Class: A fourth grade ESL class, medium-high intermediate level
Size: 20 students
Ethnolinguistic composition: All Hispanic
Objective: Students will increase listening and reading comprehension skills and be able to determine the main characters, plot, and setting of a story and then write their own story.
Materials needed: Storybooks, worksheets, pencils, crayons, markers, and journals.
Ask students what they learned in class last time.
Go over vocabulary learned in the last lesson.
Hold up a few books and ask the students why they like books. Then ask them what we have to know to understand the books. Explain the meaning of main characters, setting, and plot and ask why it is important to know these things to understand the story
How do we know who the main characters are?
What does the setting tell us?
What does the plot tell us?
Show a large storybook version (1) of the Jungle Book and ask the students questions like,
"Who is on the cover of the book?"
"What do you think the plot of the book is?"
"Where do you think it takes place?"
Read the story, but before reading each page, show each illustration and review what has happened, where it is taking place, and who is involved in the main action (2), then ask the students questions about what they think will happen (3). Use gestures, pantomimes, and dramatic faces and voices for the characters as you speak to help make the meaning clear.
After the story is over, have a class discussion and ask them to identify the main character, plot, and setting of the story.
Pass out paper, markers, and crayons to the students. Now read a book to the class called Diego's Best Day (4) (a book about a boy their age who lives in Arizona has a good day at school and then scores 3 goals in a soccer game) and as you read it have the students draw the main characters, setting, and action of the plot as they listen (5). Then ask them to label and share their pictures. Discuss and ask questions to make sure they have identified the main characters, setting and plot correctly in the pictures.
Practice Activity #2: Divide the students up into groups of two and give each group a different story book to read together (6). Give them both worksheets to complete together that say main characters, setting, and plot that they must both fill in as a team. Teacher circulates around the room, observing, and helping as needed.
Give all of the students another worksheet that lists the headings of main characters, setting, and plot. Read the story Maria's Big Adventure to them, asking them all to write down the correct responses next to the main headings.
Assign the students to write their own short story and draw their own illustrations. But, before having them begin, have a class brainstorming session on the chalk board to help them think of ideas for main characters, settings, and plots. Have them write their story in a dialogue journal (7) and at the end identify the main character, setting, and plot. Then, as the teacher, respond to the content of their stories in their journal (8).
(1) Large format texts allow children to follow the words that you point to as you read, plus you can create a window or frame that allows children to focus on only one word at a time in the book.
(2) You can help your students listen and comprehend by stopping at certain places in the book to discuss a picture as it relates to the story or the review the plot.
(3) You may also focus comprehension by asking prediction questions as you go along.
(4) Using stories that have to do with the student's cultures, in this case Hispanic, many of the students will be able to relate better to the meaning of the story.
(5) As students map out the story through visual illustrations the teacher will be able to see how well they are comprehending the story.
(6) By having the students work in small groups, they are able to gain more individual practice and it promotes learner responsibility and autonomy.
(7) In writing their own stories, the students will have a chance to put their phonics and sight word knowledge into meaningful practice.
(8) For emergent readers and writers, dialogue journals offer students the chance to work out sound/symbol relationships in the context of an authentic communicative interaction with each their teacher.