"It's All the Fault of Adam" is a Nigerian folktale told by Barbara Walker. It teaches a complex lesson about life choices. The main character, Iyapo, blames his meager existence on the sins of Adam. However, he was given opportunity to improve his lifestyle if he, like, Adam, can resist the temptation of something forbidden. It is a good selection for shared inquiry because it requires students to interpret the hidden meaning of happiness. Do wealth and material possessions determine one's happiness in life? Students compare and contrast both types of lifestyles as Iyapo experiences the pros and cons of both types of existence.
As I present the Shared Inquiry Flip Chart I focus on three types of questions that students need to understand: factual, interpretive, and evaluative. Once we review the definitions and examples, students learn that shared inquiry uses interpretive questions to guide its discussions because it requires text based evidence. Students do not need background information or personal experiences to answer interpretive questions because the answers can be attained right from the text.
The flip chart focuses on interpretive questions because they initiate thought provoking shared inquiry discussions. I also review the purpose for the fist and second reading to students. Multiple readings expose the deeper meaning and central message of a story. I review the instructions for first and second readings that is on the flip chart after discussing the purpose of each.
Because of the complexity of this text, I read the story aloud to my students for the first reading. As I read aloud, I instruct students to write sticky notes using symbols and phrases as follows:
+ anything important
? anything confusing
! anything that you feel strongly about
Students are informed to listen attentively because they will be sharing their notes at the end of this reading. I also tell them that there are hidden meanings in this story that requires them to become story detectives and find clues. Therefore, students are held accountable for note taking and writing their reactions to text and sticking their post its on that section of text that inspired these reactions.
I partner students who are compatible together for the second reading. They read together with their partners. Students convert their notes from the first reading into interpretive questions during their second reading. Students also use a Think Pair Share Rubric to make sure they are contributing wholeheartedly to their partners. The rubric gives ownership to the students because they are made accountable to their partners. Also, the rubric gives not just a numeric score, but also descriptive details on the quality of a responsible partner.
I circulate to observe student performance during their Second Reading discussions. To meet the rigorous demands laid out by Common Core, I know I must continually assess how my students are doing with the material.
At the end of this lesson, students share their interpretive questions with the class. We analyze these questions and select one for Day 2 of this lesson. Day 2 will focus on the shared inquiry discussion session using the selected interpretive question to guide the discussion. Students voted on the question they wanted to use for the Shared Inquiry discussion. I decided to give ownership to students in deciding the interpretive question because interest drives motivation. And motivation increases participation. The question students choose is: "Why did the wood cutter say 'It is all the fault of Adam ?'"
Students complete the partner rubric and partners give feed back to each other. Students constructively communicate their performance as well as their partners, using the rubric to indicate strengths and weaknesses in specific performance.