November 24, 2010

Pourquoi? Because I said so.

I have a secret to confess.  I don't like teaching social studies.  I know, it's horrible...Actually, the TEACHING is not so bad, but I dislike the planning part because I very rarely have original and engaging ideas for social studies.  And since I don't have inspired lesson ideas, I don't enjoy the teaching as much as I do other subjects.  Once in awhile I do stumble across a great interact or simulation (I adored the Hacker Trail westward expansion interact we did last spring!), but between our outdated sub-par social studies curriculum, and the fact that there is little or no time in the day for social studies anyways, my lessons are usually not quite what they ought to be.

Right now, we are in the middle of a half-assed unit I threw together on Native Americans.  Now I just said I'm not into social studies...well, I am REALLY not into the social studies curriculum on Native Americans.  First of all, it's way too much.  No, we are not going to study EVERY tribe, and no, I really don't want to do tribe research projects.  I would much rather focus on traditions of Native American cultures, then begin moving onto settling the New World/revisit Native American roles in that.  Anyways, in my ongoing quest to find engaging, meaningful lessons that connect to Native American traditions, I found this fantastic unit on Pourquoi Tales (how & why stories, often myths and legends) on the fabulous website Read Write Think.  If you have never looked around there before, definitely check it out!  It's a gold mine.

Over the past two days (I squeezed it into such a short time because we weren't using our literacy series for the two day week, plus our intervention block was cancelled.  Helloooo tons of teaching time, it's so nice to meet you!!), I read aloud 3 or 4 Pourquoi Tales from different cultures, including a few from Native American tribes.  The kids also read a few for homework.  We worked on identifying the aspects of the genre, as well as discussing the cultural elements from the stories.  The class LOVED listening to the stories (and hello, we know I am a big sucker for any chance to a. read out loud and b. read picture books to my class), and really got a concept of the genre.

Then, after exposure to a few tales, they worked with partners to come up with an idea for their own pourquoi tale to explain something in the world.  They filled out planning guides (provided by Read Write Think!!) and started drafting their stories.  One thing that they struggled with a little bit was coming up with plot events that can link to an eventual solution that explains their element in nature.  For example, one student wanted to write about why the cheetah has it's spots, but couldn't think of any ideas for events that would lead to that.  It took a lot of conferencing with me for some of them to get ideas, but once they did, they ran with them!!!  The stories are so creative.

After writing and revising, they recopied the stories onto construction paper and illustrated.  When we come back from break, I'm planning to laminate the pages and bind them into a class book.  Hopefully beforehand, if I am feeling extra ambitions, I will have a chance to photocopy them all and make individual black and white booklets of the stories for the kids.  They seemed excited about the class book idea, but disappointed that they wouldn't be able to take their story home.  I definitely recommend this lesson, and not just as a Native American unit link.  Genres, especially traditional literature genres, are a highly tested area, but tend to be very confusing for kids.  While "Pourquoi Tale" isn't a specific genre, I feel like my class has a much clearer understanding of legends and myths after this lesson.  And, I am SUPER excited to get the book all put together.  I will post pictures of that next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...