Introduction to Oral Literature

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SWBAT analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats by watching an example of and taking notes on the characteristics of oral literature.

Big Idea

Oral Literature is where it all started!

Word Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

Today, students will begin their second unit of Greek & Latin Word Roots.  This week, we focus on roots that have to do with number.  Students set up their Cornell Notes and copy numbers one-five of the chart.

They will copy the second half of the chart tomorrow.


15 minutes

 To begin today's lesson, I have students set up a sheet of paper for Cornell Notes.  The essential question is, "What is the significance of Oral Literature?"

Using the PowerPoint, I show students the video of the Story of Maui. 

Students then complete the quick write in their notes. 




Getting Down to Business

15 minutes

Once everyone has completed the quick write independently, I ask for volunteers to share their answers.  The similarities I'm hoping to hear are that the story of Maui has characters, a setting, a plot, a theme, etc. (all of the elements of fiction).  I might hear that there are elements of fantasy to this story (the magic).  The main difference that I'm hoping to hear is that we listened to and watched the storyteller instead of interacting with a text.  This, I tell my students, is Oral Literature.

At the end of our discussion, I share the slide with the characteristics of Oral Literature.  The are encouraged to add this information to their notes using any type of shorthand that they are comfortable with.

Next, I share the slide with the different literary genres derived from Oral Literature.  They copy this chart into their notes as well.  This chart will become a reference point as we move through folk tales, legends, and myths.

Did They Get It?

10 minutes

When there are 10 minutes left in class, I will have students complete the Cornell Notes process:


  • Review your notes with an elbow partner.  Do you have the same information?
  • Highlight, underline, or circle any key points.
  • Write at least 3 study questions on the left-hand side.  Make sure the questions are across the sheet from the answers.
  • Write a 4-5 sentence summary that answers the essential question.


These notes can be reviewed as a formative assessment or simply put away in the students' binders.  They will use these notes throughout our Oral Literature unit.