For Educators

Lesson 1: It’s All Part of the Story

Eagle feathers Grades 8-12
Subject: Language Arts/Theater
Estimated Time of Completion: five to eight 50-minute periods

  1. Summary
  2. Objectives
  3. Materials Needed
  4. Procedure
  5. Classroom Assessment
  6. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. National Standards
I. Summary

Speaking is our primary way to communicate a powerful narrative. However, communication does not stop with the spoken word. All cultures have told stories enhancing them with body language, food, dance, art, music, storytelling, drama, crafts, literature and religious rites. Storytelling reflects our rich cultural and religious heritage of the generations before us, and it leads us to understand how our past has influenced our present. Use this plan to become a better storyteller and learn to share your story while learning to appreciate stories from others.

II. Objectives
  • The student will demonstrate their ability to show emotion or actions by pantomiming, improvising, retelling, role-playing and dramatizing.
  • The student will demonstrate their ability to create various types of stories that include symbolic ones, explanations of nature, learning and teaching lessons of life, why stories and survival accounts.
  • The student will demonstrate an ability to develop characters in drama.
  • The student will interpret text and make judgments by using prior knowledge and experience.
  • The students will explore different literary themes as they engage in the process of generating ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing or presenting.
III. Materials Needed
  • Pencil and paper
  • The board and chalk, an overhead and transparency or another presentation device
  • Computer with Internet access
  • LCD projector, or another type of computer projection device
  • Any props, music, food, etc. that may be needed for storytelling (optional)
IV. Procedure

(Class 1)

  1. Have students imagine that they must live off of only two food items for the next week. Have students imagine if they couldn’t eat anything but those two items for the next week what two food items would they prefer. Ask students to write down their two food item preference.
  2. Ask for volunteers to read their food preference list aloud. Have students brainstorm what their food list preference might tell about a person. Ask students to explain why they have chosen these particular food items. Discuss food preferences of different cultures (Mexican, Chinese, Native American, etc.). How and why do the food preferences differ?
  3. Have students listen to Rosella Archdale discuss her culture in the Storytellers section of the CIRCLE OF STORIES site http://www.pbs.org/circleofstories/. Emphasize her feelings and her explanations of the meaning of food to her culture. Discuss the traditional meal that she is preparing. Discuss the significance and purpose of the foods chosen. Have the students notice and discuss the family involvement in preparing foods. Have the students react to some of the traditional beliefs (i.e., do not taste the food until it has been offered to the spirits).
  4. Have students brainstorm some conclusions that they might draw from this Native American as she discusses food. Where have her thoughts on food originated? Ask the students to reflect on the food discussed. Have students discuss their food memories. Ask them to share traditional family foods and recipes with the group. Ask the students about their stories that focus on food or family gatherings. If there are different cultures in the class, allow those students to comment on their culture’s food preferences. Have students write a memory that they have concerning food or food preparation.

(Class 2)

  1. Have students listen to the story of Corbin Harney and his confrontation with a bear in the Many Voices: Storytelling Gallery on the CIRCLE OF STORIES site http://www.pbs.org/circleofstories/. Have students relate their own stories that involve animals by oral or written means. Have students react to his message of taking care of “Mother Earth.” Have students pay attention to the importance of song and dance in this storytelling episode. Have students listen to the audio version of his Shoshone songs. Explore corresponding multimedia components and learn more about Corbin Harney at the Cultural Conservancy site http://www.nativeland.org.
  2. Discuss the message of the stories told by Corbin Harney. Discuss in what ways students are responsible for “Mother Earth.” What can students do to ensure that the resources of the earth are being used wisely? Why is it important to continue the culture of the Native Americans and others? What is being done to ensure cultural preservation? Have students write down an opportunity or a time that they had to help preserve something (water, plants, songs, dance, language, crafts, etc.).
  3. Have students listen to Tchin tell the “Rabbit's Wish For Snow” story in the Storytellers section and then have students listen to his comments about Native Americans and the various tribes in the Many Voices: Storytelling Gallery and the We Are Here: Culture Gallery of the CIRCLE OF STORIES site http://www.pbs.org/circleofstories/.
  4. Have students listen to the explanation of how the rabbit came to look the way it does when years ago it looked so different. Allow the students to discuss how Tchin told the story to maintain the audience interest and participation.

(Class 3)

  1. Have students listen to Hoskie Benally as he tells “The Five Sacred Medicines” story in the Storytellers section of the CIRCLE OF STORIES Web site http://www.pbs.org/circleofstories/. Have students listen to parts of the audio version in his original language.
  2. Discuss storytelling with students. Have students brainstorm where they might find stories to retell. Discuss oral histories. (A teacher may want to relate that stories have been told from even before Biblical times. A teacher might want to share with students that the stories of Gilgamesh are some of the earliest surviving writings appearing on cuneiform tablets. A teacher might also provide students with some information about other myths, legends, and folktales that have been retold.)
  3. Return to the site featuring Rosella, and have the students notice and discuss the connection between her religious beliefs and her stories of the past. How might religious beliefs differ among cultures? How might these beliefs affect storytelling or oral history? Discuss the implications of how cultural and religious beliefs affect Harney and Benally’s stories. Have students compare and contrast the stories told by the three storytellers: Archdale, Benally, and Harney.

(Class 4)

  1. Students will practice essential skills to improve storytelling before actually telling stories. This will provide students with an opportunity to warm up to audiences, break the ice, and allow them to gain confidence before actually telling original stories. Have students participate in each (or at least some) of the following activities:
    • Pantomime — Have students use facial expressions, gestures, and movements to reveal emotion and situation. Students might act out and/or mime emotions that might be displayed during storytelling. Play a game “Pass my Emotion” where the first person pantomimes an emotion and each person in turn mimics the emotion (sad, happy, disgusted, glad, disappointed, terrified, etc.)
    • Improvisation — Have students use spontaneous dialogue and action to present a story. Have students work in pairs. The teacher will have students draw a familiar situation and have students improvise their explanations (tell your parents that you have made a failing grade, wrecked the family car, or that you are the one that has eaten the cake Mom baked for a special occasion, tell the teacher that you don’t have your homework, tell a friend that you borrowed her textbook and lost it). For more information and ideas visit http://www.yesand.com.
    • Role Playing — Have students work in small groups to role-play common situations (a small segment of a favorite book, a segment from a favorite television show, an event from the news, etc.).
    • Dramatic or Choral Reading — Have student or students write a poem or brief monologue and read it aloud to the class. Allow students to read alone or allow it to be read in a choral reading. Discuss voice, tone, mood, and inflection.
    • Conversation — Students will then write a brief conversation between two friends, animals, or enemies, gods, or objects of nature such as a conversation between the moon and sun. (Examples: A telephone conversation between two friends, lunchroom conversation, or conservation at a birthday party.)

(Class 5-6)

  1. The teacher should use the CIRCLE OF STORIES Web site to discuss several different types of stories and provide students with activities and examples of these to provide a familiarity with types of stories that they might share with others. Relate the stories heard and place them in the correct story type category from those below. Provide examples of each of these types and then ask students to tell a story of each of these suggested categories. Stories may be original or retold from another source. If retold, students should be asked to share the source of the story before beginning their tale.

(Class 7)

  1. As the concluding activity, have an “I Remember When” story day. Each of the students will share a story orally in class that emphasizes a student’s personal event, a historical event, a personal memory, or a story that was told to them that remains in their family. The stories must follow these rules:
    • It must begin with.....“I Remember When”
    • The story must be between 3 and 10 minutes.
    • You are allowed to use posters, dress, food or any other prop or chart to enhance the storytelling. It is not required.
    • This story has to be original. It can be a historical event that touched the student’s life somehow. It can be a personal memory as a birthday party or a death. It can be a personal event such as their first dentist appointment or their first day at school. It might be a story that was told to them about a family member, event or explanation of their belief or culture.
    • It would be good to look over the rubrics for oral storytelling at the end of this plan.
V. Classroom Assessment

In assessing the dramatic activities, the teacher may have previously decided upon a specific, targeted skill to evaluate; however, the suggested rubric allows the teacher to target both written and/or oral expression in the above activities.

Suggested Rubric for Storytelling Activities

I. Ideas, Thoughts and Organization

  1. The student has chosen a broad and uninteresting topic. The speaker has not made an attempt at any organization. The story has weak or inaccurate content, logic, and/or does not maintain the audience’s interest. Thoughts not organized and coherent, details lacking or unclear, no clear thesis statement, lacking a concluding sentence.
  2. The story has an uninteresting or broad topic. The story has poor organization, but does demonstrate an attempt at organization. It has weak content, logic and fails to maintain the audience’s interest. Thoughts are lacking development, missing a main idea, lacking a conclusion or minus details.
  3. The story has a narrowed and interesting topic. The story contains adequate organization, and it has fair content, logic and interest. There are a few irrelevant details. There is weak to fair development with a main idea, details and conclusion.
  4. The story has a strong, clear, interesting and narrowed topic. The speech is organized containing a topic sentence, details, and concluding statement. It also has great content, logic, and maintains the audience’s interest. There is excellent development with strong details, main idea and conclusion.

II. Sentences

  1. Many fragments and/or run-on sentences have been used. There are frequent mistakes in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
  2. There are some obvious fragments and run-on sentences that have been used. There are some mistakes in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
  3. There are very few fragments and run-on sentences that have been used. There are very few mistakes in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
  4. There are no fragments and run-on sentences that have been used. There are no mistakes in grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.

III. Tone

  1. Storytelling fails to convey any enthusiasm, confidence or effort to prepare. Student makes little or no eye contact, does not move appropriately and makes no attempt at effective use of voice.
  2. Storytelling conveys enthusiasm, confidence and effort to prepare. Student makes eye contact, moves appropriately and makes an attempt at effective use of voice.
  3. Storytelling conveys some enthusiasm, confidence and effort to prepare. Student makes fair eye contact, moves appropriately sometimes and makes some attempt at effective use of voice.
  4. Storytelling conveys enthusiasm, confidence and effort to prepare. Student makes eye contact, moves appropriately and makes an attempt at effective use of voice.

IV. Information

  1. Provides no supporting evidence, facts and ideas as needed. Information is not researched and is not accurate. The story told has no well-defined message (thesis). It fails to conform to time limits.
  2. Provides some supporting evidence, facts and ideas as needed. Information has been researched little or not at all and is not or only somewhat accurate. The story does not have a well-defined message (thesis), and does not conform to time limits.
  3. Provides some supporting evidence, facts and ideas as needed. Information is somewhat researched and accurate. The story attempts to articulate a well-defined message (thesis). It attempts to conform to time limits.
  4. Provides supporting evidence, facts and ideas as needed. Information is researched and accurate. The story articulates a well-defined message (thesis). It conforms to time limits.

V. Delivery

  1. Presentation contains poor grammar. Student does not articulate well. The story fails to demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter. The story does not support the assignment: informative, persuasive, entertaining, impromptu or extemporaneous. It may or may not be appropriately adapted to the audience.
  2. Presentation is articulated with fair grammar. The story demonstrates weak or poor knowledge of the subject matter. The story makes a poor attempt to support the assignment: informative, persuasive, entertaining, impromptu or extemporaneous. It is somewhat adapted to the audience.
  3. Presentation is articulated with adequate grammar. The story demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter. The story somewhat supports the assignment: informative, persuasive, entertaining, impromptu or extemporaneous. The speaker has attempted to adapt the presentation to the audience.
  4. Presentation is given with correct grammar and with great articulation. Story demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter. The story supports the assignment: informative, persuasive, entertaining, impromptu or extemporaneous. It is also adapted to the audience.

VI. Written Layout (applicable only if story is previously written before being presented)

  1. No title, insufficient margins, illegible handwriting, didn’t follow directions.
  2. Title present, but not correctly written, insufficient margins, illegible handwriting or typing, didn’t follow directions.
  3. Title is correctly written, but margins are questionable and/or illegible handwriting or typing.
  4. Appropriate title, correct margins, legible handwriting or typing.
VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  • Have students paint a picture that tells a story. Use it in storytelling.
  • Have students put their favorite stories in writing, illustrate them and bind them for a class book of stories.
  • Choose a favorite story and storyteller from the class and allow them to visit another classroom to tell their story to these students.
  • Consult with your public library and see if there is a local storyteller that would make a visit to your classroom.
  • Have students create a play based on a story handed down from past generations.
  • Have students retell a story using descriptive detail and dialogue.
  • If time permits, encourage students to tell a story with the addition of costumes and props.
VII. Relevant National Standards

This lesson addresses the following national content standards found in the McRel Standards Database at http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/docs/contents.html

Language Arts

  • The student will use strategies to adapt writing for different purposes (e.g., to explain, inform, analyze, entertain, reflect, and persuade).
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes.
  • Uses descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas (e.g., establishes tone and mood, uses figurative language, uses sensory images and comparisons, uses a thesaurus to choose effective wording).
  • Writes descriptive compositions (e.g. uses concrete details to provide a perspective on the subject being described; uses supporting detail).
  • Writes reflective compositions.
  • Writes in response to literature.
  • Uses a variety of verbal and nonverbal techniques for presentations and demonstrates poise and self-control while presenting.

Theater

  • Constructs imaginative scripts that convey story and meaning to an audience.
  • Improvises, writes, and refines scripts based on personal experience and heritage, imagination, literature, and history.

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