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Here are some ideas that include differentiated instruction using Sternberg's KUD (Know, Understand, Do) model. For cultural studies and social science it is crucial to assess whether the student really conceptualizes the complexity of terms such as culture-mores, social expectations and the difference between forced rules of behavior versus folkways.
In a KUD activity, have them complete three tasks: The K task involves doing a group reading on what is a folkway, what is a culture-more, examples of each, the implications of both in society, and the way in which the two are similar or different from each other. Basically this is the one center from which your students will gather informational materials provided by you, with examples, lists of traits, etc. Here is where they "meet" the concepts. Allow them to search in the computer and build concept maps as they understand at their own pace.
In the U task, they must paraphrase the information that they read in a journal entry, using their own words and target phrases, and providing an example of each concept.Here, they will show their understanding of the topic. This will give you a wonderful chance to assess whether they are following well, or not.
In the "D" task they are to list what they feel are their very own mannerisms and folkways as they can recognize them in themselves. Ask them to correlate these folkways to those of their other family members. Ask them to make connections and to write them down either in a graphic organizer, or in an essay-format.
Another activity may involve exposing them to literature containing specific examples of folkways and culture-mores. Offer the option of doing a character study from a short story, or to create a group observation of the social and cultural norms of folkways contained in the text. A great story that comes to mind is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World". After the students conduct a group reading, they can make write their observations on the social norms of the group of the town where the man appeared.
In a separate group activity, and all of these can be done as separate tasks to be completed by one same class at its own pace, offer the option of creating comparison charts seeking out the similarities (NOT the differences, that's the catch) on two completely different social groups in terms of what are expected behaviors, or typical mannerisms. This is an application activity, so be sure to offer it only after the concepts of "norms", and "folkways" are assessed.
Since you mentioned reading companions, additional stories to consider are William Faulkner's "Barn Burning", Gish Jen's "Who's Irish", and Alice Walker's "Everyday Use", among many others. These stories all show folkways and a character that clashes against them. Ask your students, what may motivate an individual to deny his own folkways and mores? Hence, invite students to create their own essential questions once they reach a level of in-depth understanding.
I hope this is what you are looking for!
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