The second week of this unit on Multiculturalism through African and Mayan Myths and Folk Tales will focus on MAYAN MYTHS.
The structure of the day to day activities will use the same format as week one, except that there will be distinguishable difference in the way the stories are presented. Students are encouraged to make special note of the differences as well as the similarities in order for them to be prepared for the assessment and reflection activities in the third week.
On the first day of the second week, the students will be introduced to the Mayan culture. Day One will serve as a knowledge building day. The Mayan are a complex people, not often studied in great detail. The students will be provided with information on where the Mayan people lived. This information will be put forth through the use of maps and a video. These visual aids will assist the students in situating themselves for their journey through the Mayan culture. The teacher will guide the students to an understanding of the Mayan myths as a means of entertaining and educating. It will be pointed out that while the purposes are the same for both the African and Mayan myths, the elements employed to fulfill these purposes are vastly different. The teacher will provide the students with a blank K-W-L chart. K-W-L is a strategy that creates an instructional framework that begins with what the students
about the topic to be studied, moves to what the students
want to know
as they reflect on their knowledge and generate questions about the topic, and leads to a record of what students
as a result of their engagement in the K-W-L strategy. Using prior knowledge as well as information gathered on this day, students will fill in the chart.
The second day will begin with a review of yesterday’s lesson. The students will be reminded that Mayan myths are designed to teach and entertain. Using a map, the teacher will ask the students to recall the areas in which the Mayan people lived. With the location established, the students will sit on the floor. They will be told this arrangement is to help them relax and get prepared to take a journey through the villages of the Mayan people, across its rivers and into the natural surroundings of this unique culture.
The teacher will read aloud a Mayan myth. Upon completing the tale, the teacher will ask the students a series of questions.
Did the myth entertain you? What elements of the myth kept you listening?
What did the myth teach you about the Mayan culture?
What is your personal reaction to the myth?
[The teacher must work to ensure that the students are able to identify unique aspects of the Mayan culture as provided in the myth. It may take several readings before students are able to do this.]
At the end of the discussion the teacher will read another myth to the class. During this reading the students should attempt to mentally answer the questions while they listen. At the end of the second reading the teacher will again engage the students in a conversation in which they provide their responses and reactions.
Day Two has served to provide the students with a sampling of the Mayan culture as illustrated through the myths. Students will be encouraged to add information to their K-W-L charts. As the unit progresses, students will see their knowledge of the culture expanding.
On the third day, the students will continue their exploration of the Mayan culture through the myths. The class will begin with a review of the common elements identified in the myths they have heard thus far. It is essential that students are constantly reminded of the culture’s intention to educate, inform and entertain via the myths.
On this day, the students will work in groups of four. Each group will be provided with copies of several Mayan myths. Each group will select an individual to read the stories aloud. The readers will be encouraged to show enthusiasm and excitement while presenting the tale. After each reading the groups will discuss the stories and attempt to identify the essential Mayan elements. After the class has completed the group exercise, the teacher will introduce the students to the art of Mayan storytelling. The teacher will remind the students that they have experienced telling stories as well as being told stories. The teacher will help the students understand that Mayan storytelling has some unique traits. For example, Mayan storytellers will often announce “This is a tale of the ancient time . . . ” or “This is a tale once told by the ancestors . . . ” before launching into the retelling. The Mayans have also been known to slip into a singsong of paired phrases while telling a myth.
On the fourth day, the tradition of the myths embedded in the culture of the Mayan civilization will come to life. A guest speaker who has taught writing Mayan tales will come to the classroom to read stories and discuss patterns and recurring themes. The speaker’s name is Tamara Petro. Ms. Petro hails from New Haven and is a fantastic storyteller of Mayan myths. She is wonderful for students of all ages as her stories come to life through the use if vivid images and intriguing voice intonations..
The students will have some time allotted for discussion about common themes and ideas that they have found in the stories they have read throughout the week. There will also be time to ask questions of the guest speaker.
At the end of the week during which the students have been bombarded with information, Day Five will serve as a reflection and response day. Students will continue to add to the K-W-L chart. Students will be encouraged to review the chart and summarize what they have learned throughout the week.
Students will also be asked to provide a journal type response to several questions. Journal responses are designed to be informal writings whereby the student is not concerned with formalized writing but rather concentrates on reflection. The responses will be based on the myths read and heard over the past four days. The questions will include:
Provide a brief summary of your favorite myth. What did the myth teach you? What did you learn about the Mayan culture from the myth?
What did you learn about the Mayan culture this week?
How can you apply this new knowledge to your own life?
In what ways can you teach this to others?
Does the new knowledge make you want to learn more about the Mayanculture?
Has your appreciation of the Mayan culture been increased by this new knowledge?
Does it increase your desire to learn more about other cultures?