The 1-2 class has lately been immersed in the timeless art of fairy tales, a biannual feature of Jen’s ELA class. Recently installed castle gates subdivide the classroom, which the students have adorned with individual coats of arms signifying their respective families’ tastes and ambitions. So, when they enter into the eastern quarters, they’re walking into a land of enchantment and wonder. Elements of the unit include developing the students’ comprehensive understanding of story structure and figurative details, which Jen instructs during guided and group reading sessions, and the students then try out within their own creative pieces. Likewise, they’ve been exploring the ways in which different cultures have interpreted similar tales. When I observed, for example, they were discussing Lon Po Po, by Ed Young, which is a version of Little Red Riding Hood from China wherein three sisters visiting their grandmother toy with a wolf who attempts to enter the house. To illuminate meaning behind the work’s beautiful illustrations, Jen led the class in making predictions, reacting to variance in expectation, and pinpointing their ideas based on detail. Students explained the use of repetition, the rhetorical importance of the number three, and symbolism within time and day and darkness and light, all of which helped them to expand their vocabularies and plan transferable stylistic skills to their own writing. They performed a “Think-Pair-Share” as part of the discussion, which paused the story while they each sat knee-to-knee with a partner and detailed predictions for the story’s climax. Following the reading, students broke out to individual corners of the room to develop their own fairy tale versions, which, like Lon Po Po, stem from a familiar concept but include the students’ original ideas. As they focused their attention on the page, Jen therefore could make the rounds of the room and work with individual students to offer feedback and hone their process. In fact, they were so engrossed in the activity that they didn’t seem to notice the large ogre in the room snapping pictures, until, that is, he requested a group shot in front of the castle, whereupon they happily welcomed him into the fold.
The Fourteen Little Schȫlæres and the Magical Teacher
Feb 10, 2020