Reviewing Creation Myths and Trickster Tales: A Class Review
Lesson 4 of 7
Objective: SWBAT cite strong and thorough textual evidence and clarify word meanings through participation in class review in order demonstrate understanding of the key elements in Native American creation myths.
It's also National Dog Day, so I quickly poll students on who considers themselves a dog-person, a cat-person, and an iguana-person. This serves and a formal introduction to the "Friday Favorite" vote, the classroom community activity in which I take a few minutes out of every Friday t poll the class: a choice between two options, to a more elaborate survey, to a "Would You Rather" style question. Since we have Friday off this week, I wanted to introduce the idea today. As with all Daily Holidays, the I share this day with students in order to create a sense of continuity to the trust and community I am seeking to establish in the classroom.
Being a Monday, today also served to introduce another classroom community activity I use on Mondays to kick start critical thinking: the Monday Mindbender. This brain teaser serves as a "Due Now" on Mondays, but not for a grade. As a brain teaser, students exercise "thinking out of the box"/lateral thinking skills, to train them to approach classroom challenges from multiple angles. After providing an answer sheet that we re-use for the month, I reveal a brain teaser puzzle and give the students between three and five minutes to complete it, circulating the room the whole time looking for the "right" (or a creative) answer. After the time is up, I ask a student who solved the teaser to share their answer, and we talk about the thought process that went into solving the mindbender, looking at meta-cognition and developing student reflective practice.
Ensuring the students' understanding of the creation myths is the primary goal today. As such, we review the questions on the reading guide from "The World on Turtle's Back" and the reading guide "Coyote and the Buffalo," in order to ensure students were able to cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of the texts (RL.9-10.1).
In order to draw connections to a creation story with which students have familiarity, I project Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" and ask students to recap the Biblical creation account. I also project images from "Formation of the Solar System," and ask any students who have taken Astronomy or who have familiarity with the theory to explain planetary accretion or the Big Bang. In doing so, we Analyze the representation of the subject in different mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each telling (RL.9-10.7).
After having two in-class reading periods and a weekend to complete these assignments, students are expected to come to today's discussion prepared, having read and researched material under study and to draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and on their reading guides in order to to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a).
As it is still early in the semester, and the students are getting to know me, and I am getting to know them, today's discussion is a more traditional "teacher calls on" the students to review. As the discussion director, I split my focus on both the students who have their hands raised and those who are listening along, but not participating actively. In doing so, we (teacher and students) seek to propel the conversation by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; to actively incorporate others into the discussion; and for students to clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions as needed (SL.9-10.1c).
In addition to the questions on the reading guides, we also review the definitions of the literary terms students were asked to define: anti-hero, archetypal character, folk tale, myth (and specifically, creation myths), & trickster. Students should consult reference materials, either print and digital, to determine or clarify each of these terms' precise meaning in order to have a common language in our class discussions (L.9-10.4c).
Students are asked to select a feature from the area around their home town, write the narrative of the imagined experience of its creation, using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences (W.9-10.3). In order to do this, students set out the situation or an observation about the local feature, establishing point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters (W.9-10.3a). Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters, students express the story of how their local feature came to be (W.9-10.3b), using a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole (W.9-10.3c). Students use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the creation (W.9-10.3d), and provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on how the creation is resolved over the course of the narrative (W.9-10.3e).
Students have already received a pre-writing guide, prompt, and rubric for this creation narrative. I take the time today to review and read through these directions, stopping to check for clarification along the way. This provides students a chance to check with me on their topic, as well as answer any questions that anyone may have. I provide the students with examples of the stories previous classes have written to show how the stories span everything from very serious to ridiculous, and so long as it's a "Local Feature," topic selection can be varied.
Introducing formal writing, through the creation myth, asks students to blend real and imagined events to tell the story of how something they know was created. This personal connection between writer and "thing" will come up again in our study of the Puritans, as we look at objects in their poetry. For now, however, this writing shows students' understanding of sequence, as they follow a plot, and demonstrates the students' own voice (technique), and level at which students include and describe detail. Feedback on these papers, and the opportunity to do rewrites, will provide students with a chance to further develop and demonstrate plot, voice, and detail.
I also provide students with a copy of the English Department's Formal Writing Guidelines, so students can produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience (W.9-10.4). Students are asked to read this document and refer to it throughout the writing process. In the future, students will have the planning sheet with them, having already done the process of working out the elements of plot they want to address.
With two minutes remaining, we wrap up class with any final questions from the students, and a reminder that we will be in a computer lab later this week working on their creation myths. Students will have time in class to complete their myths in order for me to evaluate their abilities and focus in writing, as well as for me to provide any needed direct feedback.