Jan 15 2008

Writing Fables

Students use handhelds to compose a story with a moral.

Students use handhelds to compose a story with a moral.

Writing is a critical area addressed by No Child Left Behind, but it’s not always easy to excite your students about working on the craft of composition. By simply taking what could be a routine assignment, writing fables, and altering it with the technology of handheld computers, you can help enliven students’ creativity.

Lesson description: Handheld devices allow all students to have a hands-on writing experience. While the ultimate objective is to have each student write a fable, some pre-writing lessons take place first. Before writing the fable, students use their handhelds to read some of Aesop’s fables. Then a class spreadsheet is created and projected. This spreadsheet helps students identify the common elements of a fable, such as giving human qualities to animals or inanimate objects and including a moral.

Students then use Inspiration for Palm or Pocket PC to pre-write their fables. The elements of the fable are the main points of their graphic organizer. After they add notes about their stories, they transfer the outlines to a word processing program and finish writing their fables. Finally, they beam their fables to partners. Their partners edit and revise the fables. They are sent back to the original author for final reviews, and then they are printed.

Subject area: This lesson is geared toward middle-school and high-school language arts classes. It can also be used for younger students, especially if they work in teams.

Standards: National Council of Teachers of English Standards:

  • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

National Educational Technology Standards for Students:

  • Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity and promote creativity.
  • Students are proficient in the use of technology.
  • Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models, prepare publications and produce other creative works.

Resources: Students will need a handheld device, the Aesop’s fables e-book (gutenberg.org/etext/28), and an Aesop handout with categories that include Somebody, Wanted, But, So and Moral columns. Other helpful resources include an LCD projector, Inspiration for Palm or Pocket PC, and a handheld word processing program.

Grading Rubric: Students are assessed based on class participation and final products. Class participation is critical when reading and analyzing the fables. Their final products will be scored by a class-generated rubric. Some ideas for the rubric include:

  • title;
  • elements of fable (character, rising action, conflict, resolution, moral);
  • organization and grammar;
  • creativity.

Teaching Tips

  • Make sure the fables are pre-loaded onto the handhelds before the lesson.
  • When using Aesop’s fables, some outdated vocabulary words might need to be explained or replaced in the e-book.
  • Use RapidFire during the Inspiration part of the lesson. It is easier for students on the handheld device.
  • Create a class fable book and publish it for the school.