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The Stories We Tell


A unit focused on the ways language and style impact narrative. Students will look at what makes a "good" story, what makes an "effective" story, why we tell stories and what purposes storytelling might serve, and how diction and style are an essential part of storytelling.

The anchor text is the Old English poem, Beowulf. Students will read the poem with an eye towards its language, tone, and stylistic elements, then they will attempt to imitate the Beowulf poet by rewriting classic fairy tales in the style of Beowulf (alliterative verse, words that have their origin in Old English, kennings, litotes, understatement, epithets, etc.).

In addition to the anchor text, students will watch videos and read other texts that are related to Beowulf and to storytelling. The unit is structured as a blended unit, where some of the work is done online, using online resources and Web 2.0 tools, while other work is done in class, face-to-face with the teacher. There are opportunities for differentiation, with supplemental resources for students who wish to move ahead, as well as resources that may be used by students who are struggling to master the material.


Learning Targets: 
Define and identify literary techniques in a piece of literature (tone, connotation, alliteration, litotes, understatement, kenning, epithet, allegory, symbolism)
Write a story using the literary techniques from this unit; imitate the style of another author
Analyze what makes a good story; analyze what makes an effective story; compare/contrast the differences between a good story and an effective story
Identify audience and purpose for a text; analyze how audience and purpose impact the rhetorical choices of the author
Define and identify aspects of genre (elegy, epic, allegory, genealogical verse, folktale, myth)
Content Area: 
Resource Type: 
Creative Commons Licence
Common Core Language Arts