Third Grade - Literature - Overview - February
 
Sayings and Phrases
The phrase Touch and go is included this month. References are made to touch and go situations found in literature and film. Students are given the opportunity to work in a cooperative group.
 
Poetry
"Dream Variation" by Langston Hughes is approached through a performance assessment task this month. You may choose to have students work independently on the task, or you may wish to "walk" through it with them, making sure that they are taking the time to truly read the questions (some have multiple parts) and answer them fully.
Do go over the scoring of this task (and any others you may use from BCP), allowing students to assess their own answers based on the scoring guide. You may wish to ask volunteers who felt they did a good job to read their responses aloud. If you choose to do so, be sure to point out ways in which their answers meet the criteria for points.
 
Stories
The text of "The People Could Fly" is included in the lesson so that students may read along. Possibilities exist for relating this lesson to the Art lesson on Faith Ringgold's quilt, Tar Beach. Students are asked to write their own interpretations of the story title.
 
Third Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Touch and Go
 
Objectives
Explain the meaning of the phrase Touch and go.
Identify touch and go situations from literature and film.
 
Materials
Copy of the phrase, Touch and go, on sentence strip or chart paper
 
Suggested Books
Hirsch, E. D., Jr, ed. What Your Third Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
 
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Room, Adrian, revised by. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: HarperCollins, 1959, 1995.
 
Teacher Background
The literature selections mentioned in this lesson are from stories covered in Third Grade Core lessons. Encourage students to give examples from stories they have read in Reading Mastery as well (e.g. "The Land of Peevish Pets," "Kathy and Linda", "Herman the Fly," "The Great Wooden Horse," "Andrew Meets Smiling Sam," "Eric and Tom Find a Time Machine") Do not discount selections from age-appropriate films, but whenever possible, direct the students to a literary selection.
 
Procedure
Display the phrase, Touch and go, and ask a volunteer to read it aloud. Ask students if they have ever heard the phrase before and if so when and where. If students are unfamiliar with the phrase, ask them to tell what the phrase implies to them. (Students may think of the game "It" and having the person who is "it" touch another and then race off.) Tell the students that touch and go means "a narrow escape" or "a tricky situation that you are unsure as to how it will go."
Ask students if they can think of a situation that would be touch and go. Point out that when someone is seriously injured and it is uncertain as to whether they will survive we would say that it was touch and go until they improved. Students will no doubt relate to the hero or heroine of a story hanging over a ledge and trying to regain footing as touch and go. However, be sure to explain that touch and go can fit less serious situations as well. For example, someone who is having difficulty coming up with an excuse may say that it was touch and go until they came up with an appropriate story.
Tell students that the phrase originates from a narrow escape where the wheel of one vehicle touches that of another without either vehicle being damaged. You may wish to have two students demonstrate this by walking toward (or beside) each other and briefly (and gently) touching elbows.
Write the title of an adventure story on the board. Choose something familiar to your students, either from literature or film. Ask them to identify a touch and go situation in the story so that you know that they are firm about the meaning of the phrase. (Possible selections would
be "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," "Wind in the Willows," "William Tell," "Stolen Thunder" [Thor's hammer is stolen], and Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones' films)
Next tell the students that they are to think of other examples that fit touch and go. Put the students in groups of four and assign a recorder to write down their ideas. Also assign a leader, a timekeeper and a reporter to each group Tell the students that the leader will ask each person in the group to share at least one idea, the timekeeper will keep the group moving and aware of the time and the reporter will share the group's ideas with the rest of the class. Give the students five or ten minutes to work.
After the time is up, have the reporters share their group's ideas one at a time, rotating to a new group for each response. Go through as many rotations as time permits, listing the examples on the board. Be sure to point out that there may be several touch and go instances within one story.
 
Third Grade - Literature - Stories - The People Could Fly
 
Objectives
Discuss various interpretations of the verb "fly."
Explore "flying" as a way to mentally escape.
Read an African-American folktale.
Write an interpretive paragraph about the story.
Materials
Classroom-size world map and map of the United States
Individual copies for students of the story "The People Could Fly" (attached)
 
Suggested Books
Hamilton, Virginia, told by. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York: Scholastic, 1985.
A wonderful collection of American Black folktales suitable for read aloud and independent student reading. The stories are accentuated with the gorgeous art of Leo and Diane Dillon.
Hirsch, E. D., Jr, ed. What Your Third Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992.
Turner, Ann. Nettie's Trip South. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
 
Teacher Background
In Art this month, students study Tar Beach, a story quilt, by Faith Ringgold. In the quilt and the accompanying book Tar Beach, the theme of flying is examined. Even if you do not study Ringgold's quilt as a piece of art, it is worth reading the book Tar Beach in conjunction with "The People Could Fly."
Because students have studied the Civil War in Second Grade, they may have already heard the book Nettie's Trip South, but if they have not, you may wish to share it with this lesson. This very short book delivers a very powerful message about slavery. Slavery is also addressed in Reading Mastery VI, lesson 76. Lessons 77, 80, 81 and 82 (RM VI) are about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
 
Procedure
Write the word "fly" on the board and tell the students to think about the meaning of the word. Tell them to think of the word as an action, as in "birds fly." (Write this on the board.) Ask students to work with a partner and make a list of all the words that could take the place of the word "birds" and still make sense. Allow approximately two minutes.
Ask students to share their responses. Possible answers are: airplanes, jets, witches, bats, helicopters, baseballs, the name of any variety of flying bird, squirrels (even though they actually glide), ghosts, kites, etc. As students share their responses get a consensus of agreement from the other students in the room. If no one suggests it, ask students if they have ever heard someone use the word "fly" to refer to someone or something traveling very fast, as in "He was flying around the bases." or "That car was flying down the street."
Write the title "The People Could Fly" on the board. Ask students if they think people can fly without the aid of an airplane or other similar machine. Allow discussion without affirming any particular response. Tell the students that they will read a short story titled "The People Could Fly" and after reading it, the class will discuss the idea of flying some more.
Tell the students that the story takes place in the United States during the time of slavery. Explain that people were brought as slaves from Africa to America. (Point to the continent of
Africa and the United States on the map.) Most of those people ended up in the southern part of
the country working on plantations, which were very large farms. Slaves were paid no money for their work and were treated poorly. They were expected to work long hours doing hard physical work. Many slaves were mistreated by the people who were in charge of them. Slaves could be sold, whipped and even killed if the owner so wished.
Have the students read the story "The People Could Fly" or read it to them. Be sure that students understand the vocabulary and can easily follow along.
When you have finished reading, ask the students if they now think that people can fly. If they respond affirmatively, ask them to describe the kind of flying they mean. Ask them if there is another way to fly that the class has not discussed. Allow discussion and then ask the students if they think that the slaves in the story really disappeared or if they let their minds help them to escape. Ask: Have you ever let your mind fly away from you?
Tell the students that there is still another meaning for fly. To slaves "flying" also meant escaping to the North. In the North slavery was forbidden by law so black people could go north and be free. Because "The People Could Fly" is a folktale, which means it was told for many years before it was written down, we can't be sure exactly what was meant by "flying."
Ask the students why they think the slaves told and retold this story. Point out that when things are very terrible, people try to make them better. For many of the slaves thinking that things could be better was the only thing they could do. By telling and retelling the story, they at least had hope.
Read the following quote from Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold to the students (if possible, share the entire book):
 
"... anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can't get to any other way. The next thing you know, you're flying among the stars."
 
Write the quote on the board (or chart paper or sentence strip) and discuss how important and powerful our imaginations are. Ask students to write a paragraph telling where they think the people who could fly really went.
 
Read from What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, pages 24-25.
 
 
Bibliography
 
 
Cohn, Amy L., compiled by. From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs. New York: Scholastic, 1993. (0-590-42868-3)
Hamilton, Virginia, told by. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York: Scholastic, 1985. (0-590-48211-4)
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Second Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1991.(0-385-31027-7)
_________. What Your Third Grader Needs to Know. New York: Dell, 1992. (0-385-31257-1)
Hopkins, Lee Bennett, collected by. Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. (0-671-73315-X)
Turner, Ann. Nettie's Trip South. New York: Scholastic, 1987. (0-590-42721-0)
 
Teacher Reference
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. (0-395-65597-8)
Hirsch, Jr., E. D., ed. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Our Children Need to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. (0-395-59901-6)
Room, Adrian, revised by. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New York: HarperCollins, 1959, 1995. (0-06-270133-9)