Language Resident: Aleksandra Bystrova
Class theme/topic discussed: Russian Folktales
Goals of the class :
- Learn about Russian folklore and rules of creating a traditional fairytale
- Practice storytelling
I ask my students to discuss the following questions:
1) What is “сказка” (traditional Russian verbal fairy tale)?
2) Did you like reading fairy tales or listening to them when you were a kid?
3) Do you know any Russian fairytales?
- Activity 1. Reading a fairytale “Сказка об Иване-царевиче, жар-птице и о сером волке” (The fairytale of Ivan-tsarevitch, a firebird and a grey wolf) (one and a half page, adapted, with vocabulary).
Students seat in a semi-circle. We read the text aloud making stops at the end of each paragraph. I make sure they understand everything by asking them questions. I draw a plan of a fairytale on a board while they are reading. At the same time, I have a powerpoint presentation opened with drawings of this fairytale, so students have a visual image of what is going on.
- Activity 2. Analysis of a fairytale
I ask students to name all characters from the fairytale (7). Then, I ask them about the role of those characters. What do they do? We do it on purpose, so later we could discuss the thesis from the book “Morphology of the Folktale” by a Soviet folklorist and scholar Vladimir Propp. After we wrote all characters and their role (functions) on the board, I present my students Propp’s concept and give them a handout with a plan of creating a folktale.
- Activity 3. Create your own fairytale!
I ask students to use the Propp’s concept of creating a folktale (7 main characters and 31 functions, which constitute the plot). They can choose any quantity of characters and functions to create a folktale.
What worked well in this class? What did not work?
While reading the folktale in the class, I tried to use visual materials, gestures and paraphrasing as much as possible. Students seemed interested in the plot, because they laughed when something funny happened and answered context questions. The fairy tale was not long (adapted 1.5 pages), but it took almost 30 mins to fully analyze it (which was more, than I expected). Students seemed overwhelmed with Propp’s concept, but I was ready for it — I simplified the functions, put pictures to them and printed it out in a handout. We did not have time to complete the last activity (composing a folktale), but when students discussed their plots, they were very engaged and came up with really funny ideas. We will continue talking about it next class.
How could this class be improved/ modified?
I would devote two classes to this topic. I would spend more time reading and analyzing a folktale and explaining to students the Propp’s concept, and during the next class I would ask students to create a folktale and present it (in a form of a performance).