Exploring morals and ethical concepts through fables and storytelling

SubjectEnglish YearYear 7 Time350

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Introduction

In this set of interconnected learning experiences, students engage with ancient stories to discover the powerful messages they contain. They explore greed versus sharing through examining the choices of characters in fables and by considering what characters ‘ought’ to have done. They explore rights and responsibilities and the lesson of listening to people and respecting their wishes by viewing a creation myth. Students also examine how stories are structured and create meaning. They demonstrate their learning by creating a modern day story with a moral.

By engaging students with ancient stories with a clear moral message, including an Aboriginal Dreamtime story, these learning experiences support students to develop intercultural and ethical understanding. Students explore the nature of ethical concepts, values and character traits and understand how reasoning can assist ethical judgment. They develop an awareness of the influence of their values and behaviour on others.

These concepts are foundational for students to become active and informed citizens.

Australian Curriculum or Syllabus

Achievement standard

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

By the end of Year 7, students understand how text structures can influence the complexity of a text and are dependent on audience, purpose and context. They demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning.

Students explain issues and ideas from a variety of sources, analysing supporting evidence and implied meaning. They select specific details from texts to develop their own response, recognising that texts reflect different viewpoints. They listen for and explain different perspectives in texts.

Productive modes (speaking, writing and creating)

Students understand how the selection of a variety of language features can influence an audience. They understand how to draw on personal knowledge, textual analysis and other sources to express or challenge a point of view. They create texts showing how language features and images from other texts can be combined for effect.

Students create structured and coherent texts for a range of purposes and audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language features to engage the audience. When creating and editing texts they demonstrate understanding of grammar, use a variety of more specialised vocabulary and accurate spelling and punctuation.

Content descriptions

Literature

Discuss aspects of texts, for example their aesthetic and social value, using relevant and appropriate metalanguage (ACELT1803).

Literacy

Use interaction skills when discussing and presenting ideas and information, selecting body language, voice qualities and other elements, (for example music and sound) to add interest and meaning (ACELY1804).

Analyse and explain the ways text structures and language features shape meaning and vary according to audience and purpose (ACELY1721).

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725).

Edit for meaning by removing repetition, refining ideas, reordering sentences and adding or substituting words for impact (ACELY1726).

Use a range of software, including word processing programs, to confidently create, edit and publish written and multimodal texts (ACELY1728).

Teacher resources

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Quotes visualiser

Greed and sharing

 
Story

The Ant and the Grasshopper

 
Focus questions visualiser

Fables and storytelling

 
Video

Moon Man

 
Deconstruction visualiser

The Ant and the Grasshopper

 
Teacher tool

Talking cards

Student learning resources

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Graphic organiser

Structure of a narrative

 
Story

The Goose that laid the Golden Egg

 
Story

The Dog in the manger

 
Assessment task

Year 7 narrative writing task

Suggested activity sequence

This sequence is intended as a framework to be modified and adapted by teachers to suit the needs of a class group. If you assign this activity to a class, your students will be assigned all student resources on their 'My learning' page. You can also hand-pick the resources students are assigned by selecting individual resources when you add a work item to a class in 'My classes'.

Part A: Exploring morals

Solo and pair thinking

You will need post-it notes for this activity

  1. Display the greed versus sharing slide on the quotes visualiser and invite students to think about what they mean.
  2. Students share their thinking with a partner and decide on a real-life example, or an example from literature that exemplifies the meaning of each quote. Students write their example on a post-it note to display on the classroom wall.
  3. Students read the examples of other students.

Think-pair-share

  • What is a moral?
  • How are morals reinforced in society?
  • Does everyone share the same morals? Why?
  • Consider the story of The Three Little Pigs. What is the moral in this story?
  • Does this moral have relevance today?

Through student sharing of their response, the meaning of a moral should become clear: Morals are statements of how we should behave or how we should do things. They are life lessons.

Part B: Deconstructing fables and creation myths

Introducing fables

  1. Explain to students what a fable is:

    A fable is a short piece of fiction that features animals in the role of the main character and usually includes or illustrates a moral. A fable can also have other inanimate objects, mythical creatures, or forces of nature as main characters. The distinguishing feature of a fable is the projection of human characteristics and qualities to animals or deities and the inclusion of a moral lesson. At times, this moral lesson is summed up at the end of the fable in a short maxim.

  2. Ask: Why do you think fables use animals and deities (gods) as main characters?
  3. Explain that many films made for children are modern interpretations of the fable genre. An example is Toy Story.
  4. Students brainstorm films that are modern fables, such as:
    • Bambi
    • Ratatouille
    • Cars
    • WALL-E
    • Finding Nemo
    • Shrek
    • Madagascar
    • Kung Fu Panda.

Discussing ethical concepts

  1. Read the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper aloud to students.
  2. Use the focus questions visualiser to prompt discussion about the fable. As a class discuss each question in turn.

Disco Walking

  1. Ask students to think about answers to the questions below:
    • What might be the benefits of planning for your future?
    • Are you most like the Grasshopper or the Ant? Explain.
    • Can the moral of this story be applied to the management of money? How?
  2. Play music.
  3. Students walk around the room and when the music stops, talk to the person closest to them about their responses to the first question.
  4. Repeat the process until answers to all 3 questions have been shared.
  5. Discuss all the responses as a class.

Use concentric circles or other discussion strategy as an alternative strategy.

Introducing an Aboriginal Dreamtime story

  1. Explain to students what Dreamtime stories are:

    Dreamtime or creation stories often explain how the country, animals and people came to be as they are. They tell us when things were made, why they were made and how they were made. Creation stories are children's stories with moral tones that reinforce correct behaviour.

  2. Explain to students that they will be viewing one film in a series called Dust Echoes.
  3. Display the slide on Dust Echoes on the quotes visualiser. Discuss with students why it is important that Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are shared.
  4. Play Moon Man. This short film depicts a creation myth that tells us about the origin of the moon and its monthly cycle.
  5. Use the focus questions visualiser to display the questions for this story. As a class discuss each question in turn.

Disco Walking

  1. Ask students to think about answers to the questions below.
    • Do you think the story has any relevance to your life today? How?
    • Think of a story about revenge and violence you learned as a child. Is this story appropriate for children?
    • Can the moral of this story be applied to your responsibilities as a member of society?
  2. Play music.
  3. Students walk around the room and when the music stops, talk to the person closest to them about their responses to the first question.
  4. Repeat the process until answers to all 3 questions have been shared.
  5. Discuss all the responses as a class.

    Use Concentric circles or other discussion strategy as an alternative strategy.

Modelling deconstruction

  1. Re-read the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper using the deconstruction visualiser. As you read the story, give students time to answer the questions on each page and share their answers.
  2. Discuss the moral and how it relates to modern day real-life contexts such as:
    • spending now or saving for later
    • financial planning
    • limited resources
    • environmental sustainability.

Deconstructing a story in pairs

Creation myth

  1. Use a grouping strategy to organise students into pairs.
  2. Pairs of students use the graphic organiser to deconstruct Moon Man. If necessary, replay the short film.
  3. Discuss student responses.
  4. Discuss the moral and how it relates to modern day real-life contexts such as:
    • the consequences of being selfish and inconsiderate
    • responsibilities as family members and citizens
    • why we should listen and respect the wishes of others.

Fable

  1. Divide the class into 2.
  2. Allocate one-half of the class The Goose that laid the Golden Egg and the other half The Dog in the Manger.
  3. Ask students to pair with a student who has been allocated the same story.
  4. Pairs use the graphic organiser to identify the structural elements of the story they have been given to read.
  5. For their chosen story, students consider:
    • the moral dilemma
    • ethical concepts
    • character traits
    • values
  6. Pairs of students connect with another pair who chose a different fable to explain its structure and discuss the morals, ethical concepts, values and character traits advanced in each fable.
  7. Conduct a class discussion using the final 2 slides on the focus questions visualiser as a prompt.

Part C: Independent writing

Brainstorming in groups

  1. Use a grouping strategy to organise students into groups of 4.
  2. Students brainstorm examples from their own experiences or those of others in their age group that illustrate the consequences of the following for both the individual and society:
    • being selfish and inconsiderate
    • not sharing what you have and do not need
    •  

    To encourage collaborative and purposeful talk, distribute a set of talking cards to each group.

Writing a narrative

Students complete the narrative writing task. They should be given at least 2 lessons to write their stories and one lesson to publish their stories using information and communication technology (ICT).