Unit Title: Student Worlds Student Words: Teaching Writing through Folklore
By: Steph Friebohle

Prefatory Statement: Folklore is all around us influencing the way we do everything in our lives from what we name our children to the games we teach them to play. People have been changing and adding to folklore for generations and the interpretations of stories and customs is constantly changing. It is a subject that is constantly talked about and influenced, therefore the performance package for this unit deals with looking at how it is influenced and having students identify and write about how their own cultures and perspectives are influencing folklore.

Through this three-week unit the questions "How has folklore influenced my life?" What role does culture play in folklore?" and "How do different types of folklore express perspectives of the cultures they represent?" will be explored and hopefully answered.

Folklore lends itself to writing very easily. Students tend to enjoy writing and do a better job on assignments when they are about a topic students know a lot about and are interested in. Because folklore is essentially about them, students already have a large amount of background information and a huge interest in the topic. Students will be using their own lives as the topic of their papers. Issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and social justice will be highly prevalent in the students' writing and discussions allowing them to look not only at how their perspective is influenced by folklore, but how folklore has influenced their classmate's perspectives as well.

Class Specification: This unit is designed for students in grades 8 and 9 but could easily be adapted to fit any classroom or age group. It is especially interesting when used in a culturally diverse classroom where several diverse cultural viewpoints will be expressed that would not be present in a non-diverse classroom.

Objectives/ Minnesota Standards: The Students will have met middle level content standards in area two of write and speak; Writing:
2. A student shall demonstrate a narrative including
A. A description of events from direct experience or observation
B. Use of relevant detail and figurative language to create an image of setting, characters, and events.
C. Dialogue between characters; and
D. A sequence of events or ideas leading to a logical ending; and
3. An idea or opinion that:
A. Gives a rationale that includes reasons to support or oppose the opinion;
B. Uses evidence to support the idea; and
C. Has correct spelling and mechanics.

By the end of the unit students will also have learned:
A. The benefits of using the 5 stages of the writing process
B. The influence of folklore on perspectives
C. The role of folklore in different cultures
D. Critical analyses of how and why people do things
E. Techniques for response to group members' writing, using positive feedback
F. The use of the library and Internet as resources

 

Possible Whole-Class Activities:

· Discussions
· Read Alouds
· Descriptions of personal folk stories

Possible Small-Group Activities:

· Writing Groups
· Peer Evaluations/Editing
· Interviews of each other about personal folk stories
· Group Read Alouds
· Discussions

Possible Individual Activities:

· Family or community Interviews
· Papers about personal folklore
· Research paper about folk hero
· Research about folk hero
· Class reading assignments

Student Resources:

· Notebooks
· Access to word processor and Internet
· Pens, pencils
· Copies of chapter 1 of Alex Haley's Roots
· Copies of Rudolfo A. Anaya's "The Force of Luck."
· Copies of other articles about contemporary folk heroes specific to your region.

 

 

 

 

Lesson Plan 1.
Unit Launch: Week one, Day one, 50 minute lesson

Objectives: By the end of this lesson, students have learned to:

· Differentiate between elite, folk, and pop cultures
· Define folklore
· Define a folk group
· Identify one folk story that they have participated in
· Identify cultural differences in how the game was played or passed on

Methods:

· Activity 1 (Introduction) (5min.)

Explain to students the content of the unit and the work they will be expected to complete in conjunction with the unit as part of the grad standard Diverse Perspectives. (10 min)

· Activity 2 (20 min)

Discussion: Defining folklore- Hide and Seek
Ask how many students remember playing "Hide and Seek" or "Kick the Can"
Ask students to explain how they played it (one at a time)
Questions:
How do you play it?
Where did the game originate?
Who plays this game? (folk group - usually little kids)
Why did you play it?
Does anyone play it today?
When did you play it?
Where was it played?
How did you learn about the game?

Based on the students' answers to the preceding questions ask them to form a definition of folklore based on characteristics of this one piece

1. Folklore is passed from person to person, often orally
2. No one is told to pass folklore on
3. Folklore is traditional- it has existed for a long period of time
4. Folklore usually has variation
5. Folklore is often of unknown origin

Activity 3 (20 min)

What is and is not folklore? Explain how folklore fits into culture in general. Give a brief explanation of elite, pop, and folk culture with examples of each.

· Give students a handout containing a list of items
· Ask students to identify which group each item belongs in and why (see attached handout)
· Discuss each item and why it fits the group it does

Activity 4: Wrap up (5 min)

· Finish discussions
· Assign homework for Day 2 - Ask at least 3 people who are older than you if they played "Hide and Seek" and where it came from.

Assessment:

I will know students have met the objectives if:
· They actively participate in the discussions
· They classify the items correctly on the handout and can back up their claims using the material presented in class

· They use the definitions created in class to guide their future writing assignments

 

Lesson Plan 2.
The Folklore of Naming: Week One, Day Two, 50-minute lesson

Objectives: By the end of this lesson students have learned:

· Names contain information about culture
· Some roles folklore plays in choosing a baby's name
· How babies are named in different cultures

Methods:

Activity One: (10min)

· Write the teacher's name on the board (including middle, maiden, and nicknames)
· Instruct students to ask questions based on the names to find out information about the teacher

 

 

· Questions to prompt students:
· Sometimes names are chosen from a book of popular names- What are some faddish names today?
· Who chose the name?
· What traditions were followed in choosing the name?
· What would it be if I were a boy/girl?

Activity Two: (10 min)

When students have finished asking questions about the teacher's name, ask:
· What have you learned about me from looking at my naming traditions?
· Discuss what those traditions tell us about folklore and cultural perspectives

Activity Three: (20 min)

· Have students free-write for about 5 minutes about how they were named
· In pairs, have students interview each other about their own names
· Have students share one interesting thing they learned about the other person's naming traditions

Activity Four: (10 min)

· Have students begin reading chapter 1 of Alex Haley's Roots.
· Homework: Finish reading chapter 1 of Roots.

Assessment:

I will know students have met the objectives if:
· They identify naming customs and traditions from their culture in free-writing
· They identify one tradition or custom used to name their interview partner
· They participate in the discussion about the role folklore plays in naming.

 

 

 

 

Organization of the Unit:

Week One:

Day One: Unit Launch- What is folklore
· See lesson plan above

Day Two: Folklore of Naming
· Whole class discusses the folklore of names focusing first on the name of the teacher or one of the students
· Students interview each other about their names.
· Homework: Read Chapt. 1 of Alex Haley's Roots. It describes an African naming ritual.

Day Three: First Drafts on Names
· Students share some of the traditions used in naming them
· Compare and contrast the naming traditions in Roots with those from the class. What do the Mandinkas value?
· Students write first drafts on their names in class
· Homework: Students read the drafts to parents and ask for positive response and also for more memories from the parents of what went into their naming.

Day Four: Response and Revision
· Students read drafts in groups, get responses, and revise drafts for homework

Day Five: Reading Papers Aloud and Looking at Naming Traditions
· Students read revisions aloud in class.
· Others give them positive feedback
· Everyone identifies the naming folklore in the writing
· Discusses its meaning and the values it implies
· Look for naming trends in the classroom
· Homework: Over the weekend students write a final 2-3 page paper on their naming process and the meaning and values implied in their personal folklore.

Week Two: Folk Heroes

Day One: Whom do you admire?
· Students make a list of people they admire
· Share the lists with the class
· Choose one person on the list to write about
· Write 1st draft
· Homework: Students choose one characteristic of the person they admire and expand on this characteristic, giving supporting anecdotes and details. This draft may or may not become the basis for their paper.

Day Two: Contemporary Folk Heroes
· Students read Rudolfo A. Anaya's "The Force of Luck"
· Discuss the article as a class
1. What makes it a folktale?
2. What elements of folklore are present in the story?
3. What makes someone a folk hero?
v (Folk hero criteria: Strong, Respected, Courageous, self-made (you can make a celebrity- not a hero), subject of both written and oral stories or articles)
4. Could someone in this story be considered a folk hero? Why or why not?
· Students read an article about a contemporary folk hero (possibly Paul Bunyan, or local hero for MN classes)
· Discuss the article in small groups
· Whole-class discussion defining the folk hero and his or her symbolism to the community.

Day Three: Reading More Articles on Folk Heroes
· Students read Xeroxed copies of articles from periodicals and magazines on heroes and folk heroes as models for their papers.
· Small group and/or whole-class discussions of these articles
· Homework: Draft of paper on folk hero. It can be the draft from the first day, or students may choose someone else to write about.

Day Four: Students Read Their Papers in Small Groups
· Students read their papers in small groups and get responses
· Homework: Prepare the second draft of the paper. This is not due until Monday.

Day Five: Library Day
· Students spend class in the library researching their person
· Homework: Incorporate research into paper for Monday.

 

Week Three: Folk Heroes (cont.)

Day One: Writing Groups
· Students share their rough draft with their writing group and receive feedback.
· Homework: Write final draft of paper to be due on Thurs.

Day Two: WWW Day
· Students do final research on their person using the internet
· Homework: Incorporate any new material found into the final draft of the research paper.

Day Three: Work Day
· Students spend the day conferencing with the teacher and working on the final draft of their 5-7 page paper.

Days Four and Five: Unit Wrap-up
· Research papers due day nine
· Students give short 2min. presentations about their papers
· Whole class discussion on how folklore has influenced students' perspectives
A. What makes a person a folk hero in a particular culture?
B. How do those characteristics change from one culture to another?
C. How does culture, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. affect perspectives on folklore?

 

 


Assessment Package: Student Worlds/Student Words

Learning Area: Write & Speak
Level: High School
Content Area: Write & Speak: Writing

Source: http://mecr.state.mn.us/rubric.pl? Ruberic_ID=10011&OBJ_REQ=VIEW

Task: The Folklore of Naming

Standard:
2 A student shall demonstrate a narrative including
A. A description of events from direct experience or observation
B. Use of relevant detail and figurative language to create an image of setting, characters, and events.
C. Dialogue between characters; and
D. A sequence of events or ideas leading to a logical ending; and
3 A. An idea or opinion that:
B. Gives a rationale that includes reasons to support or oppose the opinion;
C. Uses evidence to support the idea; and
D. Has correct spelling and mechanics.

Large Processes and Concepts: The items from the Large Processes and Concepts for this learning area that are addressed in this assessment task are bolded below.
The following bolded large processes and concepts are covered in this assessment task brainstorm/generate- draft- conference- revise- edit- publish

 

Overview: Students will be writing a short essay about how they were named. Students will base their writing on information collected from interviews with family members and folklore methods particular to their culture. You will need to include information such as: who named you, who you were named after (if anyone), why they chose that name, what traditions were followed in your naming?

1. First you will free-write to brainstorm ideas about how you were named. These will then be used to answer questions while interviewing in pairs. Any questions you were not able to answer using your free-write should be asked when you interview family members about how you were named. Record their answers on this sheet. Don't lose this draft; it will need to be handed in.
2. Next you will begin writing your essay. These are some things that must be included in your essay.
· Your essay should begin with your full name.
· Include the name of the person who named you and how you are related to them.
· Include the name and relationship of the person(s) you were named after and why they were chosen.
· You also need to include any cultural traditions you came across during your research.
· You will also be assessed on mechanics and spelling.
· Your essay must be word processed, using 12pt. Font and double-spaced.
3. After you have written your first draft, you will be meeting in writing groups. You will need to have members of your group respond to your essay. Do not lose these responses; this is part of your final grade.
4. After you have revised and corrected your first draft from the responses you received from your group members, you will be conferencing with the teacher about your second draft. Do not lose you teacher response! This will also be included in your final grade.
5. You will now revise your essay, using the comments your teacher gave you during the conference. This will be your final draft. It should be free of spelling and mechanical errors. It must be handed in with your brainstorming sheet, interview sheet, peer responses, and teacher response.

Task: Folk Hero Research Paper
Standard:
2 A student shall demonstrate a narrative including
A. A description of events from direct experience or observation
B. Use of relevant detail and figurative language to create an image of setting, characters, and events.
C. Dialogue between characters; and
D. A sequence of events or ideas leading to a logical ending; and
3 A. An idea or opinion that:
B. Gives a rationale that includes reasons to support or oppose the opinion;
C. Uses evidence to support the idea; and
D. Has correct spelling and mechanics.
Overview: Students will be writing a 4-6 page research paper about a folk hero. Students will base their writing on information collected from interviews with family members and folklore particular to their culture. You will also use information from the library and Internet. You will need to include information such as: who is your folk hero, what characteristics do they possess to classify them as a folk hero, how have stories about them changed over time?

1. First you will brainstorm a list of people you admire. These will then be shared with the class. Choose one person on the list to write about. Free-write a first draft identifying the characteristic(s) that make this person a folk hero. Don't lose this draft, it will need to be handed in.
2. Next you will begin looking at examples of modern folk heroes. Determine if the person you have chosen fits the definition created in class of a folk hero. Begin draft two of your research paper. (This may be on the same person you chose for draft one, or you may choose someone new.) These are some things that must be included in your essay.
· Your paper should begin with the name of your hero and the characteristics that make them a folk hero.
· Include anecdotes and details about the person's life supporting their classification as a folk hero.
· You also need to include any cultural traditions that will classify them as a folk hero for a particular culture.
· Your paper must include at least three different sources of information on your hero.
· You must include a works cited page.
· You will also be assessed on mechanics and spelling.
· Your paper must be word processed, using 12pt. Font and double-spaced.
3. After you have written your first draft, you will be meeting in writing groups. You will need to have members of your group respond to your paper. Do not lose these responses; this is part of your final grade.
4. After you have met with your group you will be going to the library to do some secondary research on your hero. Begin a second draft using the new information you have collected and responses from your writing groups.
5. After you have revised and corrected your first draft from the responses you received from your group members, you will be conferencing with the teacher about your second draft. Do not lose you teacher response! This will also be included in your final grade.
6. You will now revise your paper, using the comments your teacher gave you during the conference. This will be your final draft. It should be free of spelling and mechanical errors. It must be handed in with your brainstorming sheet, interview sheet, peer responses, and teacher response.

Task Checklist: Brainstorming
Y = Yes N=No


Student Type of evidence Teacher
Did the Student brainstorm
different ideas about how they
were named in their free-write?

 

Did the student interview
a classmate and discuss at
least three different cultural
traditions for naming a baby?

Did the student
Interview family members
And record the collected info?

Student must turn in
Free-write with at least
Three naming traditions
Identified.


Task Checklist: Generate (The First Draft)
Y = Yes N= No
Student Type of Evidence Teacher

Does the Student include their
Full name in the draft?

Does the student include the name
And relationship of the person
Who named them?

 

Does the essay include
The name of the person
(or people) the student
was named after?

Does the essay identify at least
Three cultural traditions followed
In choosing the student's name?

Is there dialogue between characters?

Is there a description of the
setting?
Is the draft free of spelling and mechanical errors?

Task Checklist: Revising & Editing Drafts 2 & 3
Y= Yes N= No

 

Student Type of Evidence Teacher
Does the Student include their
Full name in the draft?

Does the student include the name
And relationship of the person
Who named them?

 

Does the essay include
The name of the person
(or people) the student
was named after?

Does the essay identify at least
Three cultural traditions followed
In choosing the student's name?

Is there dialogue between characters?

Is the dialogue realistic?

 

Is there a description of the
setting?

Is the draft typed?

Has the student made
corrections in draft two from
draft one?

 

Has the student made
corrections in draft three from
draft two?

 

Has the student conferenced
with the teacher?

 

Has the student handed in all
drafts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Task Assessment: The Research Paper
Y = Yes N = No

Student Type of Evidence Teacher

Has the student identified a
Folk hero to research?

 

Has the student identified
The qualities that classify
Their subject as a folk hero?

Has the student turned in all drafts?



How to Assess the Content Standards for the Final Project:
Source: http://mecr.state.mn.us/rubric.pl?RUBRIC_ID=10011&OBJ_REQ=VIEW

Scores are ranked 4-0 with 4 being highest score and 0 being lowest.
Scores reflect a professional judgement based on multiple evidence of sustained student work over time.
Important! All parts of the listed criteria must be met for a specific score to be given.
Exemplary- To receive a score of 4, a student:
Develops a message/content that is transparent with sharp focus, supported with varied, precise, significant examples and/or details and is an invitation for the audience to re-examine their perspective.
Establishes style with precise, subtle word choice, fluent and refined variation in sentence structure and personal response that transforms interaction of audience, message and medium.
Demonstrates control of conventions that is skilled in nuances and enhances message.
Proficient- To receive a score of 3, a student:
Develops a message/content that is structured with clear focus, supported with multiple, specific, relevant examples and/or details and intentional for a particular audience perspective.
Establishes style with accurate, appropriate word choice, multiple and purposeful variation in sentence structure and crafted response that considers interaction of audience, message and medium.
Demonstrates control of conventions that is accurate and appropriate to message.
Novice- To receive a score of 2, a student:
Develops a message/content that is awkward with inconsistent focus, supported with few, general, and/or related examples and/or details and addressed to a stereotypical/general audience perspective.
Establishes style with functional, adequate word choice, limited and/or mechanical variation of sentence structure and mechanical response that attempts to acknowledge interaction of audience, message and medium.
Demonstrates control of conventions that is inconsistent and sometimes distracts from message.
Emerging- To receive a score of 1, a student:
Develops a message/content that is haphazard with competing focus, supported with sporadic, vague, and/or remote examples and/or details and limited in awareness of audience perspective.
Establishes style with generic, limited word choice, meaningless and/or random variation in sentence structure and limited response that awkwardly addresses interaction of audience, message and medium.
Demonstrates control of conventions that is unskilled and interferes with message.

Supporting Materials

Simons, Elizabeth Radin. Student Worlds Student Words: Teaching Writing Through Folklore.

Tell Me A Tale, D.C. Heath

http://mecr.state.mn.us/

http://www.ncte.org/lists/

 

 

 

What is and is not Folklore?
Directions: Please classify each of the following as elite, pop, or folk culture and explain why you chose that answer in the space provided.

1. "The Cosby Show"

 

 

2. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

 

 

3. Monopoly

 

 

4. Children playing house

 

 

5. Holding up the index finger to indicate you're #1

 

 

6. Snoopy

 

 

7. Shakespeare's King Lear

 

 

8. Slumber Parties

 

 

9. Disneyland

 

 

10. Homecoming