Unit 3: Passing Down Wisdom: 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.
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.
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 stories, students will be able to analyze and discover how messages are developed. Rereading the same folktale multiple times also supports students' fluency and vocabulary development.
Students continue to work on sharing their ideas through discourse, focusing on how to provide evidence and examples to justify a particular idea or point. Being able to clearly articulate and support their own ideas sets students up for success in later units when they begin to build on to and critique the ideas of their classmates.
Students continue to build their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the text. In this unit students learn how to brainstorm and write literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, focusing on how to write topic sentences that state an opinion and then how to determine evidence and reasons that support the opinion. The unit concludes with students writing their own folktales or stories, using the core texts and strategies learned in previous units as a guide.
Please Note: In February 2023, we released updated enhanced lesson plans for this unit, which now include answers to key questions and related student supports. In July 2023, we removed the text Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton and the corresponding lesson from the unit. You may notice discrepancies in previously downloaded/printed unit or lesson plans.
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Book: Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit by Julius Lester (Puffin Books, 2006)
Book: Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection by F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flora Ada (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Rubric: Grade 3 Narrative Writing Rubric
Rubric: Grade 3 Literary Analysis and Opinion Writing Rubric
Template: Opinion Brainstorm Graphic Organizer
These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit. Essential Tasks can be found in the following lessons:
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
When readers retell a story, they tell events from the story using a clearly sequenced order of events.
To understand how a character influences the sequence of events, readers think about what he or she did to cause key events in the story.
Authors reveal the central message of a story by using predictable patterns and pathways.
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.
State an opinion.
Provide reasons that support an opinion.
Use linking words and phrases to connect reasons with evidence.
Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.
Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
"meet your match"
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 3, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Recount what happens in "The Bird of One Thousand Colors."
Describe the Turkey, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in "The Bird of One Thousand Colors."
Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.
Recount what happens in "'Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle."
Describe Venado and Jicotea, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in "'Dear Deer!' Said the Turtle."
Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.
Recount what happens in "The Goat from the Hills and Mountains."
Describe the soldier and the ant, and how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Explain what lesson the author is trying to teach in "The Goat from the Hills and Mountains."
Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.
Recount what happens in "The Happy Man’s Tunic."
Describe the shepherd, and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Describe what lesson the author is trying to teach about happiness in "The Happy Man's Tunic."
Analyze common messages/lessons across different folktales and how characters are similar and different across different folktales.
Opinion Writing – 2 days
Write a paragraph stating which folktale is your favorite and why.
Describe Brer Rabbit and how his actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Describe Brer Rabbit.
Opinion Writing – 4 days
Defend whether or not Brer Rabbit is a good role model by using evidence from the stories throughout the unit.
Analyze and debate unit essential questions.
Narrative Writing – 5 days
Write a narrative using effective technique and organizing an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
— Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
— Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.
— Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.
— 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.
— Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— 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).
— 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.
— Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
— 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).
— 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.
— 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.
— Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
— Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
— Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
— Provide reasons that support the opinion.
— Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
— Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
— Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
— Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.
— With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
(Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1—3 above.)
— With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
— Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Form and use regular and irregular verbs.
— Form and use the simple (e.g., I walked; I walk; I will walk) verb tenses.
— Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.
— Form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.
— Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
— Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
— Decode multisyllable words.
— Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Read on-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings
— Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.
— Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
— Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
— Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2—3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
— Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
— Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
— Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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