Gender Identity & Gender Roles

The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band

Author(s): Joan Stuchner


Social Justice focus: Gender roles

Synopsis: The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band is a group of travelling musicians who play at weddings, parties, dances, and bar mitzvahs in Maritime Canada. Ten-year-old Shira longs to be a fiddler but her father objects since a girl has never been in a klezmer band. Nevertheless, the star fiddler Isaac notices Shira watching him and makes her a fiddle. She practices and practices, and when the chance comes, she takes over for Isaac. Her parents relent and present her with her own fiddle. Rich illustrations.

Lesson Plan: Daniel Du

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Language Arts – Reading & Writing

Grade: 4

Lesson: The focus of the lesson will be the use of a cultural lens to bring to light a social issue while also increasing the interpretation and writing skills of the students. (45 mins)

Lens: Cultural and Inclusive Education

Curriculum Areas: Social Studies: Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada 1780-1850

Curriculum Expectations:


2 – recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate understanding of how they help communicate meaning

2.1 – explain how the particular characteristics of various text forms help communicate meaning, with a focus on literary texts such as a diary or journal

2.3 – identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts


1 – generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience

1.1 – identify the topic, purpose, and audience for a variety of writing forms

1.2 – generate ideas about a potential topic using a variety of strategies and resources

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

  • As a group, read the picture book as a group and identify the conflict that is occurring within the characters.
  • Identify a prevalent social issue that occurs in the book that is also prevalent in the lives of students in the present day.
  • Generate ideas and examples of relevant personal experiences based on prompts.
  • Produce a written product that organizes a unique set of novel information and present it in a creative way.

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

I can understand how a written piece is created for a specific audience based on its components (i.e. visuals, back cover summaries, pacing)

I can compare and contrast the social justice issue that occurs in the book to some present-day experiences.

I can create a creative written product that introduces a brand-new culture based on a unique set of cultural characteristics.


Oral group reading will be able to accommodate students with a lower reading level.

For the writing portion, a spoken delivery of the product can be created with prompts from the teacher.

Students who are less comfortable sharing personal experiences or their cultural traditions can instead choose to create a writing journal response based on the prompts given in the worksheet.

Minds-on: How will I connect to prior and future learning? How will I engage students and set the context for learning?

Minutes: 15 minutes


Students will read the book “The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band” by Joan Betty Stuchner and Richard Brow. Volunteers will be responsible for reading one page of the book in front of the class and then the next volunteer will be responsible for another page.

After the book is finished, students will be asked to give an initial reaction to the book. Following that, the teacher will ask some critical literacy questions. After each question, students will be encouraged to discuss with their elbow partner on what their response would be. Questions include:

  • Was there a personal connection where you felt a similar frustration to Shira when her desire to learn the fiddle was dismissed?
  • What was the cultural, geographical, and time-period setting of the book? How was the setting used to create the narrative and drive it forward?
  • Has your attitude towards learning a new skill changed after hearing this story?

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

An anecdotal checklist on learning skills can be used to assess student participation and engagement during this portion of the lesson

Action How will I introduce new learning / reinforce prior learning / practice learning / scaffold learning?

Minutes: 20 Minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

Students will be given the handout called the “Klezmer Band Activity” (see attached at the end of the lesson plan). They will first create a written response to the first question. If there is difficulty coming up with an answer, the teacher can prompt the students by giving a personal example. (i.e. I practiced a lot of clarinet back in Middle School, but it was difficult for me to show my talent

Afterwards, they will engage in a cultural mosaic scavenger hunt. By mingling with other students in the class, individual students need to complete their cultural mosaic with unique cultural characteristics from four different cultures. Essentially what they will create is a hybridized cultural mosaic which contains holidays, food, art, and geographical characteristics from multiple cultures around the world.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

The completion of the worksheet will act as an exit card for the class and it can be formatively evaluated for learning skills and assessment as learning.

Consolidation How will I reflect on the learning goal? How will I have students reflect on the learning goal?

Minutes: 10 minutes + homework time

Task: Students are to create a short, written piece that shares the unique hybrid culture that they’ve created during the class. The audience and perspective of the piece can be fairly open-ended. Students can write as someone who is describing the cultural customs as if they were their own. The article can also be written as a report from a third party.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?
Students will hand in this written piece and will be graded using a rubric based on the third success criteria.


  • 1 or more copies of “The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band” book
  • A copy of the handout Klezmer Band Activity for every student

REFLECTION: Questions to determine the success of your lesson:

  • Were my students successful in meeting the learning goals and success criteria? How do I know?
  • Did my critical literacy questions incite interesting and meaningful discussion?
  • Did the activity work well and were the students comfortable in sharing their cultural characteristics?
  • What will I do differently in the future when teaching this lesson? For the subsequent lesson?

Kugel Valley Klezmer Band Activity Handout


What is a secret talent that you have that you spend a lot of time practicing?

Cultural Mosaic

Take something from your culture that is unique and add it to one aspect of the mosaic. Combine this aspect with three other members of the classroom to create a cultural mosaic.


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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