Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reminiscing about Response to Literature...

Students gear up for the BIG state Writing CST test next week!  On Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 7th grade students will show off their writing skills in one of the following writing genres:  narrative, response to literature, persuasive, or summary.  So, to prepare, students rehearsed their skills in response to literature writing.  First, students read and annotated a Japanese folktale (Yes, keeping it cross-curricular with World Geography!), and then wrote a response to literature essay within a two-period block, practicing for the timed--yet un-timed--test (students are given extra time in one sitting if needed).  Enjoy the in-depth analysis below!


Here is an example annotated story:


Here is an example Response to Literature essay on this story:
Surprising Acts of Bravery

            Sometimes people can surprise us when they commit an act of bravery. In the Japanese folktale, “Little One Inch” by Issun Boshi, the message is: A brave person can accomplish the unexpected. Initially, Little One Inch is brave enough to venture out in the world to seek fortune after leaving his adopted parents. Secondly, he is courageous when he asks a lord he encounters for a needed job. Finally, Little One Inch demonstrates his bravery when he encounters a dangerous creature near the lord’s home.
            In the beginning of Little One Inch’s journey, he is brave enough to venture out into the unknown world to seek fortune without the help of his family. For instance, he proudly announces to his parents, “I thank you very much for raising me so carefully. But now I must go into the world and make my fortune” (1). This shows that he is brave because Little One inch is only a few inches tall and it would seem that it would be dangerous for someone of that height to venture out into a world he doesn’t know much about. I also can infer that his parents wanted to keep him at home as long as possible because they wanted him to be safe at home instead of putting his life at risk. Some people might think that he is crazy but I think that it was a good idea because now instead of his parents helping him every step of the way he can learn how to fend for himself. As a result, Little One Inch has ventured into an unknown world hoping only the best is out there for him.
            In the middle of the folktale, Little One Inch once again proves his bravery by going up to a Lord’s door and asking for a job to become a samurai for his family. For example, “So he walked boldly up to the front door and called out” (1). This shows that he is daring because not just anyone would be that brave to actually call out to the Lord. He is also brave because he had no idea if the Lord was going to welcome him or decline his offer all together. I can infer that maybe he had butterflies in his stomach from not knowing what to expect as soon as that door opened. If I were he, I would have mixed emotions like excitement and fear because it takes a lot of courage to go up to a random house and not know what to expect. In conclusion, Little One Inch didn’t receive his desired job to be a samurai but he did get a job to be the princess’ playmate, although it ends with a conflict along the way.
            In the end of Little Inch’s long journey, he is once again bold because he protects the princess from a tremendously dangerous ogre with a magical hammer. For example, “Now that the ogre’s tongue was very tender and the needle hurt very much. He was so surprised at this that he spit Little One-Inch out onto the ground and went running away” (2). This shows that Little One-Inch was bold because no one his size would try to take on a dangerous ogre in order to protect his playmate. He is so courageous he jumps into the ogre’s mouth and cuts up his tongue, which makes the ogre spit him out and run away. His bravery grants him one wish, which was to become as big as everyone else. I can infer that the theme in his actions was that actions have consequences, some bad and others good. I can infer that because of his bravery the Lord decides to hire him as a samurai warrior. Overall, Little One-Inch’s bravery leads up to a very well desired wish that brings him and the princess together after some time.
            In conclusion, the overall theme in the folktale “Little One Inch” by Issun Boshi is that a brave person can accomplish the unexpected. Obviously, Little One-Inch proves to everyone that if you are brave you can accomplish the unexpected even if they underestimate you. After reading this folktale, it has inspired me and has helped me learn that I should never underestimate a person by their size or their looks. Overall, this tale is one everyone can learn from.


Here is an example color-coded Response to Literature essay on this story:
(Students color-coded components of paragraphs such as textual evidence, commentary, etc.)
Surprising Acts of Bravery

            Sometimes people can surprise us when they commit an act of bravery. In the Japanese folktale, “Little One Inch” by Issun Boshi, the message is: A brave person can accomplish the unexpected. Initially, Little One Inch is brave enough to venture out in the world to seek fortune after leaving his adopted parents. Secondly, he is courageous when he asks a lord he encounters for a needed job. Finally, Little One Inch demonstrates his bravery when he encounters a dangerous creature near the lord’s home.
            In the beginning of Little One Inch’s journey, he is brave enough to venture out into the unknown world to seek fortune without the help of his family. For instance, he proudly announces to his parents, “I thank you very much for raising me so carefully. But now I must go into the world and make my fortune” (1). This shows that he is brave because Little One inch is only a few inches tall and it would seem that it would be dangerous for someone of that height to venture out into a world he doesn’t know much about. I also can infer that his parents wanted to keep him at home as long as possible because they wanted him to be safe at home instead of putting his life at risk. Some people might think that he is crazy but I think that it was a good idea because now instead of his parents helping him every step of the way he can learn how to fend for himself. As a result, Little One Inch has ventured into an unknown world hoping only the best is out there for him.
            In the middle of the folktale, Little One Inch once again proves his bravery by going up to a Lord’s door and asking for a job to become a samurai for his family. For example, “So he walked boldly up to the front door and called out” (1). This shows that he is daring because not just anyone would be that brave to actually call out to the Lord. He is also brave because he had no idea if the Lord was going to welcome him or decline his offer all together. I can infer that maybe he had butterflies in his stomach from not knowing what to expect as soon as that door opened. If I were he, I would have mixed emotions like excitement and fear because it takes a lot of courage to go up to a random house and not know what to expect. In conclusion, Little One Inch didn’t receive his desired job to be a samurai but he did get a job to be the princess’ playmate, although it ends with a conflict along the way.
            In the end of Little Inch’s long journey, he is once again bold because he protects the princess from a tremendously dangerous ogre with a magical hammer. For example, “Now that the ogre’s tongue was very tender and the needle hurt very much. He was so surprised at this that he spit Little One-Inch out onto the ground and went running away” (2). This shows that Little One-Inch was bold because no one his size would try to take on a dangerous ogre in order to protect his playmate. He is so courageous he jumps into the ogre’s mouth and cuts up his tongue, which makes the ogre spit him out and run away. His bravery grants him one wish, which was to become as big as everyone else. I can infer that the theme in his actions was that actions have consequences, some bad and others good. I can infer that because of his bravery the Lord decides to hire him as a samurai warrior. Overall, Little One-Inch’s bravery leads up to a very well desired wish that brings him and the princess together after some time.
            In conclusion, the overall theme in the folktale “Little One Inch” by Issun Boshi is that a brave person can accomplish the unexpected. Obviously, Little One-Inch proves to everyone that if you are brave you can accomplish the unexpected even if they underestimate you. After reading this folktale, it has inspired me and has helped me learn that I should never underestimate a person by their size or their looks. Overall, this tale is one everyone can learn from.


Here is another example color-coded Response to Literature essay on this story:

Students also posted their essays on a ThinkQuest message board to read each other's essays (indenting does not function in message boards):

  • Carolina R
    Carolina R
    Determination can help you Accomplish Many Things

    Imagine everything around you was bigger than you and everyone saw you helpless and too small. In the Japanese folk tale, “Little One-Inch” by Issun Boshi, the theme is that determination pays off in the long run. Initially, Little One-Inch is very determined because even though he is told that he is too small he still goes out into the world and tries to find a job. Secondly, he was also very strong minded when the lord gave him a job but not quite the job he wanted in the first place. Finally his determination paid off because he had saved the princess even though he was just one inch tall and he even got extra wishes granted.
    In the beginning of the story Little One-Inch is very determined to leave his family and find a job so he can get his own fortune. An example of that would be, ‘“I thank you very much for raising me so carefully. But now I must go out into the world and make my fortune”’ (1). This quote shows that he is clearly thankful but he is tired of everyone thinking he is too small and treating him differently, so he is determined to leave his home. It also shows that he thinks he is ready to go out into the world and try to make a living by himself and if he thinks that then maybe they should let him out and let him find a job. So he finally convinced his parents to let him go find a job, but first he packed a: needle, a wooden bowl, and a chopstick.
    In the middle of the story Little One-Inch has much determination because he asks a great Daimyo for a job as his samurai, but gets another job instead. He could have said no and kept on with his search for another job but he decided to take it. One example of that would be, ‘“you can come and be a playmate for my daughter, the princess”’ (2). This shows that instead of being one of the daimyo’s samurai he was hired to be a companion for his daughter who is a princess. The quote also shows that he was determined enough to actually take the job because that wasn’t the job he was hoping for. Even though he was just the princess’s play mate he still carried his needle which acted like a sword to him.
    Finally at the end of the story Little One-Inch shows that determination pays off, because an ogre wanted to catch the princess but Little One-Inch climbed on the ogre and into his mouth, cut his tongue and that caused him to run away. An example of that would be, “At that moment Little One-Inch gave a big leap and jumped right into the ogre's mouth. Then he began cutting the ogre's tongue with his sword” (3). This quote reveals that with much determination Little One-Inch protected the princess like a good samurai protects his daimyo. The quote also shows that with determination also comes bravery. Being strong minded does pay off because after all the put downs Little One-Inch had gotten by many people he stuck to his job and he got some wishes granted, all because he was determined.
    In the Japanese folk tale by Issun Boshi Little One-Inch learns that determination pays off in the long run. At the beginning Little One-Inch was determined to go on a journey to find a job all by himself and that goal became an accomplishment. In the middle of the stroy he was determined to work so he could get his own fortune. Lastly Little One-Inch had accomplished all of his goals that he wanted because he had determination all this time. Overall, just know that you can accomplish anything if you just have determination.

  • Ruby G
    Ruby G
    Every now and again people are underestimated. People think that you can’t do something because of your size or the way you look. That is exactly how it is in the Japanese folk tale “Little One Inch” by Issun Boshin, the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover. Firstly, everyone judges Little One Inch. They think he’s too small to handle himself. Secondly, he takes an adventure out to place he’s never been. Lastly, he encounters a deathly beast.
    In the beginning everyone judges Little One Inch. They think that just because he is really small that he can’t protect himself. Little One Inch wants to venture out into the world but his parents don’t want him to leave. Like when it says, “They tried to keep him from going, saying he was too tiny to go out into the world” (1). That shows that Little One Inch’s parents underestimated his ability to do things on his own. He is a grown up guy. He should be able to go out and have an adventure of his own. His parents give in but what may happen to Little One Inch now?
    During the middle Little One Inch takes a rice bowl for a boat and a chop stick for an oar. His parents finally let him have journey of his own. Then when he’s there he almost drowns! For an example, “He floated for many, many miles, and then suddenly his boat was turned over. It was a frog in the river that had hit the boat. Little One-Inch was a very good swimmer” (1). This shows that even though Little One Inch is small he overcame a big animal bigger than him! The frog tipped his boat over but he didn’t drown. This also shows that people thought he couldn’t handle the dangers of going out on his own but it looks like to me that he is strong enough to take care of himself. Little One Inch swims all the way to the great lord’s palace. Little One Inch wants to get hired but what if the emperor underestimates him or what if doesn’t hire him because of his size?
    Near the ending Little One inch shows the emperor his needle (sword). The emperor believes Little One that he is a good fighter and can help protect the palace. The emperor says that he would be perfect for the princess’s play date. The emperor underestimated Little One Inch. He didn’t want Little One Inch to be a warrior or a samurai he wanted him to be a play date for the princess. Like when it says, “The lord was very amused to hear a tiny boy use such bold words. ‘All right, all right," he said, "you can come and be a playmate for my daughter, the princess’ (2). This shows that the emperor doesn’t think that Little One Inch can be a good warrior. Instead he thinks that he would be better at a play date for the princess. The princess and Little One Inch became really good friends but one day an evil ogre came walking around. For an example, “At that moment Little One-Inch gave a big leap and jumped right into the ogre's mouth. Then he began cutting the ogre's tongue with his sword. Now the ogre's tongue was very tender and the needle hurt very much. He was so surprised at this that he spit Little One-Inch out onto the ground and went running away. He even dropped his magic hammer.” This shows that Little One Inch is stronger than he appeared to be. The emperor thought that he couldn’t defeat the ogre. But he did.
    All in all Little One Inch proved to everyone that just because you may not appear to be tall or big but he could still accomplish the unthinkable. He defeated a beast 20 times his size! So that proves that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Or by the way they look or appear to be.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Who will be the next SAMURAI?

Pretending to be samurai from medieval Japan, students compete for a job as the next samurai for "Daimyo Lukins"!  In order to get the job, each student must use their creativity, ingenuity, and convincing reasoning to make themselves stand out amongst the other 100 samurai applying for the job.  How do they do it?  They have four tasks:  write a persuasive letter, write a job resume, create a decorative and eye-catching mask/helmet, and recite their "Top 3 SKills" on video dressed in costume!  (Check out my web site for full project details here!) Enjoy some of the applicant's submissions below:
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Students posted all of their work from the Samurai Project on ThinkQuest.org: