Constructivist Lesson Plan


Task Prompts

Goal: How did myths help to explain nature and science in ancient cultures?
1. Standards Alignment:

Grade 6 Standards:


 RI.6.2: Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

 W.6.9a. Apply grade 6 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres [e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories] in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics”)


2. Lesson Objective:
  1. Students will compare and contrast explanatory and creation myths through the use of Venn diagrams and writing as assessed by the Checklist for Writing Assignments. 
3. Lesson Materials:
  1. “Why Rabbit Has a Short Tail” Story
  2. “How Elephant Got Its Trunk” Story
  3. “Pele” Story
  4. “Hephaestus” Story
  5. Venn Diagram
  6. Checklists for Writing Assignments
4. Lesson Initiation:  

  1. Discuss the following vocabulary with your students. Have students share their prior knowledge about the vocabulary. What do they already know about myths? What do they know about the word Pourquoi? What does Por que? mean in Spanish? What then would a Pourquoi or Por que tale be? What is a rendition or a version? What is an origin? Students will brainstorm with their elbow partner then create a class list of what they believe the words mean. Definitions should be similar to below and if any of the big aspects of the definition are missing, they can be added by the teacher:


Myth: A story of unknown authorship that people told long ago in an attempt to answer serious questions about how important things began and occurred; myths generally involve nature or the adventures of gods and heroes.

Pourquoi: a French word meaning “why”

Pourquoi tale: A fictional story that explains why something is the way it is

Renditions/versions: A performance or interpretation of a piece of music, poetry, drama, story or character’s role 

Origin: the beginning; the source


  1. Ask the students: What kind of myths do they already know?  


5. Lesson Activities:
  1. Together as a class, the students will read the stories “Why Rabbit Has a Short Tail” (Explanatory Tale). The teacher will model how you can tell it is an explanatory tale, by looking at the title of the story, and highlighting key sections, including the last sentence. Then as a class, they will read “How Elephants Got its Trunk” (Explanatory Tale) and students will highlight the sections that make it a pourquoi or an explanatory tale.  
  2. Distribute copies of “Pele” and have it displayed on the SMARTBoard. Before students start reading, explain the story of Pele, which exists in many forms throughout the South and north Pacific, where volcanoes are common and represent a destructive force, as well as a constructive one. (Volcanoes help to build up fertile land). Students will read the myth in partnerships to find out what serious question is being answered and how the stories are similar but different.  While reading students should highlight to find:
  • Who is Pele?
  • What are the different tales of how she came to Hawaii? How do they differ? How are they the same?
  • What did the fire pits she created to live in become?
  • Who did she fall in love with?
  • What is the modern legend of Pele? Who created the modern myth and why?
  1. When the reading is completed, the students will discuss as a class the question prompts and talk about why different stories around Pele have developed.
  2. Discuss with students why it is possible for different cultures to interpret the same natural phenomena differently. With every culture that develops, totally different group of myths develop as well in order to explain the world around them.
  3. Distribute copies of “Hephaestus.” Students will work in partnerships again to read the myth and find out how the Greeks sought to answer the question of the creation of volcanoes. Students will support answers with examples from the text.
  4. Students will then join one other partnership to compare and contrast the two creation myths (“Pele” and “Hephaestus”) using the ‘Venn Diagram’ handout, filling in what they had in common and what was different.
  5. After students complete the Venn diagram, have them share what they put in each section with the rest of the class. Based on their contributions, a class Venn diagram will be created.
  6. The teacher will ask students to write two paragraphs on the similarities and differences between the stories, basing it off of the Venn Diagram. Recall with students some of the types of myths the ancient cultures told: specifically, creation myths and explanatory myths.
6. Differentiation: ELL students’ background can be incorporated by including myths from their native countries. 

Students who are above reading level will have higher level texts available to them.  Likewise, below reading level students will also have lower reading level texts available to them. The higher and lower reading level texts will be the same stories as mentioned in this lesson, but modified in vocabulary and structure for each students reading level.

In terms of partnering, reading partners will be at the same level but after reading has been completed student partnerships will be heterogeneously mixed to create their Venn diagrams.

7. Lesson Closure: Both “Pele” and “Hephaestus” are creation myths. Tell them the two myths they read in the beginning of class (“Why Rabbit Has a Short Tail” and “How Elephant Got Its Trunk”) are explanatory myths. Provide a list of the four myths they read that day and ask them to relook at them to decide which stories are explanatory (or Pourquoi) myths and which are creation myths. The class should come to a consensus about which ones are which.

After the class has reached a consensus, have students make a second Venn diagram comparing similarities and differences between the two types of myths, brainstorming with partners then created a class Venn diagram of their ideas as a final way to connect the different stories read that day and to assess students understanding of the two different types of stories.

8. Assessment: 1. Informal Formative: Students will be assessed by their discussion participation, in whole class and ins small group/partnership work. Students will also be assessed in their proper use of vocabulary throughout the lesson. 

2. Formal Formative: Venn diagrams (created for comparing “Pele” and “Hephaestus” as well as comparing explanatory and creation myths) will be used to see how students understand the stories they read and are able to find similarities and differences between them.

3. Formal Summative: The students two paragraph written response will be assessed using the Checklists for Writing Assignments.


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