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Fairytales, Folktales, and Animal Tales: A Culturally Responsive Approach to Literacy

Culturally responsive literature will allow students to connect so that strategies for achieving higher order and critical thinking can be more readily applied. This unit will serve as a guide for teachers who have fourth grade students performing at varying levels who are of African or African American descent. The materials and strategies are designed to elicit and build on prior knowledge that these students bring to the classroom. Materials include stories that students have been hearing since they were very young, with a focus here on tales of spiders and creation stories. The unit also draws upon their knowledge of popular American versions of fairy tales from the students’ traditions for comparison, contrast, and discussion of the origins and meanings of cultural differences. Folk and Fairy tales from native traditions stimulate exploration of non-fiction material as well, an area where many of our students falter in testing. The non-fiction resources will be used to explore West African geography and history alluded to in the folktales. Thus students will be supported by the recognition of their own rich heritage, while acquiring necessary skills such as making assertions and explaining literary elements. Activating prior knowledge, this student-centered approach to education will help students gain and apply new skills more quickly while sustaining a higher interest level.

Aimee Davis
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