Storytelling: Oral Traditions Learning Center

Part I: What Makes a Good Story?

1. Begin by activating students' existing knowledge about stories. Write the following questions on the board or on chart paper. Have students discuss the questions as a class, and record their comments on the board or chart paper.

   a. What is a story? How is a story told?
   b. Who tells stories?
   c. What makes a good story?

2. Show the Oral Traditions video and ask students to think about and discuss what the narrator says about stories. How might she answer the same questions that began the class: What makes a good story? Who tells stories? What is a story? How is a story told?

Introduce the term "oral tradition" (see background essay for more information) and ask students to consider why stories might be spoken versus written down. Are the stories of their own lives — their class, school, and families written, spoken, or recorded in other ways? Who tells them? Who are they for?

Ask them to think about what it would be like to have no written or electronic way to save a story. How could it be made to last?