Context for this Lesson
Topic: Story Structure and Character in Creative Writing
Focus questions: How do we infer information based on observation? How do we use inferencing skills (context clues) to sequence events and make predictions about what happened before and what happens next? How do specific details give the observer (or reader) more information about the performer (author’s) intent?
TEKS §110.15. English Language Arts and Reading, Grade 4 (b) (3) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to: (A) sequence and summarize the plot's main events and explain their influence on future events; (B) describe the interaction of characters including their relationships and the changes they undergo (6) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to: (A) sequence and summarize the plot's main events and explain their influence on future events; (B) describe the interaction of characters including their relationships and the changes they undergo (16) Writing/Literary Texts. Students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. Students are expected to: (A) write imaginative stories that build the plot to a climax and contain details about the characters and setting; and (B) write poems that convey sensory details using the conventions of poetry (e.g., rhyme, meter, patterns of verse).
§117.16. Theatre, Grade 4 (b) (4.2) Creative expression/performance. The student interprets characters, using the voice and body expressively, and creates dramatizations. The student is expected to: (A) demonstrate safe use of the voice and body; (B) describe clearly characters, their relationships, and their surroundings; (C) develop characters and assume roles in short improvised scenes, using imagination, personal experiences, heritage, literature, and history; and (D) dramatize literary selections in unison, pairs, and groups and create simple stories collaboratively through imaginative play in improvisations and story dramatizations, describing the characters, their relationships, and their environments and demonstrating a logical connection of events.
We will start today by looking at the word: Unbelievable. What does this word mean to you? Take multiple definitions of term, reframe if students are way off topic, can focus on root of word and the pre-fix “un” if useful. What genre(s) of writing is often considered unbelievable? Begin a brief discussion about genres that might include unbelievable stories like fantasy or fiction. Let’s imagine that we are members of the unbelievable creative writing team. The U.C.W.T. Our job is to create stories about unbelievable things. We work from unbelievable pictures sent to us from all over the world. We just received two very unbelievable pictures. Our job is to analyze each picture and use the details we see to infer what story the picture is trying to tell. So when you look at a picture, what sorts of things might give us information about what is happening? Write down ideas for groups to pull from in the small group work. (Teacher adds details as needed: people, location, action, feelings)
ARTIFACT (8 MINS) I have an unbelievable picture with me today that I would like to show you. Show the nun picture from the book. What do you see in this picture? What might be happening in this picture? In a moment we are going to create our own interpretation of this image in our bodies. We are going to make a frozen image - as stage picture or tableau. If we were to create a frozen image with our bodies of this picture, what details do we need to make sure we have in our image? These are great details. Now, let’s talk for a moment about how we create a great stage picture. To create a strong frozen picture, we need to think about the following:
SHAPE: What shape is your body making? How are you using your whole body? How can you use your body to show the audience where to focus? What is the shape of the entire image?
SPACE: How much space does your image take up? Why? How does space define character relationships? How might space define the mood and purpose of the overall image?
ATTITUDE: What feeling best captures the character? How do you show this feeling in your body? What is the attitude of the entire image?
Ask for three volunteers. Counting them in have them create an image of the illustration. Pull out similarities between the brainstormed list/illustration and the frozen image.
Transition: Great work. Now we have an understanding of what a frozen picture is. In just a moment I will break you into three groups. Each group will get a picture. Two groups will have the same picture. Your first job is to look at the picture together and to try and figure out what is happening in the image. Just like we did together. Pull from our list up here to get things started. Next, each group will create a frozen image of the picture using only your bodies. Remember Team, you can use your body to represent ANYTHING and everything in the picture (characters and the setting (objects/furniture)); whatever you think is important to tell your story.
STAGE PICTURE (10 MINS)
Divide students into 3 groups. Give each group to pick an image (have the images upside down, so they choose blind). Talk with your group about what you notice in your image. What are the most important details that you want to build with your bodies? Take a moment to brainstorm what details should be apart of your image. Now, I’m going to give everyone in your group a number, and you are going to build each image one person at a time. We are going to do this simultaneously, so each group will build their image at the same time. Assign numbers to each student (the same numbers should be in each group) and count the students in (each group does this simultaneously). Remind students as they enter in to look at what the image is, and what is missing. Once the image is built, tell them this is the middle image. Revise the image [invite one # out to serve as the director and make the image stronger based on “what makes a good image.”]
Remember this middle image. Now brainstorm with your group what happened before this image and what happened after. Let’s go back in time and create the before image first. Count them in one at a time again to create pictures. Choose another # to serve as director to revise the image. This is your before image. Let’s see you move from the before image to the middle image. Great. Everyone relax. Now let’s go forward in time and create the “after” picture. Count them in one at a time. Choose another # to revise as director. Rehearse the three images in order simultaneously.
Have each group show their sequence to the group. When I say “blackout” the audience will close their eyes while the actors get into place for image number one. When I say “lights up” the audience will open their eyes. Actors, wait til I say “blackout” to change to your next image. Are there any questions about how this will work?
Some different options for processing each group's image sequence:
#1: Ask the group what image they would like to see again.
- Describe: What do you see in this image?
- Analyze: Based on what you see, what could be happening in this image?
- Relate: What title would you give this image?
#2: Facilitator pick the image that best lends itself to voices in the head. (“Thought-bubbling”) What could this character be thinking in this image?
#3: Ask the group what image they would like to see again. Choose a character to “thought-bubble” and bring to life to interview. What would this character say in this moment? Actor playing this character can think of something they would say or can use a suggestion that they heard from the audience.
Describe: So UCWT, what did we do in our work together today? Anything else? (encourage them to name the steps they took to create their stories) Which details, or context clues in the picture did your group find most useful in creating your story. (In the discussion emphasize how they inferred meaning from what they saw.)
Analyze: We got to see two different versions of the same sort of story today which each had the same climax but a different beginning and end. How were they different? How were they similar? (emphasize character and setting in this discussion) We started with the same picture, how could two different stories or performances be created?
Relate: How might creating these images help us prepare for our creative writing exercise? For your writing center time today, you will get to write one of the unbelievable stories that you saw today. You can choose to write a story from the picture that your group had or you can write a story from another picture. I will put the pictures in the writing center so you can look at them more closely. As you write, think about how the way the story is told shapes our understanding of what is happening. (make connections to performance of character and setting and related details)
Hotseating Extension: the audience interviews this character If possible, scribe a sentence for each sequence of the of each HB picture. This would generate resources for the creative writing follow up.