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Lesson Plan

American Folklore: A Jigsaw Character Study

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American Folklore: A Jigsaw Character Study

Grades 3 – 6
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute Sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Collaborative groups will read a variety of American tall tales, then report elements of their story to the whole class. Students add story information to a collaborative, whole-class character study matrix that summarizes all the stories. In a writing activity, students compare two characters of their choice. Support for English Language Learners (ELLs) is embedded in the guided collaborative process, while the content of the stories adds to all students' knowledge of American culture and history. The stories used in the lesson include well known and lesser-known diverse characters. The lesson process is applicable to any set of related texts.

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Jigsaw  Group Discussion Worksheet: Students use this worksheet within their groups to plan and understand their roles.

Character Study Matrix Sample: This matrix is used as a sample to be reproduced for whole-class discussion and study.

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Through her study of traditional folk tales, Robin Mello found that "...the telling of traditional texts in educational environments enriches the linguistic life of students. This enrichment, in turn, can influence classroom discussion and the development of language skills.  Stories can also furnish students with a broader cultural lens with which to explore the world. Therefore, educators are encouraged to use stories as models for teaching literacy skills, encouraging critical thinking and reflection, as well as presenting multicultural and equitable perspectives."

In this collaborative group lesson, a modified jigsaw technique is used in a literature lesson in which students compare characters and plot points of folk tales.

Further Reading

Mello, Robin.   "Cinderella Meets Ulysses."  Language Arts, Vol. 78, No. 6 (July 2001): 548-556.

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