"The Wedding Basket" is an African folktale filled with mythical and cultural elements. It is both traditional and esoteric in nature. Folklore has a central message that requires students to delve deeper into the text in order to uncover both the lesson and supporting details.
I teach Common Core by asking students to read grade appropriate complex text and answer questions referring explicitly to text. This reading selection supports this standard by teaching students to ask questions to deepen understanding of the central message in the folktale.
The first step in this process is to introduce students to the goal of shared inquiry via a Shared Inquiry Promethean Shared Inquiry Flip Chart presentation. I show this flip chart in the beginning of every Shared Inquiry lesson so that students are all on the same page. We discuss any questions students have regarding the procedure and the reasons why we are conducting this activity. Having this discussion prior to the activity not only establishes the goal of shared inquiry, but adds meaning to the lesson and gives students ownership of their learning.
Students often have difficulty asking questions that are higher order. It is important for students to ask and answer questions that focus on key details of text in order to increase comprehension. So, I introduce Bloom's Question Stems that students may use as starting points. The question stems are to promote higher order synthesis and evaluation questions from Bloom's Taxonomy. I will distribute these question stems later in this lesson when students develop their own interpretive questions. Asking higher order questions using the Bloom's question stems leads to complex questions that probe students to delve deeper into the text and lead to more profound levels of comprehension.
I explain to students that reading stories multiple times will help them better understand because each reading is focused on a different purpose. The first reading, I chose to read aloud. The purpose of this first reading is to get help with vocabulary and clear misunderstandings. Also, reading aloud and modeling reading with appropriate expressions levels the playing field for students regardless of different reading levels.
I distribute Post-It Notes for students to write their initial reactions to the story as follows;
+ anything important
? anything puzziling
! anything students feel strongly about
Students may also write vocabulary words under ? if they find it puzzling. This is the starting point for interpretive thinking.
During the second reading, students read with a partner and discuss ways to convert their initial notes into interpretive questions. I pair students because it allows more critical thinking. When students are paired, they are able to discuss to clarify ideas about a story's meaning, check these ideas together based on text evidence, and consider alternate ideas. Discussing alternate ideas with each other may adjust an interpretation. There are various ways to pair students. I chose to pair students randomly because I expect students to develop interpersonal skills. However, students can be paired with regards to personalities (how they get along) or ability levels (pair a high reader with a lower one). I distribute a Pair-Share Rubric to guide students to work in pairs cooperatively and effectively.
I distribute a different color post it notes for students to write their interpretive questions and post these questions on the page that inspired them. Students are to covert their ideas and reactions to interpretive questions. I also distribute the Bloom's Question Stems that we discussed in the first section of this lesson to facilitate student generated higher order questions.
Students share the Interpretive Questions they develop with their partners. They discuss their reactions to their first reading that led to these questions. I ask students to select only one of their favorites for consideration to lead our shared inquiry discussion. We analyze for frequency those questions arose and the quality of the interpretive question. After discussion and analysis, we select one question. Our selected interpretive questions is: "Why did the man see nothing in the basket, while the woman saw something?"