Overview: Students compare and contrast their own retelling of a family story with a version told by a family member.
Subject: English Language Arts: Speaking & Listening, Narrative Writing
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
Duration: 50 minutes
Related Concepts: storytelling, collaborative activities, family traditions, interviewing
Students will be able to:
- Tell and retell stories with a partner to demonstrate their knowledge of the oral tradition.
- Write their own version of a family story and comparing and contrasting it with a version told by a family member.
Essential Questions: How does the oral tradition hold a culture together? How can a story change through oral and written retellings?
Vocabulary: oral language, oral tradition, retelling, narrative
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Speaking & Listening
- ELA: Writing
Whiteboard or blackboard
Recite a well-known child’s story from memory to the class, such as “Little Red Riding Hood” or “The Three Little Pigs.”
Ask students if they are familiar with the story. Then ask if students had heard any parts of the story differently growing up, such as different word choices or order of events, or with scenes added or removed. Explain that many stories are told in the “oral tradition,” which means that they are told from memory and spoken out loud to an audience of listeners. Encourage students to share their own thoughts about and examples of stories told this way. Point out that families often have personal family stories passed down through the generations through the oral tradition. Emphasize that each speaker has an opportunity to make the story his or her own when it is his or her turn to tell it and that stories often change slightly over time. Ask students what they think the pros and cons are of sharing stories through the oral tradition.
Students tell a partner a brief story from their life. Then, the partner retells the story back to the original speaker, showing how stories change a bit from memory and with a different speaker. Partners switch roles and repeat the activity.
Students write a brief family story from memory that they had originally heard spoken to them by a family member (or neighbor, etc.). Make it clear before students start writing that they should choose a family story that can be discussed with a family member (or neighbor, friend, etc.) familiar with the story, even if that person was not the original storyteller.
After students write their stories from memory, they will interview a family member (or friend, etc.) also familiar with the story and ask that person to retell the story. Students should record the storyteller speaking, if possible. Students then write out the story (or excerpts from it, if long) as spoken by the family member. Students compare their written version of the story with that of their family member.
Assign an essay in which students compare and contrast their version of their family story and their family member’s version and write about what they learned about stories told through the oral tradition.
- Assess essays to determine how well students are able to compare and contrast ideas and analyze concepts of the oral tradition.
English Language Learners: Pair students with higher readers during the small group activity. Allow students to interview a family member in their native language, as appropriate.
Students with Special Needs: Pair students with higher readers during the small group activity. Shorten the essay assignment as appropriate depending on student ability.
Higher Level Students: In their essay assignments, encourage students to incorporate a brief analysis of any additional versions of the family story they may have observed from others in the family (or friends, neighbors, etc.) familiar with it.
Students can build on their understanding of sharing stories through the oral tradition and using comparisons and contrasts with Philippines Lesson: Oral Traditions.