English Language Arts Inquiry Unit

Defining the Destination

Skills Students Need to Know Prior to Unit:
- how to use the dewey decimal system or book finders at your school
- how to use different search engines to find information
- how to record sources (books, websites, magazine articles) http://www.bibme.org/
- how to evaluate books and websites (http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/hints-on-print/ http://teachers.saschina.org/mromard/2008/12/16/information-literacy-for-lower-elementary-students/)
- copyright http://h226.lskysd.ca/pd/node/110

Unit Duration
Personal and Philosophical
Social, Cultural and Historical
Imaginative and Literary
Environmental and Technological

Understandings: Essential and Guiding Question:
What are the big ideas?
What specific understandings about them are desired?
What misunderstandings are predictable?

- storytelling is very significant to each culture
- if we do not know our culture we may not know ourselves
- myths/legends are valued and respected by people
- there is a sacred aspect to myths and legends
What provocative questions will foster inquiry, understanding and transfer of learning?

(Have these questions on a clothesline and as they get answered they go into the mini laundry basket)

1. How do myths and legends enhance (increase) our understanding of ourselves, the world and culture?
2. What is a myth?
3. What is a legend?
4. Why were myths and legends created?
5. How do you write a myth and a legend?
6. How are these stories kept alive?
7. Why are these stories sacred?

Outcomes/Indicators: (from the curriculum)
1. Communicate findings and conclusions about a problem, question, or issue in a clear visual, oral, and written format.
2. Create a variety of clear representations that communicate straightforward ideas and information about myths and legends including short illustrated reports, dramatizations, posters, and other visuals such as displays and drawings (Museum of Myths and Legends)
3. Reflect on and assess own viewing, listening, reading, speaking, writing, and other representing experiences, the selected strategies used and explore possible ways to improve.

Knowledge: What key knowledge will students acquire as a result of this unit?

1. - Considering personal knowledge of myths and legends to determine inquiry or research needs.
- Examining collected information to identify categories or aspects of a topic that need more research.

Do: What would they be able to do as a result of such knowledge?

1.- Ask general and specific questions on the topic of myths and legends using predetermined categories (Greek, Native, Roman, Creation).
- Select and use a plan for gathering myth and legends stories and information (websites, tubs of books, anthology, videos). Use a type of journal or scrapbooking technique (wiki space- online collaboration or journal)
- Making notes and citing authors or websites of sources alphabetically.
- Share findings and conclusions in a clear visual, oral or written format…
- Use the language of inquiry (eg. I want to know if… I wonder about…).
- Organize ideas and information in logical sequences

2. - Represent understanding and communicate ideas and stories including models, dramatizations and through storytelling. (find an artifact that is important from the myth or legend and create a model of it then retell that myth through a drama or oral storytelling), reader’s theatre).
- Experiment with different ways of representing ideas and sharing them with others (e.g. drama, mime, tableau, dance, music, models, dioramas, paintings).

3. - Reflect on viewing, listening, reading, representing, speaking, and writing by explaining what is effective or what likes in presentation.

Assessment: (for of as)
Performance Task
§ Through what authentic performance tasks will students demonstrate the desired understandings?
§ By what criteria will performances of understanding be judged?
§ What will social action look like?

The students will participate in creating a “Myths and Legends Museum”. They will work in small groups to choose a myth or legend of their choice or create a myth or legend of their own. They will create a presentation that demonstrations their knowledge of myths and legends. From the story they choose they will create an item of importance form that story and create a model of it which will be used in their explanation of their myth or legend.


- create their own criteria of how they will be marked
- audience evaluation (what was your favorite part, what did you learn, any questions)
Other Evidence:
§ Through what other evidence (e.g. quizzes, tests, academic prompts, observations homework journals_ will students demonstrate achievement of the desired results?
§ How will students reflect upon and self-assess their learning?



A. Preparing the Inquiry:
What activities create an interest and develop background knowledge relating to the Essential Question?

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):

Before: Arrange students into small groups of 3 or less. Have a collection of different myth and legend pictures cut up and mixed up. Next, distribute a part of each picture to each group. Continue to do this until each group has an assortment of pictures. Each group will look at the collection of pictures and decide what each picture is and what they all have in common. Have each group share their ideas. Lastly, have the class collaborate to put the pictures together (arrange on whiteboard or somewhere where everyone can see). Discuss the overarching theme.

Picture Options: Mythical Creatures and Gods, Athens, Hercules, Robin Hood, King Arthur
During: Distribute Myths and Legends Inquiry Journals. Another option is to do a form of this inquiry journal online using a wiki space. As a class decide on the format of the book to be used to record daily entries of findings, responses, and questions.

Read an example of a myth. Use the language of inquiry to determine what they know about myths now and what they want to know or wonder about myths (this will be in question form). The last part of the KWL CHART will be answered throughout the unit. Tell them that more questions will arise as we research because the more you know the more you want to know. Do this same process again with legends after myths are done. The KWL Chart will be written on a poster by the teacher the students will also record this information in their journals.

On the teacher KWL Chart the essential question will be written in big because we will come back to it often.
After: Have the students create a journal entry response to show their understanding of the myth and legend they listened to that day. Option: Instead of a written response the students could choose a character or an item from the story that was important to that story. They should write a paragraph or a couple sentences of why that character or item is of importance to that myth or legend.


B. Finding the Sources, Ideas and Information:
(related to your question)

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):
Prior: Before introducing this lesson students should know the skills of searching for books using your school system or direct them to the area in the library where these books will be found (dewey decimal, public library, online library, Library Pro, etc.), how to use different search engines to find information, , and how to evaluate books and websites using the 2 30 minutes lessons offered at this website http://teachers.saschina.org/mromard/2008/12/16/information-literacy-for-lower-elementary-students/.
Before: Infront of the classroom have a collection of books laid out (fairytales, joke books, craft books, and mystery books). Also, have a variety of websites written on the board that can be easily categorized under the topics mentioned earlier. Use a graphic organizer to arrange each of these book titles and websites under the correct category. Discuss.
During: Next tell the students that they will be hunting for myth and legend websites and books. Allow them access to both the computer room and the library to find these sources. Each students is responsible for finding one hard copy of myth the and a legend whether this is in a form of a book or a print out from a website. When this is complete they can continue their search of finding some quality websites and books that relate to the topic.
After: Come back as a class and discuss the students findings. Use these questions to prompt the process of finding sources.
a) What was easy about finding myths or legends?
b) What was difficult about finding myths and legends?
c) How did you know if it was a myth or a legend?
d) Were their any repetitions? What does this say to us?

Have the students glue their myths and legends into their journals or store their books in a folder in their book. These will be used throughout the unit.

Journal Entry: Tell me about you choice of legend and myth. Why did that story appeal to you? Do you have a better understanding of what a myth or legend is after today’s search? WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT MYTHS TODAY? WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU STILL HAVE ABOUT MYTHS AND LEGENDS? VISIT CLASS/PERONAL KWL CHARTS.

* Teacher Note: be sure to take journals in at this time to make sure that the myths and legends the students found are actually myths and legends. If not, this will need correction!

B. Finding the Sources, Ideas and Information:
(related to your question)

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):

Before: Have the students’ pair up, give each group a myth card. Have them act as myth busters who are trying to uncover the myths that are actually true from those that are fiction. See myth card handout.
During: Set the purpose for the next two lessons. Tell the students that they will be split into small groups to share the myth and legend they found. They then will dive into the guiding questions of “what is a Myth, what is a Legend, what are the elements of each, how are they different?” Model this process by looking at different types of literatur such as mysteries, dictionaries, student agendas, fairytales, etc. Choose two types of literature they are knowledgeable about. Read or analyze your literature choices and discuss the elements of these genres. For example, a dictionary is a collection of words and their definitions, entry words are in alphabetical order, there are also guide words at the top of each page that show the first word on that page and the last word on that page. A dictionary also shows us how to pronounce each word using a pronunciation key. Last but not least, it tells us what part of speech the word is. Do this with your other literature type. Show this using an overhead so the students have an example to use when creating their list of elements for myths and legends.
- myth/legend t-chart and Venn diagram at the bottom of the page to show similarities and differences

Next arrange the students into groups of 4 or less (three to a group would be ideal). Ensure that these are good groupings because they will be working in these groups from this lesson to the end of the unit. Have each group share their journal entries to one another and where they are at in their understanding of myths and legends.

Each group member will now read their myth to their group. After each of them are read the group will work on creating a collaborative journal entry on the elements of myths.

Do this same process with legends. Once this is complete each group will do a venn diagram showing the similarities and differences among myths and legends. They can use information from any part of their journal.
After: Writing snowball activity. Give each student a piece of loose-leaf and have them generate a question they still have about myths or legends or about the inquiry process? Next have them crumple up the paper and throw it in the middle. Next, give them 30 seconds to uncrumple the paper and comment on the question or write a new question. Continue to do this for a long as you wish. If this is new to the students you can model this process with another topic such as friendship, bullying, or have them write down a question they have been pondering about for a while.

- lesson on finding myth and legend dictionary terms and create their own group definitions. Presented on chart paper

C. Using the Ideas and Information:
Evaluating and Choosing
Ethical Use

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):



D. Sharing the Ideas and Information:
Performance task creation
Social action

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):


E. Evaluating the Inquiry:
(strategies to involve students; refer to beginning of the unit to ensure your plan is in place)

Lesson/Activity Focus:
Indicators (KUD):


Who Am I? (Game)

Hot Seating: Being in the Shoes of a Character (Game)


1. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and can kill them.

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine (a compound related to caffeine), which can sicken and kill family pets. Three factors determine how toxic the sweet stuff will be to a particular animal: the type of chocolate, the size of the animal and the amount of chocolate ingested. The most dangerous confections are unsweetened baker's chocolate and powdered cocoa, the least, white chocolate.

Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, restlessness and increased urination. In severe cases, cardiac arrhythmia and seizures can result. The possibility that an animal will kill itself with chocolate is very low. More likely it will get a nasty tummy ache. In any case, it is still prudent to keep all chocolate far away from pets.

2. Elephants are afraid of mice.

There is no evidence that elephants are afraid of mice, according to animal behavior experts. In fact, elephants do not appear to be very fearful, especially in the wild, where they share habitats with fierce predators such as lions and tigers. Most elephants in captivity coexist peacefully with rodents, which nest in the abundance of hay and straw and feast on the pachyderm's leftovers. Elephants can behave unpredictably in captivity, however, and are very protective of their young.

3. A woman who brought her new dog to the vet after its eyes filled with mucus and it began to foam at the mouth was asked where the dog came from. After some prodding, the woman reluctantly admitted that she brought it across the United States-Mexico border from Tijuana. His suspicion confirmed, the vet informed the woman that her pet was not a dog, but a Mexican sewer rat.

You probably guessed quickly that this story is an urban legend. We knew it was fairly obvious, but had to include the tale because of its tenacity and shape-shifting nature. The dog usually turns out to be a rat, but its origin often changes. In some versions of the story the critter is a Korean rat, in others a Hong Kong wharf rat. Other tales have the rodent hailing from Sumatra, Pakistan, Guatemala, China or Haiti. The legend seems to surface and grow legs when immigration is in the headlines and xenophobia more pronounced in the population. The foreign (beloved) dog that morphs into a (filthy) rat is a symbol of the perceived dangers posed by mixing items from other cultures with our own.

4. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark.
According to the National Weather Service, the odds of being struck by lightning in the United States in any given year are 1 in 700,000. By contrast the odds of being attacked by a shark in the United States are roughly 1 in 8 million.
So don't be afraid to go in the water -- just be sure to get out and seek shelter at the first sign of a thunderstorm, because you'll be a sitting duck in the water or on the beach.

5. You should wait at least an hour after a meal before swimming, or you will get stomach cramps and drown.

Not once has a drowning death been attributed to "swimming with a full stomach." Yes, swimmers can develop cramps in the water, but few are the result of eating right before swimming. And unless you can't swim (in which case you should wait until you've had swimming lessons before swimming), no cramp would be serious enough to prevent you from swimming to safety.

6. Having a good 'base tan' will help prevent sunburn if you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun.

There is really no such thing as a "healthy tan." Visiting a tanning parlor before your week at the beach house or trip to Hawaii can cause just as much damage to your skin as the sun exposure you'll experience on your vacation. A dark tan on fair skin is only equivalent to a sunscreen with SPF 2 or 4, which won't provide much additional protection from the sun.

7. If you are stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the ocean, you should have someone urinate on the sting.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to get stung by a jellyfish, you'll have some small consolation in knowing that there is no need to add insult to injury by asking someone to pee on you. Experts recommend carefully scraping off any tentacles that have adhered to the skin and treating the sting with vinegar, baking soda, ice packs, salt water, hot water or even meat tenderizer –- but definitely NOT urine.

8. Cow farts are a major cause of global warming.

According to a 2006 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry is one of the top three contributors to the planet's most serious environmental problems. Cows and other livestock (such as pigs, sheep and goats) release methane gas when they burp or fart, making them responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas problem. It's estimated that a single cow can produce 25 to 130 gallons of methane a day.

In addition, nearly 30 percent of the available land on the planet is used for grazing livestock and growing their feed -- often at the expense of forests -- and their manure is a major source of water pollution and acid rain.

9. Paper grocery bags are better for the environment than plastic ones.

The correct answer is FALSE. Both paper and plastic bags have their pros and cons. While paper bags are made from a renewable, sustainable resource and are easily recycled, they require 40 percent more energy to manufacture, cause more air and water pollution in the process, and, because they are bulkier than plastic bags, use more energy to transport.

Plastic bags, on the other hand, are made from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable. However, they are lightweight, waterproof, reusable and recyclable.

So which one is the best choice? Neither. Reusable fabric shopping bags are the most ecologically-friendly way to transport your groceries.

10. Rice should not be thrown at weddings because it is potentially harmful to birds.

The correct answer is FALSE. Contrary to popular belief, when birds eat uncooked rice, it does not expand in their little stomachs and cause them to explode. In fact, many birds eat rice in the wild (particularly in Asia), and yet the countryside is not littered with exploded bird carcasses.

Traditionally, rice is thrown at the happy couple as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. While some churches and reception halls prohibit throwing rice, it's not for the sake of the birds – rice is difficult to clean up and creates a slipping hazard on hard floors.

11. Bottled water is bad for the environment.

The correct answer is TRUE. Despite having the safest tap water in the world, the average American consumes more than 28 gallons of bottled water a year. While bottled water is a convenience, it is not any better for you than what comes out of the kitchen faucet. In fact, the two top-selling brands of bottled water are nothing more than purified municipal tap water.

The price of this convenience is much higher than the dollar or two you pay at the store. The growing global bottled water market has resulted in billions of plastic bottles clogging landfills and littering the landscape all over the world -- particularly in areas where recycling is not an option. Not to mention the amount of energy used to manufacture the bottles and to filter, bottle and transport the water. Instead of wasting money on bottled water, try filtering your tap water at home and carrying it in a reusable sports or camping bottle.

12. Eating turkey makes you sleepy.

Turkey does contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do plenty of other foods, such as chicken, beef, pork, cheese and beans. Not only do all of these foods also contain protein, which negates the effects of tryptophan, but we generally don't ingest enough at one sitting to feel it.

However, what does tend to make people exceptionally drowsy is eating a big, heavy meal -- Thanksgiving dinner, for example. Blood is diverted to the digestive system to help tackle all the fats and carbohydrates you've consumed, which decreases blood flow to your brain and makes you feel lethargic. Drinking alcohol -- while watching football or during the meal -- only makes matters worse. So even if you didn't eat any turkey, you'd still feel like taking a nap afterward.

13. Swallowed chewing gum takes seven years to digest and pass through your system.

Actually, chewing gum is largely indigestible, but it will make its way through your digestive system at the same rate as anything else you consume.

14. Eating carrots will improve your vision.

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is important for maintaining eye health, but eating large quantities of carrots or other foods containing vitamin A will not give you 20/20 vision if you don't already have it. In fact, too much vitamin A can be harmful to your health.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet, including carrots, can protect your eyesight, but won't make it any better.