Spider Stories

Students read, discuss and write about spider, or Anansi, folktales from West Africa which have been used for generations to teach lessons about human nature and the consequences of good and bad behavior.

Unit Summary

In this folktales unit, second graders explore Spider, or Anansi, folktales from Western Africa. Folktales have been used for generations to teach important lessons about human nature and the consequences of good and bad behavior in a way that is clear, convincing, and easily relatable. Through reading and learning about Spider, students will be able to debate and analyze what it means to be a good person and the importance of hard work and cooperation. Studying the actions of Spider, a character with whom it is easy to connect and empathize, allows students to begin to develop a sense of moral behavior and understanding of the world around them by learning from the actions of others. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with others in the sequence, will help students begin to develop a strong moral compass and understanding of what constitutes “right” and “wrong.”

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Purchase Books Icon Created with Sketch.

Purchase Books

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

?

  • What are the characteristics of a folktale? 
  • What lessons can we learn from folktales? 
  • What can we learn about being a good person from reading Spider stories? 

Reading Enduring Understandings

?

  • Folktales are stories or legends that are passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Folktales typically teach a lesson about right and wrong. 
  • Trickster tales are a type of folktale. Trickster tales have one character who is clever and devious and who often creates problems for the other characters. The trickster character often goes unpunished. 
  • The central message of a story is the big idea or lesson the story teaches. Knowing which events are most important in a story helps a reader figure out the story’s lesson or central message. To figure out the central message, readers can also ask themselves, “What can we learn from this story?” or “What does this story teach us?” 
  • Most stories follow a similar structure. The beginning of the story introduces the characters, and something happens that initiates the problem or challenge. The middle of the story is dedicated to trying to solve the problem. In the end, the character either gets what he wants or doesn’t, and learns something from the experiences. 
  • A character’s response is what a character does, thinks, feels, or says because of an event that happens in the story. A character’s response to events helps a reader learn more about a character’s personality. 
  • Retelling a story is a way to make sure that a reader understands what happens in a story. Retells include the most important parts of the story, in the correct order.

Foundational Skills

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas

There are no phonics and word recognition focus areas for this unit.

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Readers read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.
  • Readers use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage. 

A priority of this unit is modeling how to read a text with the right expression, volume, and intonation to match the interpretation of the passage. All of the stories should be read aloud with an emphasis on using strategies of fluent reading to bring the characters and events to life. When reenacting and retelling a story, students should also use the same expression and intonation to bring the story to life. 

Suggested Supports: 

  • Multiple times over the course of the unit prompt students to notice and explain how you are modeling fluent reading. Potential prompts:
    • What did you notice about the way I read X character’s dialogue? How does it help a reader better understand what is happening? 
    • What did you notice about my expression during this section of text? Why did I read with expression? How does it help a reader better understand what is happening? 
    • Why did I place extra emphasis on X word? How does it help a reader? 
    • When I read aloud I read fluently. What do you notice about the way I read? How does it help you better understand the story? 
  • During retelling and reenacting lessons, have students practice varying their expression, volume, and intonation to match the retell. This is especially important when students are using props to retell the stories. If students are retelling in a flat, monotone way, model how to use expression and intonation to bring the retell to life. 
  • The reader’s theater at the end of the unit is perfect for practicing and developing fluency. See the reader’s theater rubric to decide which components of fluency to highlight and reinforce with students. At this point in the unit, however, students should have a solid understanding of how to read with expression based on teacher models and retells. 

Writing Focus Areas

?

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Develop a focused narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Brainstorm and include events relevant to the focus.
  • Zoom in on one moment by adding details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Use illustrations to add details and description to a story.

In unit 1, students began writing narrative stories with a strong beginning, middle, and end. In this unit, students continue to work on brainstorming and writing stories, particularly trickster tales, that have a strong beginning, middle, and end. Students also are challenged to think about the different ways they can describe a character’s actions, thoughts, and feelings.

Language Focus Areas

  • Use frequently occurring adjectives to describe.
  • Use complete simple sentences, including declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences. 
  • Use learned spelling patterns when writing words.
  • Use reference materials to check and correct spellings. 

This unit has a few main focuses. The first is on using complete simple sentences. Students will review the key components of a simple sentence and have ample time to practice writing their own simple sentences in response to the text. Students will also begin to explore using adjectives to describe. The final focus is on using spelling patterns and references in order to spell words correctly. This focus area is about establishing expectations for spelling and the routines for checking spelling. Students should receive targeted feedback on spelling, especially words that include known sound-spelling patterns, are listed on the word wall, or can be found in the text. 

Writing-About-Reading Focus Areas

  • Correctly answer the question.
  • Select and explain evidence and details. 

In unit 1, the main focus for writing about reading was on correctly answering the question. Since this focus area is dependent on the question and text demands, it will always remain a priority. In this unit, however, students will begin to support their answer with evidence and details. This does not mean that students should be quoting from the text or that students should be told to always include two details. Instead, students should learn how to include details that help answer the question correctly. Most often those details should be in their own words. Student work should be scored using the short-answer rubric. 

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

Academic Conversations Focus

  • Makes eye contact with the speaker
  • Listens to the speaker with care
  • Waits to share; does not interrupt

In this unit, students continue to work on the routines of strong, productive academic conversations. Students will continue to focus on making eye contact and listening to the speaker with care, two focuses from unit one. Additionally, students will practice different techniques for actively listening and knowing when it is their turn to share. In later units, students will focus on building on productively using multiple sentences; however, in this unit the key is that students understand that in conversations people listen to one another, don’t interrupt, and then talk about similar things. Students should engage in academic conversations daily; however, there are multiple targeted lessons included in the unit. Over the course of the unit, students should use the Academic Conversations Checklist to self-assess their progress toward the academic conversations focus areas. (Note: At Match, this unit is taught at the same time as Unit 2: Insects; therefore, the speaking and listening focus areas are the same across both units.)

Building Language Proficiency

  • Recount/Explain: 
    • Re-enact content-related situations or events from oral descriptions 
    • Sequence events with temporal transitions using picture clues 
    • State details of processes or procedures
  • Argue/Discuss: 
    • Use organizing categories for content-related information 
    • Defend claims or opinions to content-related topics 
    • Express own ideas consistent with the topic discussed 

In this unit, students continue to refine their abilities to recount, explain, argue, and discuss key ideas. In almost every lesson, but particularly in the retell lessons, students will have opportunities to practice reenacting events from the story and sequencing events with temporal transitions. During longer discussion and writing lessons, students will work on how to organize information, begin to defend a claim, and express their own opinions and ideas.

Vocabulary

?

Literary Terms

retell

Text-based

deserve, puzzled, brilliant, poor, greedy, lazy, naughty, stupid, sharp, intelligent, bright, clever, kind, naughty, foolish, fool, ashamed

Content Knowledge and Connections

?

  • Explain that traditional literature is literature that is passed down from generation to generation, teaches a lesson, and often explains a natural occurrence.
  • Explain the features of a folktale.
  • Describe the features of a trickster tale (one character is clever and very tricky; trickster causes problems for another character; he/she usually gets away with the trick)
  • Describe that Spider, or Anansi, stories are an important part of West African culture. Anansi is a West African god who takes the shape of a spider. There are lots of different versions and variations of Anansi stories, but they mostly originate from Ghana.

Intellectual Prep

?

Building Background Knowledge:

  • Research and learn about Anansi and the role of Anansi stories in West African culture.
  • Research and learn about the characteristics of folktales and trickster tales.

Lesson Map

1

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Got a Thin Waist"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

2

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Got a Thin Waist"

    RL.2.2

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “How Spider Got a Thin Waist” and determine the central message or lesson.

3

  • The Adventures of Spider — "Why Spider Lives in Ceilings"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

4

  • The Adventures of Spider — "Why Spider Lives in Ceilings"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “Why Spider Lives in Ceilings” and determine the central message or lesson. 

5

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Got a Bald Head"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

6

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Got a Bald Head"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “How Spider Got a Bald Head” and determine the central message or lesson.

7

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Helped a Fisherman"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

 Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

8

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How Spider Helped a Fisherman"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “How Spider Helped a Fisherman” and determine the central message or lesson. 

9

  • The Adventures of Spider — "Why Spiders Live in Dark Corners"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

10

  • The Adventures of Spider — "Why Spiders Live in Dark Corners"

  • The Adventures of Spider

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “Why Spiders Live in Dark Corners” and determine the central message or lesson.

11

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How the World Got Wisdom"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.3

Describe Spider by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

12

  • The Adventures of Spider — "How the World Got Wisdom"

    RL.2.2

    RL.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Retell “How the World Got Wisdom” and determine the central message or lesson.

13

  • All unit texts

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

Argue if Spider has more positive or negative traits by defending claims or opinions to content-related questions.

14

3 days

  • Sample Wanted Poster

    L.2.1.a

Create a wanted poster to help find spider.

15

3 days

  • Anansi's Feast: A West African Trickster Tale

    RF.2.4

    SL.2.4

Perform a reader’s theater version of Anansi by reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency.

16

4 days

Narrative Writing

    W.2.3

    W.2.5

Write a trickster tale featuring Anansi by writing narratives that include details that describe actions, thoughts, and feelings.

17

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.2.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.2.1.a — Use collective nouns (e.g., group).

  • L.2.1.b — Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns (e.g., feet, children, teeth, mice, fish).

  • L.2.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.2.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.2.2 — Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

  • RL.2.3 — Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

  • RL.2.5 — Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

Reading Standards: Foundational Skills
  • RF.2.3 — Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

  • RF.2.4 — Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.2.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.2.2 — Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.2.4 — Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

Writing Standards
  • W.2.3 — Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

  • W.2.5 — With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.