Hispanic and African American Folktales

Students explore the power of oral storytelling in African-American and Hispanic cultures through folktales that have been passed down within families and communities for generations.

Unit Summary

Students explore the power of oral storytelling in African-American and Hispanic cultures through reading and listening to a wide variety of folktales and stories that have been passed down within families and communities for generations. These stories serve as a launching point for students to explore and understand the world around them, to grapple with what it means to be a good person, and to consider what they can learn from the experiences of others. This unit, in connection with others in the course, will challenge students to think about the power of storytelling and the influence it can have on individuals and entire communities.

In reading and writing, this unit focuses on helping readers see the connection between recounting stories, determining a central message, and using details to explain how the central message is conveyed. Through multiple readings of the same folktales, students will be able to analyze and discover the way in which messages are developed. Students will then be pushed to articulate this understanding both orally and in writing. Rereading the same folktale multiple times also supports students fluency and vocabulary development.

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Unit Launch

Online learning modules that include short videos and readings to help teachers prepare to teach a unit.

 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

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Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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What lessons can we learn from folktales? 

Why are Brer Rabbit tales important? What can we learn from them? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Combine simple sentences by adding conjunctions and pronouns 
  • Use subordinating conjunctions "before," "after," "when," and "if"
  • Write topic sentences
  • Edit for complete sentences and spelling

This unit continues the work of composing strong, complex sentences. Students learn to combine simple sentences using conjunctions because, but, and so and a pronoun. They also use subordinating conjunctions "before," "after," "when," and "if" to craft more complex sentences. All students should be attempting to include at least one complex sentence in their writing daily. For students who are still struggling to write complete sentences, we recommend using our guide Sentence-Level Feedback and Support to provide individual and small-group feedback throughout the unit. 

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm a logical sequence of events
  • Introduce characters and setting 
  • Write events that unfold in a logical way
  • Use temporal words and phrases to manage the sequence of events 

Similar to unit one, this unit ends with a weeklong narrative writing deep dive. Students will use what they learned in unit one, combined with the author's craft moves they noticed from reading the wide-variety of folktales in the unit, to write folktales of their own.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • Clearly state an opinion 
  • Provide reasons that support an opinion 

In this unit students write an opinion piece stating which folktale is their favorite and why. Students work on stating and opinion and then providing reasons that support the opinion. 

Related Teacher Tools:

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Readers self-correct when reading difficult words and sentence structures. 
  • Readers read smoothly and with accuracy. 
  • Readers use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage. 
  • Readers adjust reading rate depending on the purpose for reading and task.

The main focus of this unit is on reading with smoothness, accuracy and expression. Building on work done in unit one, students will continue to read character dialogue with expression in order to match the mood/feelings of the characters. In this unit students will also begin to learn and use strategies for self-correcting when reading difficult words and sentence structures. Self-correcting not only helps a reader read fluently, but also helps ensure a reader understands what is happening in the text. In this unit students also begin to explore how reading rate should vary depending on the purpose for reading. On the second or third read of a text, particularly when a section of a text is being close read, students should slow down their rate in order to notice and analyze author's craft.

Teachers should plan to do fluency checkpoints at several points throughout a unit. Have students grade themselves or a friend on the Reading Fluency Rubric. If a student scores a 2 or lower on any of the sections, we offer some ideas for additional fluency instruction and support in our Fluency Assessment Package.

At the end of each unit, teachers should assess each student using the unit’s fluency assessment found in the Fluency Assessment Package. This assessment is quick. Teachers should plan to pull students one-on-one to do this while the rest of the class is independently reading or writing.

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Fluency Package

Additional tools to help monitor and support students’ reading fluency.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly. 
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts. 

In this unit students predominantly show understanding of the text through academic discourse. Through a range of one-on-one, group and teacher-led tasks students grapple with the deeper meanings of both core texts. Work in this unit builds directly on work done in unit 1. 

Students at this point will also be in the beginning stages of articulating ideas and participating in conversations. As noted in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below), when students first participate in discussions the focus should be on helping students clarify and share their own thoughts. Later students will be able to engage with the thinking of others, but to do so they need to be able to clearly articulate their own ideas.

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

appearances clever content disdain heed humble injustice incredulous judge mind mused neglected outsmart rendered rival splendid strutted stubborn tended trespassing unsuspecting unfulfilled wisdom

Idiom/Cultural Reference

"meet your match"

Root/Affix

in- out- un-

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Vocabulary Package

Additional vocabulary tools that help reinforce and support student vocabulary development.

Lesson Map

1

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Bird of One Thousand Colors.”

2

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.3

Describe the Turkey, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

3

  • Tales Our... — "The Bird of One Thousand Colors"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “The Bird of One Thousand Colors."

4

Writing

    L.3.1

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences. 

5

  • Tales Our... — "'Deer Deer!' Said the Turtle"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “’Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle.”

6

  • Tales Our... — "Deer, Deer!" Said the Turtle

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

Describe Venado and Jicotea, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

7Essential Task

  • Tales Our... — "'Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “’Dear Deer!’ said the Turtle.” 

8

Writing

    L.3.1

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences. 

9

  • Tales Our... — "The Goat From the Hill and Mountains"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Goat From the Hill and Mountains.”

10

  • Tales Our... — The Goat From the Hill and Mountains

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

Describe the soldier and the ant, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

11

  • Tales Our... — "The Goat from the Hill and Mountains"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in “The Goat from the Hills and Mountains.” 

12

Writing

    L.3.1

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

13

  • Tales Our... — "The Happy Man's Tunic"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Recount what happens in “The Happy Man’s Tunic.”

14

  • Tales Our... — The Happy Man's Tunic

    RL.3.3

Describe the shepherd, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

15Essential Task

  • Tales Our... — "The Happy Man's Tunic"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe what lesson the author is trying to teach about happiness in "The Happy Man's Tunic."

16

Discussion

  • Tales Our...

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.9

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    SL.3.6

    L.3.6

Analyze common messages/lessons across different folktales and how characters are similar and different across different folktales. 

17

2 days

Opinion Writing

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    L.3.1

    L.3.2

Write a paragraph stating which folktale is your favorite and why.

18

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe Brer Rabbit and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.

19

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit Tricks Brer Fox Again and The Talking House

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.9

Describe Brer Rabbit. 

20

  • Tales of... — Brer Rabbit Finally Gets Beaten

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.9

Describe Brer Rabbit. 

21Essential Task

  • Her Stories — "Little Girl and Buh Rabby"

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe Buh Rabby and whether or not he learned a lesson. 

22

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    RL.3.2

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

    SL.3.6

Analyze and debate unit essential questions. 

23

Assessment

24

4 days

Narrative Writing

    W.3.3

    W.3.3.a

    W.3.3.c

    L.3.1

    L.3.2

Write a narrative using effective technique and organizing an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

  • L.3.5 — Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.3.6 — Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.3.2 — Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • RL.3.3 — Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

  • RL.3.9 — Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.6 — Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

  • W.3.1.a — Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

  • W.3.1.b — Provide reasons that support the opinion.

  • W.3.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

  • W.3.3.a — Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  • W.3.3.c — Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.

Sprial Standards

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L.3.1.d

L.3.1.e

L.3.1.f

L.3.1.g

L.3.1.h

L.3.1.i

L.3.2.e

L.3.2.f

L.3.2.g

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

RF.3.3

RF.3.3.b

RF.3.3.c

RF.3.3.d

RF.3.4

RF.3.4.b

RF.3.4.c

RL.3.1

RL.3.10

RL.3.4

RL.3.5

RL.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.2

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5