Standards and Objective
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
As you listen to Winnie-The-Pooh, you may think about the pictures in your mind about Winnie-The-Pooh, as drawn by animators from Disney. The narrator in this story begins by talking about Christopher Robin’s swan, Pooh. Winnie-The-Pooh borrows the name because the bear, Edward, wants a new name. Christopher Robin doesn’t actually explain why the bear has a name that is usually for girls. This theme happens throughout Winnie-The-Pooh. Christopher tells the narrator to tell stories to Pooh about himself. When he doesn’t understand, he asks questions, usually on behalf of Pooh Bear. As you listen, think about. Is Winnie-The-Pooh really hoping to hear the stories or is Christopher Robin? Which one of them is REALLY confused?
- Is Winnie-The-Pooh really hoping to hear the stories or is Christopher Robin? Which one of them is REALLY confused?
- When does the story become about storytelling (an introduction) and when does it change into more of a bedtime story or almost a fable?
- Why does the storyteller include Christopher Robin in a story about Winnie-The-Pooh?
- Why does Christopher Robin worry that he hurt Pooh after he heard the story?
Play Winnie-The-Pooh (Listen to the introduction and first story).
After listening to the story, remind students that Christopher Robin was a boy with a lot of questions, but when he was asked a question, like why the bear was named Winnie-The-Pooh, he didn’t give a very straight answer. Can they recall any other questions in the story?
Offer wait time for students to formulate responses. Remember that students who have language delays or are new to English may need additional wait time, so pause before accepting answers from any student. It is just as important that the students hear the questions others ask as it is that they contribute their own response.
Play “The Question Game” with the class. Tell them they can ask about details in the story, but when they answer, they have to ask another question (not a declarative statement), to keep the conversation rolling. Have the students stand up. If they don’t ask a question as a response, they have to sit down. For example (but remember that the conversation could take a different path with each group of students):
Teacher: Would you like to play the question game?
Students: Yes! (Not as a question.)
Teacher: Would you all sit down? Haven’t you played this before? Did you know you have to ask a question back instead of giving me an answer? Would you please stand again so we can start over?
Student(s): How do we play??
Teacher: Did you know that if you answer in and don’t ask a question, you are out and have to sit down? Now, does anyone know where Winnie-The-Pooh takes place?
Student(s): Wasn’t it in England? (Not, “England!”)
Teacher: How do we know he/she is correct?
Student: Didn’t they go to the London zoo?
Teacher: Do you remember anything about the balloons?
Student(s): Weren’t there different colors? Wasn’t one green?
Teacher: Which one did Pooh use to be a cloud? (Continue as time allows.)
Extensions and Variations
Students who are easily frustrated or extremely competitive may need an alternative task to avoid feeling left out, such as playing the story back to find “tie-breakers” or research answers to details about the story. Once students understand the concept of the game, it can be used with a variety of audiobooks. In fact, each story in Winnie-The-Pooh could be reviewed with the question game.
The real stuffed toys owned by Christopher Robin Milne from Winnie-The-Pooh are on display in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (formerly the New York Public Library Main Branch) in New York.
About the Common Core
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) lay out very specific listening requirements, by grade, as part of a dedicated strand for speaking and listening skills. The standards specify the use of ‘other media’ within the standards, e.g., “CCSS.ELA-Literacy 3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.”
Listening is placed on equal footing with reading, writing and speaking. And for those tempted to just pair audio with visual text, that approach is common and valid with emerging readers, but not what the standards intend.
The CCSS also requires students to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. Audio books can act as an important scaffold that allows students to read above their actual reading level.
Learn more at www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy.