Teaching Characterization and Metacognition using African-American Short Stories

Author: Jessica L. Shupik


Motivation High School

Year: 2012

Seminar: "But Mostly I Lie A Lot" - The African American Short Story in the 21st Century

Grade Level: 9

Keywords: African American short stories, metacognition, Recitatif, short stories

School Subject(s): English, Literature

The focus of the ninth grade curriculum is the short story and the theme for the year is “Search for Self.” I am excited to really examine the focus and theme for the ninth grade in a different way. Developing a curriculum unit on characterization in African-American short stories will help me enrich my students’ learning experiences. The stories provided in the literature book are entertaining, but they do not make students think on a deeper level. My school emphasizes using the third and fourth levels of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, but the stories that we have truly only require a surface level of thinking to understand. “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison will keep my students engaged to a level where they question everything. If they approach a text at the beginning of the year from a point of inquiry, they will learn that it is beneficial to question what they read, see, and hear in order to gain deeper understanding. I also know that my students will have a much easier time relating with the short stories that I select than they will with the stories that are in the textbook because I can tailor the stories to their experiences and interests. The short story “Recitatif” will not initially interest all of my students, but I know that after a few activities they will be enthralled and possibly obsessed with proving which character is white and which is black.

Download Unit: jshupik-unit-2012.pdf

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