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    CM-ing the Progym: Fable Stage Examples

    February 17, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

    Now that we’ve discussed how to teach the fable stage, I think it’s a good time to share some examples. {These are all from his “final” drafts, but they still contain some errors, in case you were wondering.} It’s been a while since we’ve done this, so it was a lot of fun to go back and see how far my student’s writing has come since we first began the progym.

    An example I’m not including in this post is from the “write it shorter” variation. This is because I required no original writing for that step. My student, if you recall, took the original and crossed out all the unnecessary words, and then copied the story over in its bare-bones form. It just didn’t seem like an example was important for that variation.

    In looking at these examples, it should become obvious why going back and working with Aesop is preferable to trying to dive in and do this with normal readings from normal lessons. It isn’t that it can’t be done, but the fables are such perfectly small — yet whole — units, that they are ideal for these sorts of exercises. Once the student knows how to do the variations, doing them with longer readings isn’t that big of a deal, but I do think it’d be a lot to take in, to try and start with a lengthy passage or entire chapter, especially if the student is very young.

    Variation 1: Write it Longer

    This one is based upon The Fox and the Grapes.

    One hot summer day in a orchard, the trees were loaded with rich fruit. All the fruit was just ripening and full of rich juice. On one end of the orchard all diffrent types of grapes were trained over lofty branches. They were all almost bursting with juice.

    On all the branches birds were twittering to each other. A fox was strolling along in the orchard. his coat was a bright orangey-red color. His tail was tipped with white, and his nos was very sharp. When he saw the grapes he said, “Ah, the perfect food for a hot day.”

    He walked back a few paces and took a running jump, but missed. He tried again and again but still in vain. At last he gave up and walked of with a scornful air and said, “I am sure they are sour.”

    Variation 2:   Write it from the Perspective of One of the Characters in the Story

    This one is based upon The Hare and the Tortoise. He chose to be neither the hare, nor the tortoise, but rather the fox who was witness to the whole thing.

    One day I was walking along, when I heard a hare and tortoise talking. The hare laughed at the tortoise’s short legs and slow pace.

    The tortoise challenged the hare to a race. The hare agreed, and chose me to be the overseerer.

    When they were ready I gave the signal. The hare bounded forward, but the tortoise slowly and steadily started forward.

    As I went along I noticed that the hare was asleep. After a while the hare woke up and bounded forward. When he reached the goal he saw the tortoies already there.

    Variation 3: Invert the Sequence of Events

    Overall, this seems to be the hardest one for a student to wrap his mind around. It takes a lot of thought to tell a story backwards and still make sense! We spent a lot of time discussing what sort of words would help us join the sentences together smoothly.

    This example is based upon The Fisherman Piping.

    The fisherman said, “When I piped you would not dance, but when I stopped you do so merrily. Also you would not dance into my net.” The fish were dancing very wildly.

    He had tried to catch the fish, he had even played the flute while standing on a rock. He had come with a flute and a net to catch some fish.

    Variation 4: Write the Same Plot with Different Characters and Setting

    In this one, he took the plot of The Flies and the Honey-Pot and substituted robbers and treasure for flies and honey.

    A number of robbers had found a treasure hidden in a house. That night they snuck into the house and took the money. As they were leaving it got stuck in the door. The loud noise woke up the people in the house. The robbers were caught and sentenced to be hanged. Before they were hanged they lamented their foolishness.

     More to Come

    I’ll show more examples in the future, but these were from our earliest lessons, and are therefore extra special to me. Next time, we’ll talk about teaching the narrative stage.
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