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One assignment that my students always enjoy is reading a text and acting it out. This assignment is so exciting and the students get to apply their reading habits.
“Stray” by Cynthia Rylant
We read “Stray” by Cynthia Rylant, and the students had to bring in props to make the short story come alive. Some of them brought in stuffed animals (dogs), kitchen items, paper snowballs, syringe for the medicine (for the animal shelter), among other things.
Next, they got into their groups and acted out the story. After, they answered higher order thinking questions. For instance, the students had to compare or contrast “Stray” to another story (or something on television) and explain what they now understand.
One student said, “I can compare the story to the commercials on T.V. about dogs. The commercial and the “Stray” show the suffering of dogs. Now I understand that we should take care of animals.” Others students shared that they believe people can change their minds because the father in the story had a change of heart.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The other story the students acted out was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor. This novel has intense themes, but the students were able to handle them in a mature way. There were some sections of the book that all of the seven classes chose to perform, like the part where Miss Crocker disciplines Little Man because he will not take the dirty, insulting book. The other part that many of the students chose involves Cassie and Lillian Jean at Strawberry.
And when the students talked about the theme of the novel, they continuously replied, “You shouldn’t mistreat people because of their skin color. We all should be treated fairly.”
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Now the students are reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and I cannot wait to see how they will bring the novel to life. Since the outside of our school has two ponds and an abundance of trees, I will have them perform the story outside.
Did I mention that the best part of this assignment is videotaping the students while they act and showing them the video afterward? Yes, they love watching themselves on the big screen.