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Learning from Stories

What is the most important lesson you have learned from the stories that have been read in class?

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Suggested Activities

This critical challenge helps students connect to the historic practice of storytelling. To prepare for the lesson, select legends, folktales or other stories with a moral from your own collection or from those listed in the references below. You may want to confirm whether parents or other individuals within the school community have any sensitivities regarding the use of legends and folktales. Introduce the lesson by asking students to name people in the community who teach us (e.g., teachers, athletic coaches, music teachers, elders, spiritual leaders, Brownie or Cub leaders, and language teachers). Ask students to suggest how people might have learned before there were schools, television or the Internet. If necessary, guide them to recognize that lessons were passed from one person to another and from one generation to the next through the telling of various kinds of stories, including legends and folktales.

Read aloud one or two such stories (e.g., How Raven Freed the Moon, a Northwest Coast First Nations legend, and Hide and Sneak, an Inuit legend). Pointers for relating folktales in the storytelling tradition can be found on the Scholastic Website (see References). After listening to each story, ask students to identify the main characters, problems and solutions. Help students recognize the lesson in the story by identifying key words that capture the main ideas. On a chart, record each story's underlying lesson or moral. Over the course of several days read or tell other stories that contain a lesson, trying where possible, to include stories drawn from various cultural groups. Keep a record of the lesson presented in each story.

After accumulating several lessons, invite students to consider which one offers the most helpful or encouraging message for them. Review each lesson and lead students in a discussion of the merits of each piece of advice. Invite students to select one lesson that is most important to them personally (e.g., is something they feel strongly about and it is helpful or encouraging to them). Ask each student to draw a picture illustrating the lesson and to provide reasons for the choice. You may wish to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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