You rip the October page off of the calendar and count the actual teaching days and clutch your heart. November and December are the worst and the best of months in Teacherland. The best, because there are lots of days off and lots of festivities and usually, cupcakes. The worst, because time will F-L-Y and come December,
results will be expected. Amid all of the festivities , time off, and cupcakes. How do you make it happen?
The only way I could ever get it all done well was to use fabulous literature for my reading/literacy 90 minute slot that covered the important things in the content area. In November, I always liked to start with Native Americans in literature and poetry. Children are
fascinated by the topic and are capable of the
deep thinking the stories entail. First up, my favorite Native American Cinderella story is The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin.
Just looking at the cover for a while will bring up lots of good questions. What is she looking at? Is she afraid?
Why are her hands and arms all bandaged up? What are those marks on her face from? Is she poor? Her dress is ripped up!
Now your lovely listeners are ready to hear the story. They hear about a village of people who live near a lake and live in wigwams. Included in this village, but apart from the others, is a
very large wigwam that is supposed to house the most powerful, the richest, and the handsomest man in the village....but no one has ever seen him! He is known as the Invisible Being. He lives with his sister, who quizzes any girl who tries to pretend that she has "seen" him. Only the girl who has truly seen the Invisible Being can become his bride.
The Rough-Faced-Girl has been scarred from tending the fires for her two horrible sisters. Her father is poor and she has to wear awful clothing. But she believes that she has seen the Invisible Being, and bravely goes to the wigwam of his sister, wearing her pitiful "best" and despite having scars all over her face. Her sisters have recently tried to scam the sister into believing one of them saw him, but she sees they are imposters and kicks them out.
The Rough-Faced-Girl is able to describe the Invisible Being, whom she has seen in the natural world around her. She is instructed to take a swim in the lake. When she emerges, all of her scars have vanished and she is as beautiful outside as she is inside.
She and the Invisible Being are married and paddle away together.
The illustrations in this story are not to be believed. They convey so much feeling. Along with great discussion (this story is good for grades 3-5 as well) first and second graders will identify similarities between this story and our own Cinderella, which you can post up on a Venn diagram. In their Reader's Notebooks, they can draw a part of the story that they liked and tell about what was happening then. Older students can write about how the Invisible Being's sister was able to truly see inside the Rough-Faced-Girl's heart, and not just judge her on her outside appearance.
Happy Reading and Happy November!
Till next time, Nancy