Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Express Yourself

Laurie Ayers
Bay District Schools


This language arts lesson is for Days 9-10 of the unit [Native Americans]. Students will practice speaking to a small group about their favorite part of a Native American tale. Peer partners will assess each other's performances.


The student uses volume, phrasing, and intonation appropriate for different situations (for example, large or small group settings, sharing oral stories, dramatic activities).

The student speaks for different purposes (for example, informing, entertaining, expressing ideas).

The student uses eye contact and appropriate gestures to enhance oral presentations.


-Book: [Rat is Dead and Ant is Sad], by Betty Baker, Harper and Row Publishers, 1981,ISBN 0-06-020346-3
-Book: [The Story of Jumping Mouse] retold by John Steptoe, William Morrow & Co., Inc. NY, 1984, ISBN 0-688-08740-X
-Drawing paper, one per student
-Crayons or markers, one set per student
-Rubric for Speaking (see extensions), one per student
-Rubric for Speaking (see extensions), one copy to be posted in classroom
-Students will need pencils when completing the Rubric for Speaking for their partner
-Floor length mirror


1. Download and make copies of the Rubric for Speaking, one per student (see extensions).
2. Gather materials.
3. Devise method for grouping students into small groups of 4 or 6. The number of students in each group needs to be an even number.
4. Devise a way to pair students within small groups.
5. If not previously done in language arts Lesson 4, [Practice Makes Perfect], arrange a time with the media specialist for students to display their artwork and speak to small groups of other second graders about their artwork on Day 14.
6. If not previously done in Language Arts Lesson 4, [Practice Makes Perfect], inform one or more other second grade teacher(s) of the date and time of the artwork display and invite them to bring their class(es) to view the artwork. Also, explain that the purpose of the event is to provide practice in speaking to small groups. Ask the other teachers to encourage their students to ask questions.

Note: If more than one class comes to view the display, be sure to make a schedule for them to follow so the viewers will be in small groups.


Note: In this lesson, effective speaking skills previously introduced on Day 2 will be reviewed and practiced. Students will later use these same skills to perform Summative Assessment 3.

1. The teacher attractively displays the two books [Rat is Dead and Ant is Sad] by Betty Baker and [The Story of Jumping Mouse] retold by John Steptoe.
Note: If these two books are not available, the teacher may substitute two other Native American tales or legends that are readily available.

2. Ask students “What do you think these books have in common? How are they alike?”

3. Take the students through a picture walk of the books. Students look at the pictures in the books and predict what they think is happening.

4. Read the two books. Discuss the main ideas, plot, and characters of each.

5. Remind students that they have been learning about effective speaking skills.

6. Review the criteria for effective speaking listed in the Rubric for Speaking (see extensions) posted in the classroom.

7. Explain that sometimes we speak to small groups and sometimes we speak to large groups. Tell students that during the next few days they will practice speaking to a small group.

8. Ask how speaking to a small group might be different from speaking to a large group.

9. Guide students in determining that one’s volume doesn’t have to be as loud when speaking to a small group, but that the other criteria (phrasing, tone, eye contact, and gestures) should still be practiced.

10. Invite students to think about the two books and decide which tale they enjoyed most.
Allow time for students to think and discuss.

11. Tell students they are to go back to their desks, choose one of the stories, and draw a picture about the part they enjoyed most. They are to put their name and the title of the book at the top of their paper. (The teacher writes the titles of the books on the board.)

12. Explain that tomorrow you will divide them into small groups. Then they will share their favorite parts with a small group using effective speaking skills.

13. The teacher hands out drawing paper and allows time for students to draw and color a picture of the part of the book they enjoyed most. Upon completion, the teacher takes up the papers and stores them for the next day’s follow-up activity.

Day 10
1. Briefly review the two stories read on Day 9 by asking student volunteers to summarize them.

2. Explain that today students will share their pictures and discuss their favorite part with others in a small group.

3. Divide the students into small groups of 4 or 6 (there needs to be an even number in each group). Then pair each student with a partner.

4. Explain that partners will assess each other using the Rubric for Speaking (see extensions).

5. Students take turns sharing their pictures and speaking to their group about their pictures. The speaker’s partner assesses him using the Rubric for Speaking.

6. The teacher roves around the room to observe performances. She uses her observations to provide formative feedback. She also notes any student who is having difficulty with the task in order to provide additional practice if necessary. Feedback should be both positive (Great job! You had terrific eye contact.) and guiding (Next time try to remember to put more tone in your voice.). Extra practice will be provided for those students who have difficulty with this task.

7. When everyone has had a turn, allow time for the partners to share their formative feedback.

8. Finally, review effective strategies for speaking to a small group. Emphasize the need to reduce volume as compared to speaking to a large group and the need to incorporate phrasing, tone, eye contact, and gestures.

9. Tell students they will have their final assessment on speaking to a small group on Day 14 of the unit.

10. Encourage those who feel they need more practice to do so in front of the floor length mirror you have displayed in your classroom. If there is not a mirror in your classroom, encourage students to practice at home.


Students are paired. Students will speak to their small group about their favorite part of a book. As each student speaks, his partner assesses his performance using the criteria on the Rubric for Speaking (see extensions). After everyone in the group has spoken, the students pair up with their partners and share their feedback. The teacher also observes student performances in regard to criteria on the Rubric for Speaking and provides formative feedback.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL:
Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2. Other appropriate Native American legends or tales that the teacher has at her disposal may be substituted for the ones suggested in the Materials list.

Web Links

This is an online Student Web Lesson that introduces various Native American culture groups.
Different Tribes, Different Times

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