RUMFORD — What do “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White” and “Cinderella” have in common? Aside from being fairy tales with female characters, they were all part of a presentation at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. Held in Boston this year, the convention hosted almost 7,500 English teachers from all over the country.

Mountain Valley High School English teacher Meg Doughty teamed up with Marcia Nash, professor at University of Maine at Farmington; and Maggie Adams, teacher at Kingfield Elementary School; for the presentation. They provided participants with background knowledge and resources for incorporating folk and fairy tales into middle school, high school and college classrooms. They emphasized the history of tales, tools of inquiry for studying tales, modern adaptations, activities and assignments and connections to the Common Core.

Approximately 50 participants started with a fairy tale IQ quiz.

Doughty explained, “Generally speaking, if you answered with the Disney version of the fairy tale, you got it wrong.”

Nash covered the history of fairy tales, including the fact that fairies do not necessarily appear in fairy tales. She discussed the history of “Little Red Riding Hood,” the role of the wolf and even some tales with werewolves.

Then Doughty talked about Snow White.

“Snow White is a passive heroine,” Doughty explained. “She spends most of the story in a death-like state. People remember the dwarfs and the stepmother but not Snow White. To be more relevant to today’s readers, she has to be more active, which is why many modern retellings cast her in the role of a warrior princess.”

Adams discussed Cinderella stories, including the many cultural variations. More than 500 variations of the Cinderella story have been found in just Europe and the “original” Cinderella story is from China.

Doughty reflected, “All of us talked about how fairy tales are used in the modern day. People rewrite the stories to make them more relevant to a modern audience. But the old stories resonate with us as humans.”

The presentation resulted in two invitations for the presenters.

Doughty said, “At the end of the presentation, a representative from the New England Association of Teachers of English asked us to come to their annual conference to present and also to write a paper on our presentation for their magazine called The Leaflet.”

She continued, “Participants seemed to enjoy our presentation. We created a Wikispace with all of the links for the participants to use. Several of them have already downloaded information.”

Doughty’s session was chosen from more than 2,000 applications to present at the convention. While presenting at a national conference is an honor, Doughty noted additional benefits, “I just enjoyed being at the conference and having the opportunity to learn from nationally-known speakers.”

An avid reader, Doughty also enjoyed meeting several authors including Laurie Halse Anderson who wrote “Speak” as well as other young adult novels; Kelly Gallagher, who writes about teaching adolescents to read and be better writers; and Penny Kittle, a New Hampshire teacher who writes about her experience teaching writing.

Doughty budgeted for the conference fee but funded her travel and hotel expenses for the conference while RSU 10 footed the cost of a substitute teacher during her absence.


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