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        Storytelling: Performance and Art

        Students explore how stories can be told without words, such as through performance and art. This is one of four storytelling lessons.

        Lesson Summary


        This is one of four storytelling lessons. Three lessons in this series introduce students to narrative traditionsand storytelling from Alaska, Hawaii, and other cultures through work with varied narratives, objects, and performance. Inthis lesson, students think about how stories can be told without words. They watch a music video performance made by AlaskaNative students, and then examine art objects that may be used to tell a story, that may be part of a larger story, or thatmay inspire new stories. The fourth lesson has students draw on their new understanding of different types of narratives toinspire 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 asart or dance, they are learning to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate their world. Teachers can build rewardingexperiences for students that activate their natural love for and interest in stories. They can do this in a way thatexpands children's fluency and confidence with language, as well as their respect for the rich diversity of narrativeapproaches and language use across cultures. As students experience narratives from different cultures, they gainperspectives on people and stories in worlds that may be unfamiliar. This will be valuable to students in many ways, forexample 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 narrativespresented in these lessons draw on the great range and variety of stories related to cultural resources available to teacherand 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: Oral Traditions Lesson Plan

        Storytelling: Tales of Everyday Life Lesson Plan

        Storytelling: Writers' Workshop Lesson Plan


        • Experience stories from a range of cultures and recognize both the commonalities and distinctions instyles and motifs of storytelling
        • Begin to gain understanding of audience, author, and viewpoint in the context of narrative
        • Begin to identify key aspects of narratives, such as character, setting, action, conflict, andresolution
        • Explore how stories can be told without words, such as through performance and art

        Grade Level: 4-6

        Suggested Time

        • One to two class periods

        Multimedia Resources


        • White board or chart paper

        Before the Lesson

        • Arrange computer access so students can work in pairs or small groups.
        • Review all materials carefully. Watch the video, work through the interactive activity, and read the background essays that relate to the lesson. For each resource, ask yourself, "How does thisresource relate to my own understanding of narrative, storytelling, and my language arts goals for my class?" Makeadjustments to the lesson as needed to meet your specific goals for your class.

        Using Journals

        If you will be doing more than one storytelling lesson with your students, it may be helpful to have them use ajournal to record their notes and complete their assigned writings. Electronic journals may also be used. When using eitherprinted or electronic journals, integrate the handouts and assignments so that all the written material produced by thestudents can be kept in one place and be available for reference from one lesson to the next.

        The Lesson

        Part I: Telling Stories Without Words

        1. Begin by activating students' existing knowledge about how stories can be told without words. Ask thefollowing questions:

        1. Does anybody know how to play charades?
        2. Can somebody remind me of the rules?
        3. How can you tell a story without words?

        2. Now, ask students to think about why writers start writing. Discuss the followingquestions:

        1. Why do you think writers start to make something?
        2. Why do you think some stories are important to write or important to tell?

        Part II: Telling Stories Through Performance

        3. Tell students that they are now going to watch students in Alaska who have an important story to tell, andwho tell it through the form of a music video. Give students the following questions to guide their viewing:

        1. What did you see?
        2. What is its meaning to you?
        3. What is the story being told?
        4. How does the action of the story come through, even if you can't understand the words?
        5. What more do you want to know about the walrus hunt?
        6. Why did the students think this was an important story to tell?

        Show the Performing "The Walrus Hunt" QuickTime Video

        Part III: Telling Stories Through Art

        4. Divide the students into three groups and introduce the Art That Tells a Story Flash Interactive. Explain that the nine art objects included in this activity were selected because they relate tostories in several ways. The objects may tell a story, they may be part of a larger story, or they may inspire newstories.

        Ask each group to take turns choosing an object until all nine objects have been selected. Then each groupshould look at its three objects more closely. Students should spend at least one minute looking quietly at the largeversion of each image on their own. Then for each object, the group should answer the following questions:

        1. What's going on here?
        2. What makes you think that?
        3. List ten words or phrases about any aspect of the artifact.

        While the groups are working, put up nine pieces of chart paper (one for each object). When the groups arefinished, have the groups describe their objects as you record their responses on the chart paper. Allow time for studentsto ask each other questions about the different artifacts.

        Check for Understanding

        Ask students to reflect in their journals on their experiences of looking at stories through performance and art — stories in which words themselves are not the main way of conveying the meaning. Have students also think about their discussion of charades. How can these experiences add to ways students might wish to prepare and tell their own story?


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