Folktales from Around the World

Project Members: Jessica Fink, Caroline Haavik, Lisa Hedge and Deirdre Lunn

For this unit a group of five second graders with learning disabilities will learn to identify similarities and differences between two similar folktales, learn about the origins of those folktales and the countries they came from, and create a digital folktale collaboratively as a class. The unit will begin by reading two similar European folktales in order to demonstrate how folktales evolve as they travel across countries and generations. The students will then research the European countries and cultures where the stories originated in order to make connections between the folktales and the cultures they came from. Once the students have made those connections, they will work with the teachers to write their own folktale as a class using the cultural facts they learned during their research. The students will use their creativity to make the digital pages of the folktale and the lesson will end when the pages are uploaded to a storytelling site. This unit addresses standards related to technology, investigation, personal exploration, and multicultural understanding.

The Topic & Standards
This topic and unit apply to second grade students with varying special needs. The topic is covered in the second grade curriculum under Common Core, taken from Information Fluency Continuum and Common Core Learning (which is used by this NYC school) and the lesson plans directly correlate to the standards and benchmarks listed below. The unit focuses on different cultures and folktales, which are topics from which many other important many important lessons can be learned. The first day focuses on Standard 2, while the other three lessons focus more heavily on Standard 1.

The lesson plans are designed to meet the needs of the topic by focusing first on different versions of folktales, learning elements of folktales, learning different elements of different cultures, and finally creating a multicultural folktale using various technologies. This is a topic that is highly relatable to these particular students, who will be using technology in an interactive way designed to fit their special needs.

Standards: Information Fluency Continuum and Common Core Learning
Information Fluency: Priority Benchmark Skills and Assessments: Grade 2

Standard 1: Using Inquiry to Build Understanding
“Connect” Benchmark:
- Identifies one or two key words about a topic, problem or question with guidance from the librarian.
“Investigate” Benchmarks:
- Follows a modeled inquiry process during each visit to the library
to do research.
- Finds facts and briefly summarizes them via writing, drawing, or
verbalization to answer research questions.

Standard 2: Pursuing Personal and Aesthetic Growth
“Personal Exploration” Benchmark:
- Expresses own ideas through creating products in a variety of formats.

Standard 3: Demonstrating Social Responsibility
“Importance of Information to a Democratic Society” Benchmarks:
- Reads multicultural texts from various genres.
- Compares folktales or stories from different cultures.
Retrieved from Empire State’s Information Fluency Continuum - Benchmark Skills for Grades K-12

The Setting and Context
1. What kind of school or library is this? Why does this matter to your lesson?
The library is in a public K-12 school in New York City called Churchill School, which has approximately 400 students who all have learning disabilities. All of the classes have only 12 students and only half the class visits the library at a time. This means our lesson had to be designed to accommodate a small group of high needs students, which is atypical for public schools that normally have large classes with a wide range of learning abilities. The materials in the library are split up so that the elementary materials are on the left side of the library and the middle/high school materials are on the right side of the library. Both elementary and secondary students share the electronic resources, such as desktops and laptops.

One of the goals for the Churchill School’s elementary library is “to promote a love of literature through weekly readings from carefully selected picture books.” Exposing the students to folktales from the continents that they are studying will reinforce the specific characteristics that typify each of the continents studied.

During our lesson we will be reinforcing the library’s goal along with the incorporating technology. It is important that we have access to the resources necessary for each lesson. We need the space to read to the students as well as access to the computers in order to teach our lessons. The second graders are currently studying continents in their social studies classes. They have started the “continents” unit by studying Europe. In the library, they are beginning a unit on folktales. In a collaborative effort we will work with the classroom teachers to align the current unit of study and study the same continents. We will be focusing on the folktales that originated in each country along with incorporating some technology skills into their research.

2. What kind of students, and what are their learning needs?
The students are seven to nine years old and in a class comprised of second and third graders. The students come to the library in groups of six, which is half the class. The school is made up of students with various learning disabilities and the students in this class vary dramatically in their abilities and special needs. Some of the students within this class are classified as having ADHD, ADD, Asperger’s Syndrome, processing issues, or are delayed in their reading and verbal skills. The students will have varying levels of prior knowledge when they begin this lesson. Because of their learning disabilities, their prior knowledge is somewhat unpredictable.

3. Will you be teaching this yourself, or working with a teacher? What are the challenges of either scenario?
We will be working as a group of teachers in collaboration with the school library media specialist(s). The teachers and SLMS plan out the lessons (via email or other collaborative tools) ahead of time to design the lesson. The lessons that take place in the library media center will be fully collaborative (all teachers and SLMS present), and the lessons that take place in the classroom will have only the teachers present.

One of the challenges to having the SLMS present is that it would infringe on her time with other classes, which is why she will not be in the classroom at the time of those lessons. Unfortunately, the teachers and SLMS will not be able to meet in period (scheduling challenge), which is why they will use the collaborative tools available to them in order to plan out the lessons. One last challenge is workload - if the teachers and SLMS were not working together, this would be a lot of design and planning for one person. Thankfully, they educators will be able to share the burden.

4. Are there scheduling challenges that affect how you plan the lessons, and when the classes will occur? Do the scheduling challenges affect when and how you will plan with other teachers?
The second graders come into the library for one hour once each week. Three of the four lessons will occur on these visits. The unit will take four weeks from start to finish. We will do the majority of our collaboration with the classroom teachers during the planning period (teacher do have a set planning period, though it is not during the same time as the SLMS's planning period), since the SLMSs teach a kindergarten class during their weekly planning time. Collaborating through email isn’t ideal because of the time delay of responses and idea generating, but this is a challenge we must face.

5. What are the technology skills of the students and the teachers? How do you plan to work around these considerations?
The students’ technology skills are varied. Although the students are able to use many different types of software once they start an application, their reading and learning disabilities inhibit their access to many programs. They have trouble initiating searches, following step-by-step directions and staying focused for a significant period of time.

The teachers are proficient with the technology that is relevant to their lessons, and the SLMS will be there to guide all of the technological components of the lessons. We will plan on using as much technology as the students can handle comfortably.

Because of the issues that can arise from the students’ learning disabilities, we will help them access the technology resources as seamlessly as possible. We will type in the web addresses and save them as bookmarks so that the students’ reading disabilities won’t cause them extra frustration during our lessons. We will also do the majority of reading aloud so we don’t embarrass the students that are still not able to read on their own. Because of the learning issues, the class sizes are already small. Each class comes into the library in half groups of no more than five or six students at a time. This small group size will be beneficial to our lesson because it will ensure that we can assist all of the students.

6. What are the level of resources that you have? Number of computers? Internet access? Mobile devices? etc etc. How does the level of technology access you have link to how you're implementing your lessons?
In the library, we have a smart board, four desktops and 12 laptops. With this quantity of computers, all of the students will be able to have access to their own computer. In the classroom there is a smart board. We will make sure to reserve the laptops ahead of time to ensure that another class won’t be using them when we need them.

7. What kind of policy challenges will you face? Are certain sites blocked? Will certain projects (for example social media projects) pose professional/ethical concerns? How will you get around these?
As of now, there is a policy that filters very little software and we have checked the websites and programs ahead of time to ensure that they are not blocked. The only issue that could arise for us is: “what happens if the internet goes out?” We have had this happen a few times this year, and if it happens during our lesson, we won’t be able to continue with our scheduled activities. The alternative will be to push the lesson back a week and turn this four week unit into a five week unit. If this happens we will pre-select some books on folktales and have an alternate filler activity for the students.

8. What about technology failures (i.e. a site is down, a computer is offline etc.). How will you plan for these possibilities?
For the first lesson, if the smart board failed, we would resort to using a poster for the Venn diagram. For the second lesson, if the databases were down, we would resort to using the reference section. We would be able to help the students find materials in the reference section that are appropriate for their reading and grade levels. For the third lesson, we would resort to using a poster instead of the smart board. For the final lesson, we would be able to conduct it the way we have planned if the Internet went out, but if the computers were not working we would have to postpone the lesson until the following week. During the technology failure, we would switch to a story hour and read different variations of folktales.

9. Think of other contexts that apply to your specific scenario.
This scenario of developing a multicultural folktale using multiple technologies is applicable to many other contexts. Students can use the research knowledge they will have gained and apply it to other research projects. They will use the technology skills they develop while using Pixe to create other artistic projects. They will need the foundation of information organization skills in just about any future educational setting. This lesson introduces the students to a variety of technologies, exposure to which will broaden their learning scope and allow them to adapt those skills in the future.

The Materials and Technology Tools You will Need

Smart Board
Teacher will guide students through the lessons:
  • Lesson #1 - Teacher uses smart board to collaborate on a Venn Diagram with the students.
  • Lesson #2 - Teacher uses smart board to re-familiarize the students with the vetted databases and basic research skills.
  • Lesson #3 - Teacher uses smart board to discuss the day’s assignment and collaborate with students to create visual for the multicultural folktale.
  • Lesson #4 - Teacher uses smart board to cover the basics of Pixie with students and go over the assignment of the day.

Weebly Website w/ Vetted Databases
The Weebly Website was created to make it easy for the second grade students to stay focused on the internet while they research different cultural aspects of their chosen countries.
Subscription Databases: You can provide access to the databases at your disposal that are appropriate for second graders.

Graphic Organizer (#1) (Lesson Two)
Students will use it to visualize cultural aspects of a particular country.

Graphic Organizer (#2) (Lesson Three)
Students will use it to visually organize cultural aspects of their country.

Pixie Program
Students will use this in the fourth lesson to create their individual page for the class’s multicultural folktale.

Little Bird Tales Website
Teacher will create the five page multicultural folktale by uploading each student’s Pixie drawing to this site.

The Implementation & Assignments
The entire unit takes place over the course of four weeks, one week per lesson plan. Each weekly lesson has its own assessment as stated in the individual lesson plans. The ultimate assignment is a Pixie-created drawing that includes the sentence that is one page of the total five page story. The librarian will then upload that story to “Little Bird Tales.” The librarian and teacher have a rubric for the final that is included in Lesson Four.

The Lessons
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Additional Documents
Graphic Organizer #1
Graphic Organizer #2
Assessment Rubric