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6-8 Core Literature Themes and Connections

Cow-Tail Switch by Harold Courlander
This is a collection of West African stories including one about a great warrior who is lost when three of his sons who were magicians go looking for him. They came upon his broken spear and a pile of bones. The first son assembled the bones into a skeleton; the second son put flesh upon the bones; the third son breathed life into the flesh. But the youngest son received the gift of the switch because he was the one who remembered him. Moral of the story is that a person is not truly dead, until he is forgotten.

7th grade Core Literature

Key Concepts and Vocabulary Words
plot, retell, storytelling, magician, version, character, descriptive language, death, remembrance, masks

Themes
Storytelling, Africa

 

English/Language Arts

Theme Questions


Websites


Extensions/ Activities

How can storytelling encourage students to explore and communicate?
What makes a good storyteller?

Story Arts: Stories in a Nutshell
http://www.storyarts.org/library/nutshell/stories/gift.html
This site is on storytelling, lesson plans and activities on storytelling plus how to use storytelling in the classroom.

Read the Cow-Tail Switch aloud. Have students create a continuing storytelling session in which a story is begun and then left open-ended at a crucial point. The next day the story is completed and a new one begun and left open-ended at an exciting moment.

7th Grade Language Arts Content Standards
3.0 Literary Response
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
3.2 Identify events that advance the plot and determine how each event explains past or present action(s) or foreshadows future action(s).
3.3 Analyze characterization as delineated through a character's thoughts, words, speech patterns, and actions; the narrator's description; and the thoughts, words, and actions of other characters.

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History/Social Science

Theme Questions


Websites


Extensions/ Activities

How did Africa’s people and culture affect the global community?

African Voices
http://www.mnh.si.edu/africanvoices/
This beautiful site by the Smithsonian Institute includes information and pictures of the history, culture, and people of Africa.

Trace the history of African journeys including travels as slaves to other continents. Have students create a timeline of African people, places, and times.

7th Grade History/Social Science
7.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.
5. Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African history and culture.

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Art

Theme Questions


Websites


Extensions/ Activities

How did art play a large part in African culture? Why are masks important to African traditions and culture?

African Masks
http://www.my-ecoach.com/resources/masks/
This site by Leilani Carbonell researches mask creation, provides steps on how to make masks, gives student examples of masks, and information on how to research the tribe of that mask.

Have students research African tribes and their masks and then create a mask with paper-machier.

7th Grade Viusual and Performing Arts
Role and Development of the Visual Arts
3.1 Research and describe how art reflects cultural values in various traditions throughout the world.
Diversity of the Visual Arts
3.2 Compare and contrast works of art from various periods, styles, and cultures and explain how those works reflect the society in which they were made.

 

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