Author:
Tracy Davis
Subject:
Performing Arts, Elementary Education, English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Reading
Level:
Upper Primary
Tags:
  • 5th Grade
  • Blended Education
  • ELA
  • NE ELA
  • Reading
  • Remote Learning Plan
  • Tall Tale
  • Upper Elementary
  • Writing
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Text/HTML, Video

    Reading and Writing - Tall Tale

    Reading and Writing - Tall Tale

    Overview

    This lesson uses tall tale read alouds to reinforce the common elements, or text structure, of tall tales. As the text is read aloud, students examine the elements of the book that are characteristic of tall tales. Then using what they've learned, they write and perform tall tales of their own.

    Background of the Tall Tale - Build Knowledge (NE LA 5.1.5.c)

    If in remote learning, the students can read the information in this section, or you can introduce it to the whole class.  Here is more background:

    The tall tale is essentially an oral form of entertainment; the audience appreciates the imaginative invention rather than the literal meaning of the tales.

    Associated with the lore of the American frontier, tall tales often explain the origins of lakes, mountains, and canyons; they are spun around such legendary heroes as Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the Pacific Northwest; Mike Fink, the rowdy Mississippi River keelboatman; and Davy Crockett, the backwoods Tennessee marksman. Other tall tales recount the superhuman exploits of western cowboy heroes such as William F. Cody and Annie Oakley. Native to the New England region are the tales of Captain Stormalong, whose ship was driven by a hurricane across the Isthmus of Panama, digging the Panama Canal, and Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple orchards from the east coast to the western frontier. Washington Irving, in the History of New York (1809), and later Mark Twain, in Life on the Mississippi (1883), made literary use of the tall tale.

    (https://www.britannica.com/art/tall-tale)

    A tall tale is a humorous story that recounts exaggerated and unbelievable events as if it were true and factual, using the everyday speech of the common people. They are often associated with life on the American frontier. The tall tale is essentially an oral form of entertainment; the audience appreciates the imaginative invention rather than the literal meaning of the tales.

    Most heroes and heroines of tall tales have unknown origins. Sometimes they were real people who were known for unusual strength or courage, and their deeds became exaggerated over time as their exploits were retold. Eventually, the heroes and heroines became larger-than-life characters. In other cases, the tall tale characters never lived at all, but were fictional characters who became more fantastic with each retelling of their stories.

    Build Knowledge

    1. The three main elements of tall tales: character, setting, and hyperbole.

    Character: Discuss with students the fact that the characters in tall tales differ from characters in other types of literature because their traits and feats are more exaggerated. Emphasize that the characters in tall tales often personify the traits most admired by the people who helped create the stories. Lumberjacks, for example, created the character of Paul Bunyan. Railroad laborers told the story of John Henry. These types of heroes and heroines were courageous, strong, honorable, thoughtful, and intelligent. For example, Flatboat Annie hauled a cargo of toys upriver so that little children would be happy.

    Setting: Setting is the time and place of the action of the story. Setting is more crucial in tall tales and folktales than it is in most fables. The setting in tall tales emerges from the specific experiences of people who lived in a particular time and place. For example, Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack, did great deeds in the huge forest of a new land. The story of John Henry (a heroic railroad worker) takes place during the rapid growth of the railroad network.

    Hyperbole: American tall tales use hyperbole, an extreme exaggeration for emphasis. Generally, the exaggeration creates a picture that is impossible and funny. Here is an example, 'One time snowflakes fell so large in Oregon that the ladies put handles on them and used them for umbrellas.'

    2. Keep the following points in mind as you read tall tales:

    • Let the characters come alive in your mind.
    • Imagine the setting. Picture where and when the events take place.
    • As you read each hyperbole (exaggeration), picture what is being described.
    • As you read, notice the connection between events. Events can be related chronologically, but in tall tales, events are usually related in terms of cause and effect; that is, the first event is the cause of the second, and the second is the effect of the first.
    • When you read a tall tale, ask yourself: What makes the most important character a hero or heroine?

           (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons/grade-5/Exploring%20Tall%20Tales.aspx#Instruction)

     

    Reading a Tall Tale (NE LA 5.1.6.g&k)

    You can choose to fill out the left side of the T-chart together as a class, and then listen to one of the stories together to fill out the right side.  This can also be done individually if in a remote learning situation.

    Another option is to use the book Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolen in class if you have a copy.  This book is part of our curriculum materials.

     

    Here is a lesson plan from Read, Write, Think if you choose to read a Tall Tale as a whole class activity:

    Instruction and Activities

    This lesson is intended to be used at the end of a unit on tall tales. Students should be able to use the knowledge and understanding that they have gained throughout the unit in evaluating the text Thunder Rose and creating their own tall tales.

    Before reading: What is a tall tale?

    1.In a whole-group setting, show students the cover of Thunder Rose and tell them that you think this is a tall tale, but you're not sure.
     
    2.Ask them to recall how they know whether a story is considered a tall tale, and record their responses on chart paper. A sample Tall Tales Checklist is available, or you can create your own checklist based on your teaching points throughout the unit or in previous lessons.
     
    3.As part of the brainstorming, ask students to connect each of their responses to other tall tales that they have read in the past and to recall specific examples from those stories that relate to each story element.
     
    4.Continue by saying, "This would make a great checklist so that we can check off what elements, if any, are present in Thunder Rose. Let's make a T-chart with the elements of tall tales on one side. If we find specific examples of those elements in Thunder Rose, we can record them on the other side." Use the large sheet of butcher paper to create and model the use of a T-chart.
     
    5.Show students the cover of Thunder Rose again, and ask them to make predictions about the text as they preview the cover and illustrations. (Use previewing or picture walk as an opportunity to also discuss words or terms that might be new for students.)


    During reading: Recognizing a tall tale
    [Note: The read-aloud of this book may need to occur over two or three sessions.]

    1.Read the first six pages of Thunder Rose aloud. Stop and ask students to recap what has happened in the story so far. Ask them also if the story exhibits any of the elements of tall tales listed on the T-chart. Record specific examples from the story in the right column of the T-chart across from the related elements. In addition, to ensure student engagement throughout the read-aloud, distribute a copy of the Tall Tales T-Chart to each student so that they can simultaneously record class responses on their own copies of the chart.
     
    2.Read the next eight pages aloud, and then ask students to recap what happened during Rose's childhood. During the read-aloud and class discussion, check for students' understanding of vocabulary in the story. [While the main focus of this lesson is to synthesize students' knowledge of tall tale elements, difficulty with vocabulary may inhibit students' understanding of the text. Conducting a vocabulary minilesson may facilitate comprehension and would be a good opportunity for refining thesaurus and dictionary skills.]
     
    3.Refer back to the chart and ask students for further evidence from the text that Thunder Rose is a tall tale. Record their responses on the class T-chart.
     
    4.Continue reading the text, stopping every so often to check for understanding of the story and vocabulary, and to gather and record evidence that supports Thunder Rose being a tall tale.


    After reading: To be or not to be a tall tale

    1.Conclude the read-aloud by having the class decide, based on the evidence that has been recorded on the T-chart, whether or not Thunder Rose is a tall tale.
     
    2.Review the elements of a tall tale and relate each one back to the story of Thunder Rose.
     
    3.

    If students need additional support or practice in identifying tall tale elements, you may allow them time to read other tall tales and use the T-chart to record other examples (see the Tall Tales Booklist for additional titles).

    http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/thundering-tall-tales-using-327.html?tab=4#tabs

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OR........

    Use this teaching plan from The Kennedy Center Arts Edge:

    Engage

    1. Explain to students that folktales containing exaggerations about characters and events are known as tall tales. Most heroes and heroines of tall tales have unknown origins. Sometimes they were real people who were known for unusual strength or courage, and their deeds became exaggerated over time as their exploits were retold. Eventually, the heroes and heroines became larger-than-life characters. In other cases, the tall tale characters never lived at all, but were fictional characters who became more fantastic with each retelling of their stories.

    2. Elicit from students brief descriptions of folktales and tall tales they remember hearing from family and friends. Draw on the diversity of the students' backgrounds.

    Build Knowledge

    1. Introduce the three main elements of tall tales: character, setting, and hyperbole.

    Character: Discuss with students the fact that the characters in tall tales differ from characters in other types of literature because their traits and feats are more exaggerated. Emphasize that the characters in tall tales often personify the traits most admired by the people who helped create the stories. Lumberjacks, for example, created the character of Paul Bunyan. Railroad laborers told the story of John Henry. These types of heroes and heroines were courageous, strong, honorable, thoughtful, and intelligent. For example, Flatboat Annie hauled a cargo of toys upriver so that little children would be happy.

    Setting: Setting is the time and place of the action of the story. Setting is more crucial in tall tales and folktales than it is in most fables. The setting in tall tales emerges from the specific experiences of people who lived in a particular time and place. For example, Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack, did great deeds in the huge forest of a new land. The story of John Henry (a heroic railroad worker) takes place during the rapid growth of the railroad network.

    Hyperbole: American tall tales use hyperbole, an extreme exaggeration for emphasis. Generally, the exaggeration creates a picture that is impossible and funny. Here is an example, 'One time snowflakes fell so large in Oregon that the ladies put handles on them and used them for umbrellas.'

    2. Tell students to keep the following points in mind as they read the tall tales:

    • Let the characters come alive in your mind.
    • Imagine the setting. Picture where and when the events take place.
    • As you read each hyperbole, picture what is being described.
    • As you read, notice the connection between events. Events can be related chronologically, but in tall tales, events are usually related in terms of cause and effect; that is, the first event is the cause of the second, and the second is the effect of the first.
    • When you read a tall tale, ask yourself: What makes the most important character a hero or heroine?
     
    (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons/grade-5/Exploring%20Tall%20Tales.aspx#Instruction)

    Choose one of the links to listen and read along with a tall tale. 

    Paul Bunyan             Pecos Bill               Casey Jones

    Use the T-chart below to list the exaggerations in the story you choose. Pause the story to write them down.

    You can print this chart.

    Tall Tale T-chart

    Your Tall Tale Plan (NE LA 5.2.2a&e)

     

     

    Explain to students that they are going to work in pairs to create original tall tales.
     Distribute the writing rubric that you have prepared for this lesson and model for students how to use the rubric as you write a rough draft of your own tall tale. Make certain to point out how you are integrating the elements of a tall tale into your own story, using the rubric as a guide. (If you are remote learning, you might have the option to do this via Zoom.)
     
     Place students in groups of two to begin brainstorming and working on their tall tales. They can use the Story Map or Sequence Organizer as prewriting exercises.
     
      
      
      
    1. Choose your partner to plan a tall tale.  You will be acting out your tall tale later.
    2. Fill out the graphic organizer or use the sequence chart to plan your own tall tale. (See below.) 
    3. Use the rubric to check if you are including all the elements of a good tall tale.

    Tall Tale Story Map

     

    Tall Tale Sequence Organizer

     

    Tall Tale Rubric

    Writing the Tall Tale (NE LA 5.2.1b,d,e,f,h,j)

    Students will use the writing process to complete their tall tales. 

    1: Generate a draft that develops a clear topic suited to the purpose and intended audience and organizational pattern, including a strong beginning, middle and end, and appropriate transitions linked to the purpose of the composition. (See rubric)

    2: Compose paragraphs with grammatically correct sentences of varying length, complexity, and type.

    3: Revise with your partner to improve and clarify writing through self-monitoring strategies - make sure you both contribute. Provide oral, written, and/or digital descriptive feedback to each other.

    4: Proofread and edit for spelling, capitalization, grammar, and punctuation.

    J: Publish a legible document in digital format applying formatting techniques - indent paragraphs, add title and both your names.

    Writing Assessment Rubric Tall Tale

    Acting out your Tall Tale (NE LA 5.3.1.b)

    To bring the lesson or unit to a close, designate time for students to share their original tall tales. Doing so brings the lesson or unit full circle as students will have gone through the complete cycle of "consume-critique-produce." Sharing one's writing is also an important part of the writing process.
     
    If time and circumstances permit, it would be great to share the tall tales with another class, create a book of the tall tales to share with parents or put them on display in the library so that the rest of the school can enjoy the students' work.

    Plan how you and your partner will act out your tall tale.  Follow the Guidelines and Scoring Rubric below.  You can use any method to record and then submit to the teacher or share with the class.

     

    Guidelines for Successful Performance

     

    Performance Assessment Rubric