Using my Promethean Flipchart to guide instruction (see resource), the students gather on the floor as we discuss their prior knowledge of the story of Cinderella. By this lesson, student have heard different versions of Cinderella and wondering what's next. The suspense is over as I tell them that there exists a story about a "Cowgirl Cinderella". The book I will read aloud is: Cindy Ellen, A Wild Western Cinderella. Prior to reading this story aloud, I ask students to pay attention to unusual details the author uses to draw you into the story.
Students start to chuckle and giggle, of course, because this story uses a humorous, informal tone and infuses lots of similes and metaphors typical of the southwestern dialect. However, the predictability of the underlying central theme keeps the reader on familiar ground. Literary elements promote rhythmic patterns and provide meaning to this unusual version of Cinderella, addresses the ELA Common Core craft and structure.
Once the story concludes, I ask students to share unusual details from the story. Most of the conversation focused on Cindy Ellen's lifestyle as a cowgirl. Students share that they find the author's tone and choice of words humorous.
What better activity after reading a comical Cinderella version than to create a comic strip using speech and thought bubbles as dialogue. I chose this method because I notice students in my class love to draw comics and create super hero graphic novels during their free time. I might as well convert their drawing distraction into a lesson.
I show my class the book: Cinderella, the Graphic Novel, by Beth Bracken (see resource). We examine the structure of the frames, pictures, dialogue. Also, we analyze for any patterns in the order of the pictures within each frame and its relationship to other frames in story telling. We can chart what we observed on chart paper. However, I have a projector hooked to my laptop and prefer to type student findings using a word processor. This way, students can see from all parts of my room to use as a guideline when working on their comic project.
I instruct each member of a collaborative team to take one square of paper for their part of the comic strip. Then, I explain the activity they will do. Students are to work in groups to create a comic strip showcasing a different version of Cinderella. First, students are to decide on a story line. Then, they decide on the sequential order of their comic strip within their groups. Each member draws one frame of this comic strip.
I review the norms, rules, and roles that each collaborative team must follow to guide them in this shared project. We review the cooperation rubrics in order for students to understand the expectations of each member of the group. The rubric allows each group to gauge the effectiveness of their teams in completing this task (see resource).
Following student guidelines, I walk around the room to observe and assist as needed. However, students are too busy discussing strategy and creating their own version of Cinderella that they don't notice me walking around. This is an engaging activity, but you must make sure students are established in their cooperative groups. This means they understand expectations and follow the group norms, rules, and use the rubrics to guide progress (See Resources).
As I watch my students work in collaborative groups, I realize that the success of their cooperation depends on the engagement to their project. This is a great project for my students because an interest survey revealed that these particular students love to draw. Creating a section of a comic strip together not only promotes collaboration, but also peaks their interest and engagement.
Just as a mirror shows your reflection, I explain to students that their reflection or feedback on a lesson is important to me. I can see my reflection through their eyes. I would like students to be part of the planning process of each lesson and require their input as much as possible. As we talk about points of view, I would like to see the lessons I create from their perspectives. This is the only way I know to improve my lessons.
I meet with the team leaders at each table to discuss areas of strengths and weakness in their groups. Each team leader fills out a reflection form to summarize our discussion (See resource).