Module FOUR- Urban Legends&Folklore

May 4 - May 15

Essential Questions

1) What are folk tales worth reading?

2) How do folk tales/UL reflect a culture?

3) How does researching Urban Legends help us acquire critical thinking skills?

At the completion of this module you can expect to:

  • Critically read and evaluate a variety of non fiction and informational texts.
  • Support your critical analysis by answering specific questions on the text using textual evidence.
  • Participate in the class' discussion board.
  • Create original interactive multimedia researched products.

Assignment #1 - What Are Urban legends?

Read the presentation below and then take the quiz. Then post below at least one example of an urban legend that you know about or have heard (look up at or The comment on at least one other's student's posting answering why you can tell it is an urban legend.

The Presentation:

The Quiz:

ASSIGNMENT #2 - Research an Urban Legend

Pick a classmate'a Urban Legend (from assignment #1) and research it. Include here 1) The title of the legend 2) If it is True or False 3) How you know that (include your analysis as well as internet analysis).

First Steps to Research Urban Legends:

  1. Consider the form of the information passed along to you. Is it a narrative -a story with a beginning, a middle & end?
  2. Does it feature a "twist" ending?
  3. Sounds a bit outlandish but can still be possible.
  4. They are told as "if true" - "This really happened" or "My brother's co-worker told him"
  5. Have you heard the same story from different sources with details changed?
  6. Does it sound too good to be true?
  7. Are there common sense reasons to disbelieve?

Then research using Urban Legends sites such as or in general search engines such as Google.


Assignment # 3 - ThingLink

Thinglink is a way to make pictures interactive. You are going to make an interactive picture on a urban legend, by doing so you will create an online "encyclopedia" of your urban legend.

Your page needs:

1) A background photo that represents your legend

2) A video about your legend

3) An audio recording of the story (you can find or use Voki to do this)

4) The story itself (you can usually find online)

5) An explanation about your legend (yours or what you find online)

6) Your paragraph summary about your urban legend

ThingLink Example:

Assignment # 4 - Internet Based Urban legends

Read the article below and answer TWO questions in our model paragraph form.

— Had you heard of Slenderman before reading the article? If so, where did you learn about that folk story?

— Do you think Internet-based horror and other memes pose danger in real life? Why or why not? Use references from the text.

— What are other Internet rumors–about haunted places, creepy figures, unexplained occurrences–that you know? Explain and also find a source.

— How has the Internet and social media changed the way the stories are passed down? Explain with references to the text.

— What is gained and lost by being able to post (or read) a scary story or rumor online, versus hearing it told to you or a small group of people? Why?


Assignment #5 - Urban Legends of NYC (EC)

Read the exceprt about a place that inspired an urban legend here:

In “Fixer Upper: Hollywood Mansion; May Be Cursed,” Adam Nagourney writes:

The mansion, which has never been legally occupied, is the subject of gossip and rumor-trading, some of it outlandish, but some of it, it turns out, quite true. It is feeding Los Angeles’s fascination with real estate, sumptuous homes and a good plot — and all the better that it is a real estate whodunit.

“It has great views, but it is cursed,” David Tollefson, an airline attendant, said while hiking by the home as dusk fell, lighting up the hues of the scrub-covered hills and canyons of Hollywood that are its backyard. “It’s a haunted house. Or I’ve heard it’s an alien landing site. I’ve been asking everyone what this is, and no one wants to talk.”

Added Jason Victor, a hotel worker hiking with Mr. Tollefson: “Have you heard about this being an Indian burial ground?”

… Many of the tales of this house — like the murder that supposedly took place on the pool table in the billiards room — are urban legend, said Mr. Morgan, 53, the house guard, who was wearing camouflage shorts, a cap and no shirt as he opened the padlocked gate to allow a visitor inside.

… But many of the tales are quite real.

Gangs, among them the notorious Armenian Power, really did turn the house into a clubhouse, the police said. Gang tags are still visible on the walls. Teenagers commandeered the carpeted first floor for weekend raves.

1) Tell what urban legends — or gossip and rumor about outlandish events — you’ve heard about a house, park, store, abandoned lot or any other place near your home. If you can’t think of any, review the following websites for some Urban Legends of NYC.

2) Discuss your thought on your urban legend. Is it foolish to believe it? Do you think is may be true? Explain why with detailed reasons.

Link #1

Link #2

Link #3:

Assignment #6 - What is African FolkLore?

“If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the
backs of those who have gone before us.”
-- African proverb

Read the article below, annotate the text and using textual evidence, answer the following questions:

1. What is found in the book “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales”?

2. Why does Henry Louis Gates, Jr., think that the time is right to publish this collection of folk tales?

3. What are the themes of the stories in this book?

4. What does Mr. Gates think of the state of African oral tradition?

5. What did Jason Berry say about “African Folktales: Traditional Stories of the Black World” when it was published?

6. According to the author of the article, how is this book’s reception different from the reaction to “African Folktales: Traditional Stories of the Black World”?

Assignment #7 - Research African Folklore

View Presentation on African Folklore.

  1. Find an African Folklore story (links to some places are listed below or you can Google “Africa FolkLore”).

  2. Share a link to your fable AND write a short summary about the fable.

  3. Decide which category the fable falls under (above) and explain why you think this.

Assignment #8 - A Very Old Man With Enormous

1) With a partner, answer the close reading questions in Zaption.

2) Discuss answers.

3) If time, answer question in Padlet.

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Study Guide

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Study Guide

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" in 1955, and gave it the subtitle of A Tale For Children. "Very Old Man" is perhaps the clearest and most famous example of a genre that Garcia Marquez helped to create: magical realism. This style, simply put, combines elements of ordinary life with elements of fantasy and magic. One might say that a work of magical realism treats the magical as ordinary - and thus invites us to consider the ordinary as magical. Despite containing similarities to folk legends and fairy tales, stories adhereing to "magic realism" avoid the naive moral judgments found in those folk genres. Instead, magical realism creates a complex and problematic world free of moral lessons or any maxims.

"Very Old Man" can be read on many levels. On first read, it can be deceptively simple: a tale of a town dealing with a lost angel. It sounds like a children's story, which is precisely what Marquez called it. Indeed, Marquez relies heavily on the myths and legends of rural South America and draws from such folk-sources' naivite and simple style. But rather than use these folk elements in a straight-forward manner, Marquez concentrates on their openness to interpretation. The story calls into question the manner in which humans make sense of their world - through stories, tales, interpretations, conversations, conventions, etc.

This suggests, in fact, that "Very Old Man" is a story about stories, and indeed many critics suspect that the tale is a veiled allegory for Garcia Marquez's own experience with fame - after all, Marquez was world famous following the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude. These critics see the old man in the story as the artist/writer, and the village respone to his arrival as a satirization of the relationship between a creative artist and the public. Indeed, the process of reception and interpretation is a constant focus of the story.

"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is, perhaps, Garcia Marquez's most widely read work. It contains many of the elements that define his great novels - uncertain time and setting, a style that mixes the documentary with the fantastic, a purposefully open-ended conclusion - yet its much shorter length makes it his most accessible contribution to magical realism. The story is often used to exemplify types of literature: magical realism, Latin American literature, etc. Yet this tendency to contextualize the story should not overshadow its value as a story. Witty, sad, and haunting, the story rewards many re-readings.

Understanding "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"