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        Math + Arts | Jack & the Giants: Jack Spends His Pay

        In this lesson, students will create and solve word problems involving money (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of decimals), and develop a script for a short scene and perform it using the elements of performance.

        Lesson Summary

        There are three options for this lesson, depending on class needs and time available:

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): students will watch storytellers tell a story to a group of students and discuss how the tellers used performance elements to create characters and indicate imaginary props.

        2. Short hands-on activity: students will solve a math problem involving money (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of decimals). They will create a word problem, solve it, and present their findings through a short, improvised scene.

        3. Project: students will create and solve word problems, develop a script for a short scene using dialect, and perform it using the elements of performance, specifically acting, speaking, and nonverbal expression.

        Time Allotment

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): one class period

        2. Short hands-on activity: 1 class periods

        3. Project: 5 class periods

        Learning Objectives


        I can create and solve word problems involving decimals (money).

        Arts and Humanities

        I can identify how a storyteller uses voice, body, and imagination to communicate character and indicate imaginary props.

        I can respond to drama using the format of a critique.

        I can participate in a group pantomime.

        I can collaborate with my peers to improvise a short scenario.

        I can collaborate with my peers to create and perform a new scene for an existing folk tale.

        Prep for Teachers

        Elements of drama fall into three categories:

        Literary elements: script, plot structures (beginning, middle, end), language (word choice/style used to create character, dialect)

        Technical elements: scenery (set), sound, props

        Performance elements: acting (character) speaking (vocal expression, dialect), and nonverbal expression (facial expression, body movement)

        Traditional storytellers make minimal use of technical elements and focus on literary elements and performance elements. The focus in this lesson is on language (dialect), and nonverbal expression (facial expression, body movement).




        Drama handouts

        Media Resources

        Telling Tales: Jack and the Giants

        Introductory Activity

        Students should have been introduced to decimals and understand that dollars and cents are an application of decimals. Make sure that they know where Appalachia is located and that they realize that Appalachia has a distinctive culture, including many folktales.

        Learning Activities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection

        Tell students they are going to watch a tandem team (two storytellers) tell a Jack Tale. Ask how many remember the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” What other Jack Tales do they know? Explain that Jack Tales originated in the British Isles about seven centuries ago and came to America with the early settlers. In the Appalachian Mountains, the stories blended with Native American, African, and other European stories to become Appalachian stories. Explain that one purpose of storytelling is to pass on traditions to the next generation.

        Tell them they are going to watch a tandem team tell “Jack and the Giants.” Point out that traditional storytellers do not use technical elements of theater like props or scenery to tell their stories. Instead, they rely on using the performance elements of acting, speaking, and nonverbal expression. A storyteller uses his voice, body movement, and facial expressions to help listeners “see” the scenery and props in their imaginations. Ask students to list the imaginary props and to notice if the tellers use standard or non-standard English.

        After viewing the story, share the list of imaginary props. Ask students to mimic the way that Jack pantomimed shooting through a pea shooter. Ask them to imitate the movement and facial expression of the giant who was hit. Then ask them to mimic Jack taking a mirror from his sack and giving it to the daddy giant. Ask them to imitate the giant looking at himself in the mirror.

        Tell students that the tellers were using Appalachian dialect to tell a traditional Appalachian story. Ask them to identify some words or phrases that were not standard English. Ask them if they noticed any elements of the story that related to the origin of the stories in the British Isles (the king, princess, and castle).

        Responding to Drama: Project and discuss the Responding to Drama handout. If needed, remind students that opinions will vary and being able to discuss opinions in a supportive manner is an important skill to develop.

        Follow-up Pantomime Activity: Have students stand in a circle. Tell them you are going to throw an imaginary ball to a student, who should catch it and throw it on to another student, who will pass it on, etc. The ball should be passed to a student who has not caught it before. They will be able to judge the size and weight of the ball by your movements and should use similar movements as they pass the ball. You will indicate who you are going to pass to by looking at them. Start the imaginary ball in motion and allow it several passes before you interrupt and tell them that as they keep catching and throwing the original ball, you are going to add a second ball (and then a third) of a different size and weight. Get the second and third balls started around the circle and see how long students can maintain passing all three balls.

        Short Activity

        Inform students that a long time ago, gold coins were used as currency. There was not a standard currency like we have today. It would have been difficult for Jack to “count” his gold. You are going to modernize the tale. (Point out that folktales often change to reflect the changes in culture and society.) In your version, Jack is going to be paid in cash. He will receive $ 4,560.30 for the youngest giant, $5,897.25 for each twin, and $8,367.80 for the daddy giant. (Modify the amounts to fit the needs of your class). If Jack buys a car for $12,348.62, how much will he have left?

        Divide the class into small groups and have each group work the problem and then improvise a scene in which Jack adds up all his money and then goes to a car dealership to test drive and purchase a new car. Each student in the group should be involved in the improvisation. They can play roles as Jack’s family or friends or salespeople at the car dealership. After the purchase, Jack counts his remaining money and dreams about what to buy next. Tell the groups that they should include at least three imaginary props in their improvisations. If class time does not allow each group to perform for the whole class, allow time for groups to perform for each other.


        Each group will create a new scene for the story “Jack and the Giants.” Based on the original story, each team will include the characters Jack and the king. The story will begin with the king paying Jack (in dollars and cents). Assign each group to come up with one or more word problems about how much money the king gave to Jack and how much he spent. Explain your expectations for the complexity of the math in the word problems. You could, for example, specify that the king will pay Jack in 2-3 installments and that Jack has to hold back some of his money each time that he makes a purchase.

        Day One: Introduce the project and divide the class into teams. Explain that students will receive two scores. One will be based on solving the problems. The second will be based on their efforts to be effective storyteller/actors.

        Pass out or project the math handout and discuss the expectations for the word problems.

        Pass out or project the "Storytelling Scoring Guide." Explain that every member of the team is expected to actively participate in acting out the scene that they create. Go over the scoring guide and demonstrate what is meant by “nervous behavior” (slouching against the wall, fiddling, etc.).

        Tell students their first step will be to determine the characters that will be in the scene and who will play each role. They should have one person play Jack and one play the king. They can have a narrator who tells the story while others act it out. (You can make this optional or a requirement. It sometimes helps to have a narrator to keep the story moving along.) The other characters can be family or friends, storekeepers, salespeople, etc.

        Project the Character Chart and lead students in filling in information about Jack. Then, give each team as many character charts as they need to develop the characters that will be in their scenes. They should complete the character charts by the end of the class period.

        Day Two: Warm up with "The Tools of a Storyteller: Body." Tell groups their task for the day is to develop two (or more) word problems for their stories. By the end of the class period, each team should have developed the problems and the solutions. Circulate as students work to make sure their work encompasses the appropriate math and is accurate.

        Day Three: Warm up with "The Tools of the Storyteller: Voice." Lead a discussion about dialect. If students are familiar with the Appalachian dialect (or another dialect used in your community), they can incorporate that dialect into their story. If not, they might discuss as a group what idioms they use in their everyday speech that are nonstandard English that they would like to incorporate into their stories.Groups will begin to develop their scripts, improvising movement and voice as the story develops.

        Day Four: The task for the day is to complete scripts and rehearse performances.

        Day Five: Groups take turns performing their scenes. The groups in the audience are tasked with solving the word problems in the story. They should record their solutions on paper to hand in at the end of the performance. After all the performances, allow students time to check their math and time to score their own performances using the "Storytelling Scoring Guide." You could also assign them to score a peer.

        Program Review

        Where does this fit in? How should you document it?

        This activity contributes to your school’s overall efforts in art programming in several areas, depending on whether you implement just the Frame, Focus, and Reflection portion or you implement the entire project.

        Document with lesson plan and samples of student-generated problems and scripts. If possible, record performances or take pictures of performances.

        Curriculum and Instruction: Aligned and Rigorous Curriculum

        a) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum encompasses creating, performing, and responding and is fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards?

        b) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum provides for the development of arts literacy in all four arts discipline and also utilizes the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts?

        c) To what extent does the school ensure that the school’s curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas?

        d) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of dance, music, theater, and visual arts from a variety of artists, cultural traditions, and historical periods?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Strategies

        a) To what extent do teachers systematically incorporate all three components of arts study: creating, performing, and responding into the arts?

        b) To what extent do teachers provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills?

        c) To what extent do arts teachers provide for the development of artistic theory, skills, and techniques through the development of student performances or products that are relevant and developmentally appropriate for students?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Student Performance

        a) To what extent are students actively engaged in creating, performing, and responding to the arts?

        b) To what extent do students identify a purpose and generate original and varied art works or performances that are highly expressive with teacher guidance?

        c) To what extent do students, with teacher guidance, routinely use creative, evaluative, analytical, and problem solving skills in developing and/or reflecting in their artistic performances and products?

        d) To what extent do students use written and verbal communication to objectively reflect on exemplary exhibits and live or technologically provided performances as classroom assignments?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Assessments

        a) To what extent do teachers utilize formative and summative arts assessments for individual students and performing groups that are clearly aligned with the components of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards; authentically measure a specific concept, understanding and/or skill; and lead to student growth?

        b) To what extent do teachers guide students to use developmentally or grade level appropriate peer review and critique to evaluate each other’s work?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Expectations for Student Learning

        a) To what extent do teachers utilize exemplar/models to encourage students to demonstrate characteristics of rigorous work in the appropriate art form in most instructional lessons/units.

        b) To what extent do teachers share clearly defined rubrics or scoring guides with students before creating, performing, or responding assignments or other assessments; and students have the opportunity to provide input into the scoring guide?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Assessment for Teaching

        To what extent do students regularly reflect on, critique and evaluate the artistic products and performances of others and themselves as is grade level and age appropriate?


        Lesson Creators: Octavia Sexton, Emily Jackson, Dean Cornett, Dawn Hibbard, and Judy Sizemore


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