Native American Storytelling Seeks to Explain the Heavens

Overview and Objectives

Overview and Objectives

In this Learning Center, students will learn about the roles of storytelling in different indigenous and Native American cultures as students compare and contrast origin myths from Native American and Greek mythology.  Through this application of inquiry utilizing print and non-print texts, storytelling, creative writing, and scientific applications, students can build an understanding of beliefs of humans that explain natural phenomena. Students will read the indigenous myths and view videos, observe constellations within star labs, and use a star finder to locate constellations in the night sky.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. Storytelling is a universal form of expressing and communicating.
  2. Humans everywhere pass down important stories from person to person.
  3. Stories are dynamic in the hearing and telling, adapting to reflect the cultural communities in which they are told, heard, and seen.
  4. Throughout history, people in every part of the world developed detailed systems for scientific inquiry.
  5. Keen observation skills have played a part in the explanation of all human groups in understanding the Earth and the heavens and the roles they play in life.
  6. Specific ways of travel, planting, hunting and various aspects of everyday life depended on knowledge of astronomical phenomena.

Time required:

5 class periods (based on fifty minute intervals) would be required for this learning center.

A teacher could extend this unit of study to individualize the learning center.

Classroom resources:

  • Clash of Titans video (optional)
  • Smart board

Internet and videos found from the following sites (optional)

 

 

  • Star Lab Portable Planetarium (optional)
  • Native American Mythology Planetarium Cylinder (optional)
  • Greek Mythology Planetarium Cylinder (optional)

Materials:

·         Greek Mythological Genre (supplied by the teacher)

·         Native Mythological Genre (information contained in links listed above)

·         Script from Star Lab Resource Book (there are a number available; see http://www.museum.state.sc.us/educational_programs/starlab_resources.aspx for examples that can be purchased)

·         Star Finder Pattern: Download from http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/st6starfinder/st6starfinder.shtml

·         Writing Assignment (see Teaching Strategies section of this learning center)

 

 Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will gain an understanding of the origins of Native American mythological stories.
  2. Students will rewrite an origin story about a constellation from a new point of view.
  3. Students will develop an understanding of constellations through observation by the creation and use of a star finder within a simulated star lab planetarium as well as the night skies.

Background Information

Background Information

The universe contains billions of galaxies, each of which contains billions of varieties of stars. Because the view of the night sky varies when viewed at different latitudes, star gazers in different parts of the world will not see the same constellations at the same time. Cultural differences also relate to what an individual interprets in a constellation and the history behind its explanation.

Like people everywhere in the world, Native Americans have a rich pool of mythology and legends that were told to explain natural phenomena. Even though the most common Native American myths explain how the earth was formed, others explain the sun, moon, constellations, animals, seasons, and weather.

Within this learning center, students will view the constellations within the night sky (in a star lab or individually in the night skies) using a star finder, undertaking scientific inquiry to learn about the formations of the constellations. They will review some of these myths (Greek and Native American) that explain the various constellations.

Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies

Before the lesson, gather, download, and review all materials carefully. Make adjustments to the lesson as needed to meet your specific goals for your class.

  • Prior knowledge should be established before this activity:
  1. Discuss constellations.
  2. Name different constellations.
  3. Discuss placement of constellations in the night sky.
  4. Discuss how to identify the various constellations.
  5. Discuss man's use of storytelling to relate to the natual phenomena of the explaining the constellations.            
  • Read and discuss various Greek myths that explain the star patterns and constellations (Ursa Major) and (Ursa Minor) “the Big Dipper” and "the Little Dipper." (Space Science, Mythological Study) 
  1. Discuss different Greek gods and goddess.
  2. Discuss how they have been used to explain the phenomenon of constellations.
  • Read and discuss various Native American myths that explain the star patterns and constellations; for instance, "The Great Bear" myth of the Iroquois people.
  • Using a Venn diagram, compare and contrast the Greek mythology and the Native American mythology that explain the star patterns and constellations.
  • Visit this web site: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/st6starfinder/st6starfinder.shtml
  • Then,
  1. Discuss how it is used.
  2. Discuss the importance of the star finder.
  3. What can be learned from the results of using the star finder?
  4. Have students individually construct a star finder.

·         ***If a NASA portable Planetarium is not available, assign students to go outside and locate the North Star. From this point use the star finder to locate the Big Dipper and various star patterns. (Astronomy)

  • Follow instructions in  constructing a star finder to be used in the NASA Planetarium. (Visual Arts)
  • Assign students to use correct procedures for entering the planetarium.
  • Listen to the story from the script using the Greek Mythology Cylinder
  • Listen to the story from the script using the Native American Mythology Cylinder (Storytelling)
  • Use the constructed star finder to locate the Great Bear Constellation in the planetarium.
  • Explain that one aspect of myths is their variability. They are passed down from person to person, and many versions of the same myths exist.
  • Discuss differences between cultures and how culture affects the names and myths behind the different constellations.
  • Talk about several of the constellations and how they relate to various Native American cultures.
  • Review the importance of constellations to Native American cultures by viewing the cylinder.
  • Rewrite a traditional myth about a constellation from a new point of view. For instance, if one myth describes the creation from the point of view of a bear, rewrite it from the point of view of a human observing the action. (Creative Writing)

Assessments

Assessments

Teachers may use their own rubrics to assess student mastery, or use the one following.

  • A demonstrated understanding of the role of myth in human cultures.
  • A demonstrated understanding of the comparisons and contrasts between myths of different cultures.
  • Use of imagery and colorful language in rewriting an origin story.  
  • Correct use of the stages of the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing).
  • Correct use of writing mechanics.
  • The steps followed to construct a star finder from a given pattern, black construction paper, and push pins will be assessed.
  • The correct plotting of the constellations within the night heavens will be assessed after viewing using the star finder.

RUBRIC FOR CREATIVE WRITING- 8th GRADE

 

½ point

1 point

Sentence structure

Student sentences are not complete, they are short and the verbs do not agree with the pronoun. Common mistake with present simple “to be” and simple present.

Sentences are complete and well structured. The verbs agree with the pronoun and the usage of the “to be”, present simple and present progressive is correct. 

Word choice

The selection of the vocabulary is poor but well applied. They use few adjectives to describe the celebration they chose. They make several mistakes.

The selection of the vocabulary is more complete and is well applied. They still make mistakes but not as many.  They use more adjectives to describe the celebration they chose.

Introductions sentence and description

Students are not able to use an introductory sentence in their writing. They begin by describing the celebration in 4-5 sentences

Students introduce the celebration in one complete sentence. After the introductory sentence they begin describing the celebration in 6-7 sentences.

Conclusion

They use one, poor, not well structured sentence to express, in a very limited, way an opinion.

They use more than one complete sentence to express their personal opinion. The conclusion is not as limited but has few mistakes.

Presentation

Students present their writings written in computer, using the correct font that has been required. No clarity and cleanness.

No folder.

Students present their writings in computer, using the font that has been required, clarity, cleanness and the assigned color folder.

 

Resources

Resources

Multimedia Resources

  • Clash of Titans  video (optional)
  • Smart board
  • Internet and videos found from the following sites (optional)

 

 

 

 

  • Star Lab Portable Planetarium (optional)
  • Native American Mythology Planetarium Cylinder (optional)
  • Greek Mythology Planetarium Cylinder (optional)

Materials

·         Greek Mythological Genre (teacher to supply based on available resources)

·         Native Mythological Genre (see above links for information on the genres)

·         Script from Star Lab Resource Book (there are a number available; see http://www.museum.state.sc.us/educational_programs/starlab_resources.aspx for examples that can be purchased)

·         Star Finder Pattern: Download from http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/st6starfinder/st6starfinder.shtml

·         Writing Assignment

Academic Standards

Academic Standards

 National English Language Arts Standards

 

  1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the United States and the world.
  2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods to build an understanding of human experiences.
  3. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes
  4. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  5. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems.

 

National Science Standards

1.    Students should develop an understanding of abilities necessary to do scientifc inquiry.

 Students should develop an understanding of abilities necessary to develop understandings about scientific inquiry.

 

4.    Students should develop an understanding of earth in the solar system

6.    Students should develop understanding of science as a human endeavor.

 

National Technology Standards

 

  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.