Split Ends





Story Frames and Response Journals

Two Paths to the Same Goal



Story Frames


            Story frames play an integral role in helping students to develop both their reading and writing skills. This format provides them with an outline for writing a story, based on what they have learned from reading, or listening to a text. By utilizing the story frame they are able to not only construct new knowledge, but better understand what they already know The concomitant organizing and meaning making that attends this strategy insures that the skills will not be taught in isolation; rather, they are all part of a holistic approach to process and product.


Why did the chicken cross the road?


To show the deer how to correctly do it.


Modeling is an important first step in the implementation of this approach. The teacher begins by rereading a familiar story. When the story is finished, the instructor reads the story frame aloud, and then asks for student volunteers to read portions of it. Next, he/she has the students fill out this practice story frame.  After they have finished, allow the students to interact as they discuss their frames. Finally, recreate the filled-in story frame on chart paper, to be used as a focal point for future reference.

            The story I chose for the story frame lesson, “Bubba and Trixie” by Lisa Campbell Ernst has an imaginative, well-organized story-line. The plot revolves around the unlikely friendship between a nervous, timid caterpillar named Bubba, and Trixie, an assertive lady bug with a damaged wing. It also contains the universal theme of friends helping each other achieve their dreams. Children strongly identify with this theme and generally react to the story in a positive way. The combination of these indelible characters, timeless moral lesson, and inventive scenario makes “Bubba and Trixie” a good prospect for not only a story frame, but the character journal that follows.

Part 1

The Story Frame

Story Summary with Two Characters Included

Our story is about a timid caterpillar named Bubba, and a wing-damaged  lady bug named Trixie. Trixie  helps Bubba to come out of his shell, and Bubba repays her by helping her achieve her dream.

The story ends when Bubba, now a beautiful butterfly, is able to overcome his timidity and fly. At the same time, he helps Trixie to achieve her dream of flying, by carrying her on his back, as they soar almost to the stars.


Important Idea or Plot

In this story, the problem starts when Bubba is too frightened to leave the leaf to which he is clinging. After that, Trixie gradually coaxes Bubba to jump with her into a pile of soft, Corsican mints and together, they begin to explore the garden world. Next, Trixie reveals that her one dream is to be able to fly. Bubba replies that his one dream is that nothing should ever change between the two buddies; that they should remain friends forever. But Trixie knows he will turn into a butterfly, and she has much more to do to increase Bubba’s courage. Then, winter approaches. Without knowing why, Bubba spins a cocoon around himself and goes to sleep. Trixie crawls under a leaf, and she too begins her winter slumber.

The problem is finally solved in the spring when Bubba emerges as a beautiful butterfly and with Trixie’s encouragement, tests his wings. The story ends with a bold Bubba, with Trixie on his back, soaring high into the sky.



 This story takes place in a garden. I know this because the author uses the words “She waved at the brilliant garden” and “she marched Bubba through the garden.” A clue that tells when the story takes place is when they author writes, “the summer slowly unfolded.”


Character Analysis

An important character in the story is Bubba. I think that (character’s name) Bubba is (character trait) scared and timid because he is fearful of ladybugs, and hopping, and leaving his leaf and flying. Another important character is (character’s name) Trixie. I think Trixie is  (character trait)  helpful and loyal because she  remains Bubba’s friend as she encourages him  to leave his leaf and live a fuller life.


            The story frame is designed to allow the children to gradually and sequentially delineate the events and character traits found in the text. I believe that the organized nature of the story frame will enable the students to attain a deeper understanding of the story by allowing the child to witness and document these changes in an organized fashion. This will increase their knowledge of the author’s craft, while they enhance their comprehension of the text. 


Part 2

Response Journal


             A Response Journal is a medium designed to metamorphize the organized, outlined information contained in the story frame into a written artifact. This writing format allows the child to react freely and spontaneously to the previously read text, revealing many inner thoughts, feelings, and connections, without being unduly constricted by spelling and grammar conventions. This approach leads to fresh discoveries and novel interpretations of the narrative.  It also increases understanding, and deepens the child's comprehension of the material.   The form that I have chosen is is a Character Journal. Here, the writer/reader adopts the persona of a character in the narrative, responding from the character’s point of view. I chose this option since the characters in this story are distinctly drawn and strikingly presented. Their individual traits, ranging from fearful (Bubba), to assertive, loyal and brave (Trixie) are clearly defined and sequentially developed. I also believe that the children will enthusiastically relate to the theme of friends helping each other. Therefore, it will be easy for the students to step into either character, and discover greater insights from the story. 

            Writing after reading is a productive avenue for increasing comprehension of the text, as well as helping the students construct new knowledge  It also leads to fresh discoveries and novel interpretations of the narrative. Research has confirmed the strong connection between reading and writing. Readers and writers use similar strategies, as they construct meaning through print. We find this in the related processes stages they engage in, such as responding (reading) - revising (writing), and applying (reading) - publishing (writing). Furthermore, both writer and reader are cued by previous experiences, as well as the form, purpose of the author, and intended audience, as it relates to their product. It does not take too great a leap, therefore, to conclude that “reading contributes to writing development, and writing contributes to reading development.” Simply put, the more students write, the more they understand what they have read. Hence, it behooves the teacher to imbue in the students the idea that they should write with the sense of a reader and read with the sense of a writer.

            The combination of a story frame and a response journal, to be used in conjunction with a well-organized story is a perfect way to meld these two genres into a result in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 




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