Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Legend of the Blue Bonnet, Stories of the Earth & Sky, & Tried it Tuesday!

Continuing on into our 5th unit this year, we are learning about How the Earth & Sky are portrayed in fiction and nonfiction. Like I've mentioned before, this is a brand new curriculum for us and each month two out of our five 4th grade Reading/LA teachers get together with the Reading Specialist & Head of the Reading Department to write the actual curriculum. We are allowed a substitute for one day and there is a ton of work that needs to be done. Usually the next unit starts right away and we have to rush to share it with our colleagues. It was difficult this year because not only did we lack the storybooks and resources we needed, but we also lacked activities and assessments. We spent a lot of time searching the Internet and creating our own resources so hopefully next year will be easier. I was lucky enough to take part in writing Unit 5 & Unit 6.


Sooooo.... getting back to my post. Today I wanted to link up with Tried it Tuesday, because technically everyday is a new adventure in my room. It is a new lesson I have not tried or tested out before. Today I read The Legend of the Blue Bonnet by Tommy dePaola for the first time with my students. 

I started off by introducing the new vocabulary words to my class and gave six students (because there were six words) a chance to find out some meanings on the I-Pads. We try to incorporate research skills into our lessons any chance we get. Our students have improved on their skills TREMENDOUSLY since the beginning of the year! 

Next, I read the story and we discussed, as a class and in partners, parts of the text as we went through it. The book made so much more sense to the students since they were front loaded with the vocabulary. It allowed for a deeper understanding of the text, which was shown when discussing why the girl's name changed in the story. One student mentioned, "She is no longer She-Who-Is-Not-Alone because she is no longer "alone." She now has a place in her tribe and has proven herself a worthy tribe member, by making such a sacrifice." This was an awesome answer and I was thrilled.

We then added on to our class chart. 

The students then summarized the story on their own in their Reading Notebooks. They need help on summarizing, so we are focusing on it a lot in this unit. When they were finished, they started a worksheet to create their own Native American Name. A few days prior, Robyn and I, created a worksheet for the students to form their own Native American name based on their interests, achievements, character traits, but had to incorporate the Earth & nature (because we are trying to put a focus on them with this unit). Then they had to justify their name with specific examples from their life. We encouraged the students to use figurative language and to really put thought and effort into their name so it meant something, like She-Who-is-Alone, in The Legend of the Blue Bonnet.
You'll be excited to hear that my name, created by the class, is:
 She-Who-Is-As Sweet-As-Spring-Rain
Cute, hmm? ;)

When they were finished, we created name tags and wore them on our shirts. 
Students then walked around the classroom introducing themselves using their new name. They also had to explain how their name fit their life. They had so much fun doing this! They even used Native American voices! It was hysterical! As a class, we then sat down and students introduced each other.  This was great because it held students accountable for actively listening during their conversation with a classmate. They not only shared their name, but the reason behind their name too. 

At the end of the day, I had them stick them onto the chart so I could take a picture. It cracks me up at the names they came up with. One of my favorite's (it is in yellow so it's hard to read) is He-Who-Talks-Up-A-Storm.

Overall, I had fun teaching today and the students had a blast. We are getting ready to write our own legends when we come back from Spring Break.


  1. I love that your students do research to learn the definitions of the vocabulary words. I'm curious about if you use a specific app or website or if they know how to go and pick out an appropriate website. I did a lesson earlier this year where students researched what types of animals a whale ate. Another set of students then researched what those animals ate. In the end we had created a whole food web! So motivating, so engaging. Love it!

    Polka Dots & Teaching Tots

    1. Thank you! We do a lot of research in our lessons because we are lucky enough to have access to I-Pads. Our students go to Media lessons every other week and our wonderful Media Specialist has been focusing on research skills this year w/ our 4th graders. She has been teaching them where and how to search for information, how to tell what types of websites are real, and even improving their note taking skills. It has been really useful to my students and I build off of her lessons in class. Because of this strong base, I can pass out I-Pads and within a minute or two, students should be able to tell me the answer to any question. Most of the time they use google.com or clusty.com, but they are now also familiar with dictionary.com and the elementary school edition of Encyclopedia Britannica that our school has an online subscription too! Your lessons sounds awesome! I'd love to try that next year during our Animal Unit! :)

  2. I love the name tags idea. What a great idea to do with this book!

    Third Grade All Stars

  3. What a creative lesson! I love that your students created their own Native American name - I bet they were so excited! I think the unit sounds really interesting and I hope you'll be sharing more about it.

    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  4. We had an Earth and Sky unit in ELA also last fall which coincided with teaching Native Americans in social studies. I love how you have students come up with their own name and justify it. We do a "naming ceremony" but had to draw a name someone came up with from a hat like it was "chosen for them". I like your idea better! Do you have any resources to go with this? Thank you so much for linking up:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  5. What a great activity!!! I will need to remember this when I teach Native Americans next year!!! This would be a great post to link up to must read mentor texts for SS towards the end of the month!

    I really love this idea!! Thanks for sharing it!
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. What a great lesson! This is one of my favorite books- appropriate I guess since I've lived in Texas for over 30 years. I may try to adapt this next year for my first graders.
    By the way, the bluebonnets are in bloom here- they are beautiful!
    Still Teaching After All These Years


We absolutely LOVE comments and reply back to every single one. Unfortunately, the way the site is set up, you will not be notified when we reply. Make sure you have your email address linked up to your account. We will reply to you by email! Thank you SO much for stopping by and reading what we have to say.