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En) Discovering African Influences in American Culture Writing for Understanding Overview In this Writing for Understanding activity, students learn about Africanisms—practices, traditions, and items in American culture that have their roots in African culture. Working in pairs, students examine eight placards, each of which contains an image—such as break dancers, a doctor giving a vaccination, and an elder telling a story to a young person—that reflects an Africanist in American culture. For each placard, pairs locate the corresponding written description posted on a wall. After reading the description, pairs take notes on the African tradition and how it has influenced American traditions, Next, students stand on a spectrum to represent the influence of each Africanism on their community today. Finally, students write a letter to an African friend explaining which African traditions have survived in America and how they have influenced American traditi Procedures at a Glance Before class, divide your students into mixed-ability pairs and post Student Information 4.2A on the walls, Explain to students that they will be analyzing eight placards depicting Africanisms. Give cach pair one of Placards 4.2A through 4.2H to examine, and have them find the corresponding written description of it on the wall. Then have pairs take notes about the African tradition and its influence on American traditions on Student Handout 4.2B, When pairs finish with a placard, review their work and give them a new placard, Continue this until all pairs have analyzed most of the placards. Then, have students stand on a spectrum that represents the influence of Africanisms on their community. Finally, project ‘Transparency Master 2.4C, and review the guidelines for writing a letter to an African friend explaining which African traditions have influenced Ametican traditions, bs (© “Teaches” Curio laste “2 Procedures In Detail L, This activity is designed to introduce students to Africanisms—practices, traditions, and items in American culture that have their roots in African culture, By leaming how eight African traditions—dance, folk art, folklore, food, language, medicine, oral tradition, and religion—have shaped aspects of American language and culture, students will better understand ways in which African culture has enriched American culture. 2. Before class, post cach page of Student Information 4,2A on the classroom walls. Below the page “Oral Tradition,” place a CD player ready to play Track 18, which is a 55-second recording of a preacher in Virginia in 1963. (Note: Remind students to play the CD at this station to hear the preacher.) Place your students in mixed-ability pairs. Prepare an overhead transparency that shows students who their partners are and how (© arrange their desks, Project the transparency, and ask students to move into their correct places. Idea for Student Response: On the left side of their notebooks, have students make a list of at least three family traditions. For example, students might list family remedies for colds or flus, favorite family foods, unique ways their families celebrate holidays, or uncommon words their families use in conversation, Then, ask students if they know the origins of these traditions. Afterward, tell students they will learn about how American traditions have been influenced by African traditions. 3. Tell students that they will learn about Africanisms—practices, traditions, and items in American culture that have their roots in African culture. Use the following information to explain how Africanisms developed in American culture: When Africans were brought to the United States as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from West and Central Africa, they brought with them a wide variety of cultural traditions. While the enslaved Africans were forced to take on aspects of their new culture, they also kept many of the traditions of their homeland, incorporating them into their daily life in America. Through regular contact with imported European traditions, these African traditions evolved and changed, often creating a fusion of European and African cultures that became part of American culture. But Africanisms, as the name implies, are rooted in African traditions. Some areas where Africanisms can be best seen today are dance, folk art, folklore, food, language, medicine, oral tradition, and religion. 126 Modem Attica © Teachers Cuticuum site a «2 4, Once students have been introduced to the term Afticanisms, pass out a copy of Student Handout 4.2B: Understanding Africanisms to each student and one of Placards 4.2A. through 4.2H to each pait, Tell pairs to examine the image on the placard carefully, then circulate through the room to try to find the written description that corresponds with the picture on their placard, After they locate the corresponding written description, have them read it carefully, and then summarize the information about the African tradition and its influence on American traditions in the appropriate spaces on Student Handout 4.2B. (Note: Because students will be writing an illustrated letter about Africanisms, you may want to have them record viswal information on the handout to include in their letter:) Before students begin, you may want to demonstrate this process once with the class, 5. When each pair of students finishes with a placard, have one partner bring the placard and Student Handout 4.2B to you. Use the Teacher's Guide to Placards to check the students’ notes for accuracy and thoroughness. If students’ answers are accurate, award them points (optionally), and give them a new placard, Continue this procedure until most pairs have had a chance to examine most of the placards. 6. Toward the end of the activity, tell pairs that the placard on which they are currently working is the one they will place on a spectrum and present to the class. Give them a few extra minutes to make sure they thoroughly understand that Africanism., Wrap Up 1, Create a spectrum by placing a 10- to 15-foot piece of masking tape across the floor in the front of the class. On the chalkboard behind either end of the spectrum write “Africanism Influences Our Community Today” and “Africanism Does Not Influence Our Community Today.” 2. Explain to students what a spectrum is, ‘Tell them that they will explore the degree to which Africanisms influence their community today, (Note: You may want to clarify with the class what you are defining as your “community.”) Have each pair take two to three minutes to discuss where on the spectrum they would place the Africanism on their placard. Then ask one student in each pair to come forward, stand on the spectrum where they think their Africanism belongs, and hold their placard in front of their chest. 3. Once students are standing on the spectrum, allow students to question the placement of the Africanisms on the spectrum, Assume the role of devil’s advocate by challenging students to defend their placement by referring to evidence in their notes, Encourage lively discussion on the relative influence of these Africanisms on their community today. © Teachers’ Curiculam Istiure Modem Alisa 127