K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • discuss Beowulf as a hero, drawing supporting details from the text.
  • generalize from these details a list of traits that apply to most heroes.
  • use these generalized traits to compare Beowulf with contemporary heroes.
  • determine a personal concept of hero.
  • create a booklet of personal heroes from a variety of areas and explain each choice.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 days

Materials/resources

  • Text of Beowulf
  • Bulletin board paper for creating comparison chart
  • Copies of quotation books (such as Bartlett’s Book of Quotations)
  • hero booklet instructions
  • Materials for hero booklet: construction paper, scissors, glue, typing paper, etc.

Technology resources

Access to computer lab

Pre-activities

Students should have read Beowulf.

Activities

Step One

Lead a discussion with the class to determine what makes Beowulf a hero. Ask students to refer to the text and name the specific activity that identifies Beowulf as a hero, such as “fought Grendel with no weapons.” As students give responses, list them on the board. After the list is generated, ask students to generalize from the specific details, the heroic traits that the list suggests. Typical responses are strength, wisdom, physical appearance, speaking ability, loyalty, occupation, bravery. Record these traits on the board.

Step Two

Transfer the traits to the left vertical column of a piece of bulletin board paper that has been formatted as a chart and taped or fastened to one wall in the room. Next, ask students to name some contemporary fictional heroes (limit to five or six heroes). Popular names that typically come up are Batman, Superman, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Rambo. Write these names, along with Beowulf’s, across the top of the bulletin board paper. With the class, complete the columns for Beowulf; for example, beside the trait strength, the class would record “has the strength of 30 men.”

Step Three

Divide the class into small groups and assign each group a hero from the chart. Instruct each group to discuss its assigned hero in terms of the traits listed on the chart, such as bravery, wisdom, loyalty, etc. The objective is to give specific examples to illustrate the particular trait for the hero. As soon as the group has completed its discussion, someone from the group should complete the columns on the chart for the group’s hero by filling in the specific example under the appropriate column. After the chart is completed for all the heroes, one member from each group will discuss the assigned hero, and then the teacher should lead the class in a discussion that draws the conclusion that heroes across the ages share basically the same traits. These activities should be accomplished in one class period.

Step Four

Students will spend the next two class periods completing the project. This project asks students to select 10-15 heroes from various areas, explain in specific terms why each one is a hero, and organize the information in the format of a booklet.

Assessment

Rubric for Booklet

  • Cover Page (title, quotation, citation) 15 points
  • Content (10-15 heroes) 20 points
  • Explanation (written in “because” clauses; specific details) 40 points
  • Mechanics/Usage 10 points
  • Appearance 15 points

Supplemental information

Comments

I used two resources as the basis for this lesson. The idea for the hero comparison chart is based on an activity from Notes Plus, a collection of teaching ideas published periodically by the National Council of Teachers of English. The idea for the booklet is based on the article “A Portfolio of Portraits” in the December 1978 issue of Saturday Review. This issue is devoted to the discussion of heroes and has several good articles that might serve as resources.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.RL.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.RL.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
      • Speaking & Listening

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly...
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and...
      • Writing

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. 11-12.W.2.1 Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas,...
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. 9-10.W.2.1 Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 12

  • Goal 2: The learner will inform an audience by exploring general principles at work in life and literature.
    • Objective 2.01: Locate, process, and comprehend texts that explain principles, issues, and concepts at work in the world in order to:
      - relate complex issues from a variety of critical stances.
      - discern significant differences and similarities among texts that propose different ideas related to similar concepts.
  • Goal 5: The learner will deepen understanding of British literature through exploration and extended engagement.
    • Objective 5.02: Extend engagement with selected works of British literature by:
      - observing how the imaginative experience of literature broadens and enriches real life.
      - relating style, meaning, and genre (including fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry).
      - applying literary, grammatical, and rhetorical terms of literature.
      - demonstrating in various print and non-print media the significance of works.
      -discerning the effect of interpreting literature from various critical perspectives.