Storytelling: Oral Traditions Learning Center

Overview and Objectives

Developed by the ECHO Storytelling Curriculum Committee, 2006

Overview

This is one of four storytelling lessons. Three lessons in this series introduce students to narrative traditions and storytelling from Alaska, Hawaii, and other cultures through work with varied narratives, objects, and performance. In this lesson, students talk about what makes a good story, look at the oral tradition of storytelling, and watch two stories from Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native oral traditions. The fourth lesson has students draw on their new understanding of different types of narratives to inspire and enrich their own work.

Understanding and creating narratives is a fundamental literacy skill — it is also a universal human activity. When students work with written texts, recite or listen to stories, or present narratives through non-verbal means, such as art or dance, they are learning to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate their world. Teachers can build rewarding experiences for students that activate their natural love for and interest in stories. They can do this in a way that expands children's fluency and confidence with language, as well as their respect for the rich diversity of narrative approaches and language use across cultures. As students experience narratives from different cultures, they gain perspectives on people and stories in worlds that may be unfamiliar. This will be valuable to students in many ways, for example by helping them bring a sense of perspective to their own culture and stories.

One theme woven through these four lessons is the diverse nature and form of narratives. All of the narratives presented in these lessons draw on the great range and variety of stories related to cultural resources available to teacher and student alike. Remember that although the term "narrative" is frequently applied to written texts and oral stories, narratives may also be inherent in a painting, a dance, an object, or a historical record.

To check out more storytelling lesson plans, go to:

Storytelling: Writers' Workshop Lesson Plan

Storytelling: Tales of Everyday Life Lesson Plan

Storytelling: Performance and Art Lesson Plan

Objectives

  • Experience stories from a range of cultures and recognize both the commonalities and distinctions in styles and motifs of storytelling
  • Begin to identify key aspects of narratives, such as character, setting, action, conflict, and resolution
  • Begin to gain understanding of audience, author, and viewpoint in the context of narrative
  • Explore how oral traditions are used to pass down stories
  • Compare and contrast stories from two different cultural traditions