K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify the elements of a fable.
  • dissect fables.
  • write an original fable.
  • produce a dramatic presentation of their original fable.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 week


Critical Vocabulary Activity Materials:

  • A list of Critical Vocabulary words and definitions for each group
  • A copy of the Vocabulary Cube Directions for each group
  • 5 copies of the Cube Template for each group
  • A variety of colored pencils for each group
  • 1 glue stick for each group
  • 5 pieces of string for each group
  • 1 coat hanger for each group

Fable Supplies:

  • Various Fables (one for each group of students) - (I have attached a website with a variety from which you can choose)
  • 2 copies of each attached graphic organizer (Graphic Organizer 1 and Graphic Organizer 2) for each group
  • 2 copies of the Fable Rubric for each group (one for the groups for peer assessment and one for the teacher to assess the groups)
  • 2 copies of the Presentation Rubric for each group (one for the groups to prepare and one for the teacher to assess the groups)
  • A transparency of one of the attached graphic organizers
  • An overhead pen

Technology resources

  • Overhead Projector
  • Word Processor (optional)


Brainstorm the parts of a story with students. A review of the parts of a story (i.e. characters, setting, rising action, conflict, falling action, resolution, etc.) will need to be conducted prior to this lesson.

To review the Critical Vocabulary with the students use the Vocabulary Cube strategy included with this lesson:

  • Put students into groups of five. Distribute all Critical Vocabulary Activity Materials to each group (see above in materials section).
  • Each group is responsible for creating a mobile that exhibits the five Critical Vocabulary Words (The directions for this activity are included in the Vocabulary Cube Directions).


Day 1

  1. The teacher begins Day 1 of this lesson by discussing the definition of a fable with the students. (Fable: a fictitious story or tale, intended to instruct some useful truth or to amuse.) That discussion must involve that fables are different from other stories because they teach a lesson or moral. Ask students to identify fables that are familiar to them and the morals of those fables.
  2. Read a fable with your class. I recommend “The Hare and the Tortoise”, but any fable will work. Depending on the level of students in your classroom, it could be read aloud by the teacher, the students, or both.
  3. Make a transparency of Graphic Organizer 1 or Graphic Organizer 2 and use it to dissect “The Hare and the Tortoise” (or the fable that you have chosen) with the class. This dissection should be done with input from the students. This will be an opportunity for you to assess prior knowledge about the parts of a story/fable for your students. I have attached an Example of what a Fable Dissection chart for “The Hare and the Tortoise” might look like. Also, discuss the moral of this story and how it fits with the story’s conflict and resolution.
  4. Divide your students into groups of three to four students. Assign each group a fable.
  5. Give each group of students a copy of both graphic organizers. Instructions for students: Read the fable that you have been assigned within your group. Then, choose one of the graphic organizers to dissect this fable. Be sure to identify each element of the fable in your graphic organizer.
  6. Have students exchange their assigned fable and their group’s completed graphic organizer with another group. Instructions for students: Review the new fable and completed graphic organizer and make any changes that you feel are necessary.
  7. Then, ask students to meet with the group they exchanged with and discuss the fable dissections. They should note any disagreements in identifying the elements of the fables.
  8. Have students return to their original groups and discuss the moral of their assigned fable. Does the moral relate well to the conflict and resolution of the story? If not, what might be a better moral?

Day 2

  1. Review the elements of a fable as well as the role of the moral in the fable with the entire class. This can be done orally or can be done in the form of a quiz.
  2. Have student return to their groups from the previous day. Each group needs a copy of each of the graphic organizers from Day 1. Instructions for students: You are going to create an original fable. Using one of the blank graphic organizers brainstorm how you might include each element of a fable in your original fable. Be sure to include each element.
  3. Once groups have brainstormed and have a plan for how they will include each story element they should begin writing their original fable. This can be handwritten or typed depending on the availability of technology in your school.

Day 3

  1. At this point groups should have a completed original fable. If students did not finish composing their original fable on Day 2 they will need to do so before continuing.
  2. Once groups have a fable they should exchange with other groups for peer edit. Each group needs a copy of the Fable Rubric (see attached to download and print - Rubric-Fable.htm). This will be the same rubric that the teacher will use for assessment at the end of this lesson. Students should fill out the rubric for the fable that they are peer editing.
  3. Rubrics and fables should be returned to the original groups so they can make corrections and alterations to their fable.

Day 4

Student groups need to plan for the presentation of their original fable to the class. Each group should receive a copy of the Presentation Rubric. Students will spend this class period planning and rehearsing.

Day 5

Each group will present their fable to the class. Students are responsible for watching their classmates’ performance and then critiquing it based on the elements of a fable.


There will be three assessments throughout this five day plan:

  1. The fable dissection charts that will be completed in groups. The teacher is determining if students can correctly identify the elements of the fable.
  2. The original fable that will be written by the groups will be assessed by the teacher using the “Original Fable Rubric.” This assessment will determine that students can apply their understanding of fable elements in the creation of an original story.
  3. The Fable Presentation will be assessed using the Presentation Rubric. It is through this assessment that teachers will assess the students’ ability to retell a story through dramatic performance.

Supplemental information


  • Implement group work for the purpose of collaboration among students.
  • Use a hands-on strategy for critical vocabulary development
  • Use a graphic organizer for fable dissection

Alternative assessments

  • Provide Graphic organizers for fable dissection (see attached to download and print - #1 Graphic Organizer.htm and #2 Graphic Organizer.htm)
  • Teacher edits English Language Learner’s fable as a part of the writing process.
  • Modified Rubric Presentation

Critical vocabulary

  • fable
  • exposition
  • conflict
  • resolution
  • moral


The accommodations included for English Language Learners are accommodations that can benefit all students and should be considered for low level learners as well.

This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 7
          • 7.RL.3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 7

  • Goal 5: The learner will respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes.
    • Objective 5.01: Increase fluency, comprehension, and insight through a meaningful and comprehensive reading program by:
      • using effective reading strategies to match type of text.
      • reading self-selected literature and other materials of individual interest.
      • reading literature and other materials selected by the teacher.
      • assuming an active role in teacher-student conferences.
      • engaging in small group discussions.
      • taking an active role in whole class seminars.
      • analyzing the effects on texts of such literary devices as figuarative language, dialogue, flashback, allusion, and irony.
      • analyzing the effects of such elements as plot, theme, point of view, characterization, mood, and style.
      • analyzing themes and central ideas in literature and other texts in relation to personal issues/experiences.
      • extending understanding by creating products for different purposes, different audiences and within various contexts.
      • analyzing the connections of relationships between and among characters, ideas, concepts, and/or experiences.
    • Objective 5.02: Study the characteristics of literary genres (fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry) through:
      • reading a variety of literature and other text (e.g., mysteries, novels, science fiction, historical documents, newspapers, skits, lyric poems).
      • analyzing what effect genre specific characteristics have on the meaning of the work.
      • analyzing how the author's choice and use of a genre shapes the meaning of the literary work.
      • analyzing what impact literary elements have on the meaning of the text such as the influence of setting on the problem and its resolution.
  • Goal 6: The learner will apply conventions of application of grammar and language usage.
    • Objective 6.01: Model an understanding of conventional written and spoken expression by:
      • using a variety of sentences correctly, punctuating them properly, and avoiding fragments and run-ons.
      • using subject-verb agreement and verb tense that are appropriate for the meaning of the sentence.
      • applying the parts of speech to clarify language usage.
      • using pronouns correctly, including clear antecedents and correct case.
      • using phrases and clauses correctly, including proper punctuation (e.g., prepositional phrases, appositives, dependent and independent clauses).
      • determining the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary words using context clues, a dictionary, a glossary, a thesaurus, and/or structural analysis (roots, prefixes, suffixes) of words.
      • extending vocabulary knowledge by learning and using new words.
      • determining when and where dialects and standard/nonstandard English usage are appropriate.
      • applying language conventions and usage during oral presentations.
      • choosing language that is precise, engaging, and well suited to the topic and audience.
      • experimenting with figurative language and speech patterns.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 7

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.01: Analyze and evaluate the quality of communication, language usage, literacy, and media techniques that are presented orally with assistance.
    • Objective 0.01: Use moderately complex grammar structures in oral expression.
    • Objective 0.01: Demonstrate some proficiency in note-taking using a variety of organizational strategies.
    • Objective 0.02: Draw conclusions based on evidence, reasons, and relevant information with assistance.
    • Objective 0.03: Recognize basic dialectical differences.
    • Objective 0.03: Analyze the use of literary devices as defined by grade-level competencies with limited assistance.
    • Objective 0.03: Demonstrate the use of figurative language and idioms with occasional errors that obscure meaning.
    • Objective 0.04: Analyze and evaluate the purpose of figurative and idiomatic language in grade-level texts with limited assistance.
    • Objective 0.04: Use of more complex language structures with errors that occasionally obscure meaning (e.g., subject-verb agreement, appositives, clauses, etc.).
    • Objective 0.05: Increase oral reading fluency and decoding new vocabulary using a variety of genres.
    • Objective 0.05: Write to a variety of audiences using different styles with limited assistance.