for Storytelling

The extended lessons, called “Unit 2 Extended Lessons”, in Appendix C. The lessons provide a model of differentiated instruction. Several changes in activities help break up the hour block. The lessons are engaging, fun, productive, have purposeful noise, provide student talk time, and are brain compatible. Three types of brain compatible activities are included: celebrations, energizers, and review activities. Build each of these into your daily lessons. You can also find all the “Lecture Burst” details in the extended lesson plans.

  1. General Process for the Lessons

    1. Small Group Practice Daily - Between each of the activities below, the students tell their stories again in small groups or triads but apply what was in the lesson for the day. These groups should change each day so that the child gets feedback from a variety of students.

    2. Practice at Home - The students will be expected to tell their story at home at least once a day. Parents, babysitter, extended family, sibling, or other adult could sign a sheet saying that this was done. Students will be encouraged to tell their story to a variety of audiences.

    3. Listening to Professional Storytellers - Listen to a story each day by a professional storyteller. See the CD’s listed in the resources area of this unit plan.

  2. Dealing with Stage Fright- In order to help motivate the students ask them to raise their hand if the following is true of them.

    1. How many of you enjoyed the story by (Carmen Deedy)?

    2. How many of you have had something funny happen to you?

    3. How many of you like telling about funny things that happen to your family, or your friends? (If many raise their hands, tell them to turn to their neighbor and tell an event.)

    4. How many of you are storytellers? (They all should raise their hands. If not, discuss the fact that they all tell stories of funny events or a good movie.)

    5. How many of you get frustrated when the story doesn’t come out as funny as when it first happened? (Tell them that by learning a few techniques each telling of the story can come out just as funny.)

    6. How many of you want people to pay attention to you when you talk?

    7. How many of you are scared to tell a story to your class?
  1. Dealing with Stage Fright – The teacher will help students deal with their hesitation to tell in front of the class by doing the following activity:

    1. Why are you scared?

      1. Think about what makes you scared. (wait time)

      2. Tell a partner why you are scared. (wait time)

      3. Let’s make a list. Record all responses on the overhead.

    2. Enroll (raise hand) for each item listed with heads down, eyes closed. (Get a feel for how many are in each category)

    3. Discuss: We all feel the same way. Everyone had their hand up at least --- times. What can we do to make everyone feel safe to tell his/her stories in this classroom?

  1. Collective Agreements - Students will state collective agreements they would like to establish for a safe classroom. The teacher will translate these into positively phrased statements that tell the students what to do instead of what not to do. See the following for possible phrasings:

      1. Laugh or respond (ooh, aah) only when I am trying to be funny, insightful, or expecting a response.

      2. Listen when I am speaking. Keep side talking to yourself.

      3. Look interested. Lean forward and make eye contact.

      4. Keep all predictions to yourself. Write them down if you want to prove that you were right.

      5. Only give ideas or suggestions if I ask for them. Students may ask people to:

        1. If asked, enjoy only. Keep responses positive or negative to yourself.

        2. If asked, enjoy and respond positively only. Tell me what I did well and how it made you feel.

        3. If asked, enjoy and respond positively first, then give me ideas about how to improve.

  2. Share the preparation rubric and presentation rubric with the students. Explain that you will use these when giving Stars (effective telling features) and Wishes (constructive criticism).
  3. (Development) “You will be telling two stories at the end of this unit. One will be a story from a book and another will be from your own experience. During our lessons, you may select which story you will use to practice the skills. The other one will be developed on your own. Select a story that you like or an event for which you can remember many details. The event should have some conflict or lesson learned.” The teacher will show the students the transfer task for the personal story so that they can understand what to select for the topic. “Start with a small story in order to have room to mold it to your needs and the needs of your audience. Children’s books provide a good source for this. Students can search the school or public libraries. (Show some good stories for telling. Ask for their favorite books/stories.) Questions to ask when selecting a story: Do I like the story? Can I identify with it? Does it resonate within me? Choose one without rhyme. It will be easy for your audience to know that you messed up. (Remember: The audience doesn’t have the script.)

  4. Selecting a story – Talk about how to select a story for telling using the notes in the extended lesson plans.

  5. Before telling the story each time do this: “Now let’s look at the preparation rubric again.” Review the rubric and have students use it to give feedback to you about a story that you tell. Feedback comes in the form of stars and wishes. Stars represent the aspects of the telling that you enjoyed and why you enjoyed it. Wishes are aspects of the telling that you wish the teller would consider changing in someway. There should always be more stars given than wishes. At all times the teller gets to decide whether he/she wants no feedback, stars only feedback, stars and wishes feedback. Discuss how this rubric looks a lot like the state writing rubric.

  6. (Development) Using the lecture burst notes and activities for Step 2 Push through it and Step 3 Tell it from another point of view, help students understand that stories aren’t memorized. The activities in step 2 and 3 help students learn the story. Remember to use the energizers and celebrations after each activity. Activity for Step 2: tell your story to your partner as best as possible without looking at the book. Check the book or your notes on your personal story after you finish telling. Activity for Step 3: tell your story again but from the point of view of another person or inanimate object in the scene. What would that person or object see or hear? Information you find out through this activity may end up in your telling of the story.
  7. (Organization) Introductions and endings – “Just like in your writing pieces a storyteller plans for an engaging introduction and a satisfying closing. These are the only two lines in the story that are memorized. A good storyteller endeavors to pull the audience into the heart of the story within the first few sentences.” The teacher will show the students the ways that the professional storytellers they have listened to have started their stories. For example: Carmen Deedy starts this way

    1. The Trouble with Windows – I was visiting my mother recently while she and poppy were remodeling the kitchen.

    2. The Peanut Man – Mani Manicero se va (sung), Oh the peanut man. I was almost four years old curled up in my crib in my mother and fathers room in Old Havana. White cotton knotty blanket in my mouth chewing chewing then sucking out the spit. It’s great to be almost being four.

    3. First Snow – Poppy was the first to touch the snow.

Carmen Deedy ends this way

    1. The Trouble with Windows - Let me tell you something my American daughter, I have lived in this country for what thirty years now and if I could say “whindow” I would. And since then there has been no more trouble with “whindows”.

    2. The Peanut Man - I made an amazing discovery then and I’ve never forgotten: Havana, Savanah, Atlanta one peanut man can be much like any other. You just have to speak the same language. Maniiiii… Peanuts get your peanuts.

    3. First Snow - Much like the snow, the Americans that we had encountered were beautiful but cold. Little did we know at the time that like the snow they too would melt on contact.

  1. (Organization) Have students look at books to collect interesting introductions or closings. Next have students try to rewrite some introductions or closings. Explore and make a list of the ways that authors and storytellers end their books or stories. Working with a partner, have each student write down his/her opening line and closing line for the story that he/she is preparing.

  2. (Development and Style/Word Choice) Sensory Images
    1. Play a favorite story that the students have heard before. Have the students write down on index cards the specific details that the professional storyteller uses (one per card). In small groups, have students sort the cards according to something they could see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. What would the story sound like without those details? Read a revised version (without specific details) of a story they have not heard. Ask them if they enjoyed it. Next play for them the real version of the story. (See Appendix D: Revision Example for an example.) “In triads, decide who is person A, B, and C. To start, A will be interviewed, B will ask the questions and record responses, and C will record responses. The notes will be given to the person who was interviewed. The roles rotate so that all students have been interviewed and have notes.”

      1. Picture your story and being in the scene, what do you see? What does it look like? Describe it.

      2. What sounds do you hear?

      3. What do you taste?

      4. What do you feel?

      5. What do you smell?

      6. What did you do?

  3. (Development) Shrink a Century – “Pick and choose which items you discovered in the interview will be helpful and which will be distracting. Incorporate the sensory images throughout the action. DO NOT make a list of what you see, hear, and so on.”

  4. (Sentence Fluency) Sentence Fluency - “Sentence Fluency is the readability of the paper. The sentences should flow smoothly from one to the next. The writing should sound natural--the way someone might talk. The sentences should have different beginnings, lengths, and structures. The paper should be written in complete sentences, not fragments. Any fragments that are used should add to the quality of the message. Also, the paper should not be one long sentence containing no punctuation. Play with the sentence structure to create the desired effect.” Students will tell their story to their group and the other members can listen and comment on the sentence fluency.

  5. (Style/Word Choice) Memory Hook – develop a repeating line that can be used throughout the story. When telling, your audience should be encouraged to say the memory hook with you. The hook helps younger kids to stay focused. Older students and parents enjoy it as well. Don’t force this. If a memory hook doesn’t fit, then don’t use it.
  6. (Style/Word Choice) Selecting the Right Word - Students will listen to a story and be given a list of Power Words used in the story. Power Words are those that add to the mood, are descriptive, or are strong action verbs. Discussion: “How does an author choose words? How does he/she create a mood?” See this website for information about choosing the right word: http://www.ivcc.edu/rambo/eng1001/eng1001_diction.htm .

  7. Preparation Review – “You have been writing a story but with your voice instead of your hands. What elements in the telling are examples of what a writer does when writing down a story?”

    1. Introductions and closings - Organization

    2. Sensory Images - Development

    3. Memory Hook – Style/Word Choice

    4. Selecting the Right Word – Style/Word Choice

    5. Sentence Type – Sentence Structure

    6. Shrink a Century - Development

    7. Push Through - Development

    8. Telling from a Different Point of View - Development

  8. Presentation Preview - “We have now prepared the story. Many of you have begun to use the principles that come under the rubric for presentation. Let’s look at the rubric.” The teacher will talk about the rubric. “The lessons over the next couple of days will help to illustrate how to apply these to a telling.”

  9. Presentation Example - Watch the video from the textbook of the professional storyteller. Using Cornell notepaper, student will identify what physical features make the telling interesting.

  10. Presentations Elements - “How does a teller help you to feel like you are there when you are watching him/her tell? He/she uses his/her eyes, voice, and face/body. He/she pulls them all together with his/her imagination.”
    1. Imagination – “To properly tell a story, you must see it in your mind as though a 360-degree movie of the story were playing around you. Walk through it and take your audience with you. Create spatial relationships by focusing with your eyes where you want something to be. Just remember where you put things. Don’t use props. Generally they are distracting. Allow the picture of the story be recreated in the minds of the audience. By seeing and handling the scene around you, you will create a story environment for your listeners to enter.” The teacher will demonstrate the telling of a story with and without using his/her imagination. Ask students to raise a flag when you switch from one to the other within the story.

    2. Eye contact – This is critical to keeping your listeners engaged. You are the one in command, fearlessly burrow into someone’s eyes for a second or two, then move to another person. Avoid staring at the ground or off to the side without purpose. Have students practice telling their stories to at least a group of 5 students and use eye contact. The teacher will again demonstrate telling the story with and without effective eye contact.

    3. Face/Body – see the notes and activity on Physicalization – Face and Body in the extended lessons plans. Have students practice the skill while retelling his/her story to a small group.

    4. Voice – see the notes and activities on Voice and Pauses. Have student practice the skill while retelling his/her story to a small group.

  11. Discuss the differences in telling that is needed for different ages. Have the students practice tell their stories to each type of audience.

    1. 3-5 year olds need very big silly movements; goofy faces; over exaggerated actions; use memory hook so that they can join you at the right time; shorter stories – you may need to leave out some details; you may need to find a way for little kids to stand up and do a movement every time you say a particular word. Be sure to practice this with the audience before you begin.

    2. Older students still enjoy a good memory hook; the story can be longer and the movements don’t need to be so exaggerated.
  12. PEP talk: “Your story is now ready. You have told this story at least 10 times over the past couple of days in class and at least 5 times at home. You know it. You are ready. You know this story better than anyone else in this room. You’ve changed it. We won’t know if you make a mistake. Remember to not show us if you make a mistake (teacher demonstrate body language that shows you made a mistake). Just go on from there and adlib if needed. Be ready to tell it to your classmates over the next two to three days. Remember to keep practicing at home to a mirror, sibling, parent, babysitter, grandparent, pet – just find someone. The larger the audience the better.”

  13. Hold a storytelling festival where students perform for the whole class or multiple classes one of their stories that they prepared for the transfer tasks. Invite parents to participate in the event.

  • Create a Party/festival atmosphere – no food needed

  • Attitude: We want to hear some stories.

  • Do energizers every 3 stories

  • Do celebrations after each story

  • Have the energizers and celebrations in separate containers to be pulled when needed. The person, who told, pulls his/her own celebration. The 3rd person to tell pulls the energizers.

  • Remind them of the guidelines – the audience gain PBS tickets for following the guidelines

  • Reward with multiple PBS tickets those who volunteer to go first.

  • It is possible to get 6-8 stories in a day or more if they go really fast.

    1. In order to hear all three stories for the transfer tasks, you may want to require one story (student choice) be told during the celebration. The other two stories/versions could be evaluated by video or by small groups of students with the teacher circulating to record some anecdotal notes for each telling. You could also ask the student to tell about how he/she might change the story to reach a different audience and to demonstrate one portion of that version.

Did you consider the following unit design principles?

IP – International education perspective

IL – Information Literacy

WR – Workplace readiness/21st century skills

FA – Formative assessment, used to check for understanding

DI – Differentiated Instruction

UDL– Universal Design for Learning

TL – Technology Literacy

Resources & Teaching Tips (Consider the two questions below when completing this section.)

  • What text/print/media/kit/web resources best support this unit?

Artist in Residence: Michael Forestieri (grants available)

Tales from Around the World – Mike Lockett, The Normal Storyteller

Growing Strong: Tales of Loyalty, Love, and Lessons Learned – Michael Forestieri

Penelope, Charity, Hilary Duck and other Farm Friends – Michael Forestieri

Tellin’ Time – Ed Stivender

And Once Again… - Ed Stivender

Growing up Cuban in Decatur Georgia – Carmen Deedy


Storytelling: Tales and Techniques – Connie Regan-Blake and Barbara Freeman, The Folktellers

Literature in Performance video – McDougal-Littell



After the End: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision by Barry Lane

The Art of Storytelling by John Walsh

  • What tips to teachers of the unit can you offer about likely rough spots/student misunderstandings and performance weaknesses, and how to troubleshoot those issues?

Some students are reluctant to tell in front of a large audience. lesson plans are explicitly designed to slowly move students to be more comfortable talking in front of audiences. If this does not work, then have him/her tell in front of a smaller group.

Accommodation/Differentiation ideas and tips (This should include a list or description of ways that you will differentiate instruction according to students' needs. This can include any curricular adaptations that are needed to meet special needs students. Ex: using reading materials at varying readability levels, putting text materials on tape, using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students, meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners.

DFI: Students may listen to the story that they wish to tell on audio or read it on their own. The reading level of the text is low and able to be within a student’s lexile range.
UDL: This is an oral activity. Those with speaking difficulties may use assistance as needed.

Technology Integration

http://languagearts.pppst.com/myths.html - free PowerPoint slides





http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=261 -Behind the Scenes With Cinderella

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=91 – Exploring World Cultures Through Folk Tales

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=874 – Teaching About Story Structure Using Fairy Tales

http://www.ucalgary.ca/%7edkbrown/cinderella.html - Cinderella Stories

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=1 - Fairy Tale Autobiographies


Search internet for stories

Audiotape/video tape the telling for self-reflection

Content Connections
Traditional tales from countries that are studied in Social Studies could be emphasized.

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