Students will read one or more fables or myths and take notes that focus on the lesson or main plot line of the fable as well as the way in which their chosen animal is represented.
In the video below, you will see a student explain the similarities he uncovered between coyotes in real life and the coyotes in legends. This was not done at the conclusion of this lesson, but at the conclusion of this unit. I have placed it here so you can get the larger picture of what the goals are with this mini-unit.
There are two ways to teach this lesson. You may teach it as a stand-alone lesson, in which you focus on teaching students to take notes on fictional characteristics of coyote which can then later be compared to factual information. The way I use this lesson is as a guided activity that provides support for students so that they can then conduct the same kind of research (fables and facts) about an animal of their own choosing.
The coyote a great animal to read about as it is abundantly and prominently featured in the literature and legends of many different North American cultures.
This legend, How Coyote Brought Fire to the People, works well as a whole-class read-aloud. This Tohono O'odham legend contains coyote in an important role as well. My students are particularly interested in this legend because Tucson is on the edge of the Tohono O'odham reservation.
In addition to the text links provided above, or as a support for struggling readers, visual learners, or ELL students, the master storyteller Joe Hayes video version Coyote Dances with a Star is a useful resource.
As we read each legend or watch the video, the students and I work collaboratively to select and write up key details from these fictional representations of coyote. At the conclusion of this lesson, students relate the three details in paragraph form by writing, typing, or presenting it orally and informally. I project this Coyote in Legends paragraph format as scaffolding. (I do not use it as a worksheet). Some students rely on it heavily and others use it only as a reminder to have a topic sentence, a concluding sentence, and three details about coyote from the legends.
I have students complete a self-assessment, Evaluating My Learning- Coyote Legends. This is described in greater detail in the reflection section of this lesson.