an archive of lesson plans

Tag: folkstories

RU S22 ADV: Limericks (Chastushki)

Language Resident Name: Aleksandra Bystrova

Date: 02/08/2022

Class theme/topics discussed: Russian Limericks (Chastushki)

Goal of the class:

  • Learn about Russian folklore – limericks
  • Develop translation skills

How did you structure the class?

  1. Warm up (10 mins): Discussion
    1) What is the definition of “chastuska”?
    2) Why do you think people compose them?
    3) Which topics do they raise?
    4) Do you have something similar in your culture/country?

I ask students to discuss those questions. Even if they don’t know what is chastuska, they can be creative and just guess. Students present their thoughts and results of a discussion by writing the main ideas on the board. Then, I show them a slide with an official definition and main elements of “chastushka”.

2. Activity 1. Read “chastuski” and translate (10 mins).
I give my students a handout with several limericks to read them and analyze. While they translating them, I add some cultural background for them to better understand the lyrics. We read it together and I also show the rhythm.

3. Activity 2. Watch a piece of the cartoon and translate the limerick (25 mins).
I show my students a piece of a cartoon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv5lIQPRCPY (11:03-12:50). In the video, folklore characters sing a limerick. Before watching I give my students handouts with lyrics. After watching I put them in two groups and ask to come up with an English translation of the limerick. While translating they realize, how unexpected the lyrics are.

4. Activity 3. Chastuskki in Modern Russia (10 mins).
We watch youtube videos of limericks in modern Russian culture.
TV-show “Voice” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjJtiSKPTz4
Political Satire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgYrPV_d3tg

What do you think of limericks now? Do you like them?

What worked well in this class? What did not work?

Students loved the topic. During the warm-up students found a lot of facts about limericks and managed to create the right understanding of their implementation. Their research made it easier to work later. Even though listeners of chastuska have to possess the certain cultural background to understand the content, students were open-minded and tried hard to understand them. While working in groups, students managed to come up with correct translations of Baba Yaga’s chastuska and were surprised, when we summarized the meaning of it.

How could this class be improved/ modified?

The activities did not take as long as I expected. Students managed to finish the activity very fast. We had 15 minutes left, so I had to improvise and show them videos of modern performances of chastuska. If I could modify this class, I would provide students with lyrics of those songs as well. If the students are comfortable with composing rhymes, the instructor could ask them to come up with their own limericks.

RU S22 ADV: Myths and Mythical Creatures

Language Resident Name: Aleksandra Bystrova

Date: 02/01/2022

Class theme/topics discussed: Myths and Mythical Creatures

Goal of the class:

  • To learn more about Russian traditional mythical creatures
  • To practice storytelling
  • Ice breaking

How did you structure the class?

  1. Warm up (10 mins): Discussion
    1) What is myth/mythology?
    2) Why do people need myths?
    3) Do people use myths in the modern world?

2. Activity 1. Mythical creatures of your culture or region (20 min)
I present to students 3 most famous Karelian (Russian/Slav) mythical creatures and explain how you can “meet” them in real life. Leshiy (the host of the forest), Vodyanoi (the host of the lakes and ponds) and Domovoi (the house creature).

After demonstrating my students those creatures, I ask them to think about one example of mythical creatures from their home region. After small research, they share their characters with the rest of the class.

3. Activity 2. Create a story (30 minutes)
I ask my students to come up with a story, where every mythical creature (that students presented) meets each other. I explain my students the rules of composing any story before they begin. They create visual story (like comics), where their chosen creatures meet each other and deal with a problem.

What worked well in this class? What did not work?

It is easier for advanced students to discuss this topic. They have more vocabulary to answer questions about myths and mythology. I had only 5 students, so I decided not to split them in groups and let them work together as a team.

How could this class be improved/ modified?

I would dedicate two classes to discussing the myths and mythical creatures. It is a broad topic that deserves to be covered. I would find a cartoon or a Youtube video, where the characters from my culture are presented. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jva7QXMziL0

RU F21 ADV: Russian Folktales

Language Resident: Aleksandra Bystrova

Date: 09/16/2021

Class theme/topic discussed: Russian Folktales

Goals of the class :

  • Learn about Russian folklore and rules of creating a traditional fairytale
  • Practice storytelling

Class structure:

  1. Warm-up.
    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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).

PowerPoint Presentation:

JP SP21 INT/ADV: Yokai

Language Resident/Assistant Name:  

Kozue Matsumoto  

Day and Date:  

Monday February 15 & 18, 2021   

Language and Level (intermediate or advanced class):  

Intermediate  & Advanced

Class theme/topics discussed:  

  • Yokai  

Goal of the class:  

  • Understand Yokai 
  • Introduce a yokai 
  • Think about yokai of our time

How did you structure the class?  

  1. Study Break Announcement (10 min) 
    1. Have you done origami before? What did you make? What occasion? 
  1. Good news?  (10 min) 
    1. Snow in Houston 
    2. Lunar New Year 
    3. Success (extra stuff) in Chinese  
  1. What is yokai? (5 min) 
  1. What kind of Yokai have you found? (15 min) 
  1. アマビエ Amabie (https://youtu.be/seDUC9Dqep8 or https://youtu.be/WC6vZrg2yZo) (15 min) 
    1. Watch and understand followings  
      1. What Amabie looks like 
      2. What Amabie said to people 
    2. How this is popular in Japan now
    3. Draw Amabie 
  1. (Intermidiate) Let’s think about today’s Yokai
  2. (Advanced) Japanese people/society’s attitude towards yokai, other spiritual existence, and not-so-scientific things (5 min) 

What technology, media or props did you use? (internet resources, playmobiles, handouts, etc.) 

Class agreement, breakup rooms 

Zoom, share screen, youtube, google images, pen and paper 

What worked well in this class? What did not work?   

Intermidiate:

  • Students researched some ideas of what Yokai is. We also introduced some yokai that they found. They also shared some stories around the yokai.  
  • We watched the video of Amabie story. Amabie is a yokai that became super popular in Japan last year. Amabie is a yokai who lives in the ocean. It is said that if you draw Amabie and show it to a sick person, they will get well. So the coronavirus reminded people of Amabie, and it became a huge cultural trend in japan, like a collective wish towards the people suffering from COVID. 
  • Since we watched the story and know that Amabie looks like (have a bird-like beak, rhombus shaped eyes, long red hear, rainbow color scales, and 3 fish tales on which they can stand), we draw Amabie. That was fun. 
  • We also looked at original amabie. A student found a page that shows various amabie interpretations by comtemporary artists in the world (https://www.ideo.com/blog/16-artist-interpretations-of-amabie-a-mythical-japanese-creature-said-to-ward-off-disease ). 
  • We thought about what the yokai could be in today’s contemporary world. It was fun, but we only had a few minutes to think about.  

Advanced:

  • We discussed what yokai is. We were able to discuss more conceptual ideas than 11.1 class. They told me that they didn’t have a concept of yokai until I said it in the previous class, but after some research, they realized they have seen yokai here and there in their lives. They didn’t recognize them as yokai at that time.  
  • We also talked about yokai as not mosters, not spirits, but some other category. Probably based on Japanese people’s imagination towards little things in their lives.  
  • Watching Amabie story and drawing it was fun. We saw other amabie drawings by artists in the world. We also discussed how Amabie became a trend in Japan last year under COVID, and how these non-scientific things are still around people’s life 
  • We talked about other non-scientific things around our Japanese life. Could these things be just stupid ideas or do they help people’s mind/psychology in a certain way? How and Why? 

How could this class be improved/ modified? 

  • Yokai is such a unique concept, and one hour might not be enough to fully understand what they are, but I hope they got a bit of sense about it.  
  • Amabie was a good example of relationship between human and yokai.  
  • While they were drawing (5 min or so). There was a silent, but I thought it’s good to have some activities like drawing once in a while, especially when it’s related to the topic.  

Amabie Videos

Amabie Drawings by Students

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