Digesting a Story Unit

1. Digesting a Story….What is it?

  • It is a multimedia project which meshes higher order thinking skills, Language Arts/Reading Grade Level Expectations, food and technology.  The students will use the internet (Read Write Think Interactive Story Map site), MS Word, digital cameras, video camera, computers, printers, edible character (cookies, gingerbread houses, etc. to enhance a creative reading/writing unit. Through the use of all of the above listed, the students will create little movies using the edible items as their characters and settings.

2. How can it help in my classroom?

·         It can be used to incorporate higher order thinking skills, reading and writing skills in a fun, yet productive and effective manner. (See each holiday link Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving)

3. How will it fit into the Comprehensive Curriculum?

4. When can it be done?

·         Anytime for any reason. Holiday themes are popular and easy to use because of the availability of edible characters and settings at that time of year.

5. Where can I find the information?

6. What do I need to do to begin?

·         Explain the "goal" of this unit is for them to write their own stories and a chance for them to use digital photography (both still and video) to create a little movie using edible story characters and the setting. Teacher will need to gather a video camera, a still camera, a tripod, an empty video tape or memory card for cameras, edible characters/setting items, a fire wire,  computers (with an appropriate word processor), Story Map to be printed or a Story Map Template to be done on the computers, a program which can be used to capture the digital footage and can also edit. Internet will be needed for online graphic organizer. RubiStar  is an excellent tool for grading multimedia projects which will also be needed.

  • Teacher will decide number of stories expected from the class.

  • If digital video equipment is unavailable, the students may take “digital still photographs” and create a PowerPoint presentation.

7. What is the purpose?

·         The purpose is to help children think creatively and to teach them to use higher order thinking skills through the use of technology.

8. What are the project goals

  • The students will decide on a central idea for a story. The story has to include a feasible plot, a descriptive setting, several characters, a problem and a resolution. Using edible props, the students assist in creating their own settings and characters. Then using a standard four component map, they describe the setting they were going to use. The next step is looking at gathered edible and non edible pieces that could be designated characters in their story. Finally as a group, they will discuss and decide on a problem for their story and "how" they would choose to resolve it. The final result will be a video tape, CD or DVD of their original stories and created settings.

9. What are the student expectations?

  • the students will create original group stories using the objects and items provided to them.

  • the students will create their own edible setting and will choose their own story characters (and will name them).

  • the students will work in peer groups with leaders guiding them through the brainstorming, story mapping and the use of graphic organizers.

  • the students will be able to identify the four story components (setting, characters, conflict and resolution).

  • the students will create a story with a plot which involves a hand made setting, edible characters, a conflict and a resolution.

  • the students will be able to write and produce a story to be video taped.

  • the students will be able to create their own story questions using their original stories.

  • the students will use the computers to type their stories.

  • the students will use the writing process to produce a final draft to be shared with others.

  • the students will read each other’s stories and will map the story using the four components (setting, characters, conflict and resolution.) Printable Story Map may be used for the children to write on or they can use the MS Word Story Template.

  • the students will read all final reading stories and will complete the assessment questions created by each other.

  • the students will check spelling, edit and proofread their own stories.

  • the students will be able to retell each story.

  • the students will use higher order thinking skills in producing a story conflict and the resolution to that problem.

  • the students will be able to use digital photography to enhance the project.

10.  What long should it last?

  • One week (Reading, Language Arts Block) - Reading/Language Arts Block Time

  • Time divided by the teacher as to how and when to work through the process.

11.  How do I Set up?

  • May be done as a whole class or divided into groups. Time management is crucial. Be prepared with a set goal in mind. Flexibility plays a part in this process.

  • Purchase or create edible items which could create a setting and characters. Example: Setting-Gingerbread House Kits, powdered sugar and marshmallows (snow), trees (Little Debbie Brownie Trees) or Christmas Tree Cookies, Candy Canes or any other items that could create a scene for the stories. For Spring or Easter grass, dying shredded coconut green is an option.
    Optional: Have parents donate treats or go to a local bakery/grocery store. Another hint is to look at Little Debbie products and seasonal trees. |

  • Once all of your ingredients are in place, allow them to look at the items displayed. Then explain that the goal will be for them to write a story using the "Steps of the Writing Process". Each group will create their own setting, name their characters and create a story problem and solution,

  • Choose a "Photographer" each day to document with a digital camera.

  • Choose a cameraman or a crew to film the segments.

12.  Pre-requisites -The students will have to be knowledgeable in completing story maps. This  Read Write Think Interactive Story Map site can serve as a platform in helping the students understand the concept of story mapping and how to identify conflicts and resolutions quickly and confidently. Practice this type of activity before this project begins. The children also have to have some type of knowledge of how to use MS Word or another word processor program.

13.  Lesson Plan
a. On the board or on a display area, write the words: "Setting ???"; Characters ???; Conflict ???; Solution ????
b. Ask why they think the question marks were placed there? Discuss their theories.
c. You will then ask and discuss these four components of a story:

  • What is a setting?

  • What are characters?

  • What is a conflict or problem?

  • What is a solution?

d. Now you will explain to them what is the “goal” of this unit. Then decide on how many stories you expect to come from the class.

e.  Now create a setting using props that the children may use for each of their stories.

·         Example: If you are creating a house or village, etc. you build that with their help. This could be an excellent art project to get started.

f.  You may find small edible Christmas trees that enhance the scenes. Once the setting is complete, have the students look at would could be characters. Example: Gingerbread men, or other types of seasonal cookies. For Halloween pumpkin, ghosts, witch cookies, etc. Turkey cookies for Thanksgiving. For Easter,  Chocolate bunnies, little marshmallow chicks, etc.
g.   The next step involves their creativity and their ability to describe their group's setting, the characters they would like to see in the story, a unique problem and how to solve their problem. Hand out the Printable Story Map  Word Document to print or use the Template for the children to work on the computers.
h.  Allow the groups to work through their ideas and have them document it on the "Digesting the Story Map". Walk around and listen to the group share ideas. If needed, probe them with questions to get them thinking. You may divide this into different sessions, depending on how well your child "map" stories. Suggestion: As a prerequisite for this have them work on the
Read Write Think Interactive Story Map site a few times to become familiar with story mapping on their own. Or have them create written story maps as often as they can before you start this. Place two children who are strong leaders in each group to guide the others. Explain to your leaders that they will not “do" the work, but "guide" or "lead" the group to work as a team, just as a teacher does with his/her students. Once they complete the four components of their story, they take the information and write a story.

  • Remind them of the Writing Process.

  • Stress they include a title, the author, an opening and closing sentence and the four components discussed in the story map

  • The group can discuss how they want to write the story. One person can write as they discuss it.

  • It goes faster if one faster writer serves as the secretary.

i. Once the story is complete, the teacher will sit and discuss the story with them to see if all of the information is included. The teacher will allow one child to read it. If grammatical errors are heard then the teacher can ask does that sound right. "Could it be stated differently", etc. Examples: If they wrote "is" and the appropriate term should be "are" talk them through it. Model what would beright if they don't know the answer. Use the words and phrases problem, conflict, resolution, solved and solution and fixed the problems, over and over again. The teacher should be probing constantly as each group continues to write as well as when they are done with the story.
j.  Now the group will go to a computer and take turns typing the story. Each student may type 2 or 3 sentences. (Each child should sit at the computer to assist. Again it is important to stress the importance of working as a group). The teacher should be walking around monitoring these activities.
k. The students will type and proofread and edit, then the teacher will conference with the group to edit the final copy.
l. Once the writing process is done, filming will take place. A digital video footage may be transferred into a program on the computer and a CD or DVD may be created. Students will have to work through the movements of their scenes using the characters.  Allow time to practice the reading as well as the movements of characters.  Also stress that to speak slowly and clearly to be heard on the footage.
m. Students will be told about assessment of grades.  After the filming takes place, the teacher will make copies of each story to give to the students. Each story will have a blank story map sheet.
n. Once modeled by the teacher, the students will create five questions about their own stories to be placed on a final test. The group will create and type the questions for their own story. The teacher will help guide the students with trouble.  Each student will then be given a final story and test questions to read and answer.  Each of the stories will also be mapped.  All of these activities can be combined and graded with a multimedia rubric.
o. Now comes the part where the students literally "Digest their Story" setting and characters. Discuss how they can digest it mentally and physically. (This will take a few days to get to this stage, so cover the settings each evening). The children should wash their hands each time they will touch the setting, etc. Don't unwrap all items. Then the students can eat the unwrapped gingerbread cookies, marshmallows, and items that you know are sanitary. Each night carefully store and wrap the food carefully.
p. Optional: Creating a CD or DVD: Movie Maker on XP machines allow for the video to be "captured" from the video recorder. A fire wire is needed to capture the footage. Once captured, the footage may be edited and transitions may be added. To upgrade to Movie Maker 2, click here. Adobe Premiere and Premiere Elements work wonderfully with this type of project.
q. Once the editing is complete, the filmed stories are now viewed. The teacher may show the video tape or transfer the video footage into a CD or DVD. The
Adobe Premiere Elements and "capturing" with the use of a fire wire produces clear footage. Be aware of "capturing settings" during the process. For clarity, try to choose the higher setting.