Lesson: Native American Creation Myths I
Objective: Students identify explanatory function of myths
Students recognize influence of culture on story-telling techniques
Students perform compare & contrast analysis using myths and prior knowledge
Essential Questions: (write on board)
How do Native American myths explain the creation of the world?
How is this similar to or different from Christian explanations?
Do people from different cultures tell stories in different ways?
Question Packet + projection of packet
American Indian Creation Myths
Anticipatory Set: (10 min)
Tell students that we will begin our study of myths by looking at several different creation myths. These tell the story of how the world and human beings were made. Ask volunteers to explain the story they believe about how the world was made. You may choose to give disclaimers about religious objectivity. You may choose to write outlines of the stories they believe on the board to help them later in comparisons.
Input: (10 min)
Tell students that there are many different cultures among Native Americans and some are completely different than others, but some are related in certain ways. Ask students why two Native American cultures might be the same. Ask students why they might be different. Solicit lists of reasons.
Introduce Teresa Pijoan’s book by telling students the divisions of myths by “place” of origin and then by language family. Relate this to previous discussion.
Tell students that for each myth we will look for several things. We will look for understanding of the story, the sequence of events (Define Sequence), the functions the myth serves in explaining the world, and ways of telling stories that are different in various Native American cultures from European-American culture. This last element will become clearer as the lesson goes on.
Present students with the topographical map and help them find the home area of the Pawnee. Present students with pages 20-21 of the coloring book and have them complete the Pre-Reading Questions. Students who wish to may color the picture while listening to the story (ideal for hyperactive auditory learners).
Guided Practice: (45 min)
Ask students at random to read comprehension questions aloud so that students know what to look out for while reading.
Read the story aloud with students following along. You may choose to use popcorn reading if students do not have anxiety about reading aloud, or if that is emphasized in your class.
Students are still new to the QAR structure, so re-define each type of question as it is encountered. You may choose to call on a student who can explain how to find an appropriate answer given the type of question.
Read and discuss questions aloud, giving students time to write their answers. Reframe inappropriate answers to follow the prescribed format. You may choose to write the appropriate answer on the overhead while projecting the question packet.
Allow students about 10 minutes to begin working on the Post-Reading Analysis questions on their own before going through them together. Model the compare and contrast process and 2 paragraph essay model using the overhead projector.
Independent Work: (25 min)
After pointing out the Cahuilla home area on the topographical map, distribute pages 24-25, the Cahuilla myth. Ask students to read it in groups of 4, with one person paying particular attention to each of the four foci and make a Venn diagram comparing it to the first myth.
When students finish, ask them to write another two paragraph essay comparing and contrasting the Pawnee and Cahuilla myths.
Conclusion/Assessment: (5 min)
Student write in Language Arts journal in response to prompt:
What, do you think, is the most important lesson a Cahuilla child would learn from hearing this myth?
What would be an appropriate title for this myth if it had one?
Vocab to Watch Out For:
Compare vs. contrast
What went well?
What would you change?
What needs explanation?
Students were able to answer comprehension questions very well. Students were able to pick up on a wide variety of levels of differences between the myths. For example, some were only able to identify gender differences, but some noticed differences in sequence, and some noticed differences in functions of the myths. This was impressive and enriched the experience for all.
Some students might benefit from the same level of questioning as in the packet for both myths in order to maintain focus.
It is really important to establish respect for other cultures before beginning or you can encounter everything from snickering at unusual names to outright mocking of “absurd” beliefs.