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The Superhero Handbook

The Superhero Handbook

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Published by Beth Menzies
This activity is self-differentiating and works great with all levels of kids, including GT, IB, and AP. Connecting ancient texts to students' own lives is a key way to cross the cultural divide that often gets in the way of students’ interpretation of Beowulf. We study the beauty and tragedy of the culture and the text carefully and also make personal connections such as the ones in this activity.
This activity is self-differentiating and works great with all levels of kids, including GT, IB, and AP. Connecting ancient texts to students' own lives is a key way to cross the cultural divide that often gets in the way of students’ interpretation of Beowulf. We study the beauty and tragedy of the culture and the text carefully and also make personal connections such as the ones in this activity.

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Published by: Beth Menzies on Sep 18, 2009
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09/15/2010

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THE SUPERHERO HANDBOOK: HOW TO BECOME A SUPERHERO IN 30MINUTES OR LESS!In order to become a superhero, you have to figure out what your superhero identity is.As we’ve discussed in class, a superhero has several qualities. It isn’t much of a stretch totake “Mr. or Ms. Ordinary” and make him or her into a superhero. All you have to do is“hyperbolize” yourself and qualities you already possess, and wa-la! Instant superhero.The following are the components of the superhero that we identified in class. Use thespace below to brainstorm about your superhero qualities.All superheroes have a superpower, something that makes them “better than everyoneelse” in some way. Something that makes them “super” natural or “uber”extraordinary. Search within yourself for a quality you possess that makes youspecial, unique, good, a positive force in the universe. Perhaps you are someonewhose practical nature makes everyone turn to you to solve problems. Perhaps you’regreat with tools or with a paintbrush. Perhaps you can fix up machinery that othersfind puzzling. Whatever your quality is, you can hyperbolize it (exaggerate it) andthen symbolize it so that it becomes part of your superhero identity. Sometimes thisquality is something that others wouldn’t think is special at all, but to you, it is.Sometimes, you haven’t discovered your “superpower” yet, so it manifests as anegative. Also, sometimes there is a “down side” to your superhero power, at least inthe regular world. Your superhero power gets in the way, making it hard for you to be“normal,” to blend in with the crowd.My quality I wish to hyperbolize into a superpower: _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  ____ Does this quality so distinguish you that it makes it hard for you to blend in? For example, in the movie
The Incredibles
, Violet’s superpower is that she can becomeinvisible and create barriers that keep offenders at a distance. Such a power is great for asuperhero. But in her life, her gift was her curse. She was so good at making herself invisible and putting up barriers that she had become a very lonely girl in the “real”world.The “down side” to my superhero ability is: _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  ____ A superhero’s power usually manifests in symbolic form. For example, Violet’s mother Elastagirl has the power to stretch herself and change her form to meet any need. The perfect skill for a mother and wife, don’t you think?! So, how does your superheroquality manifest in the world? What magical power do you possess? How does that power go with your quality?
 
Superheroes always have emblematic names: Spiderman, Batman, Sarcasto (that’s myhusband’s superhero identity). What is your superhero name going to be and why? _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  ___ What is the thing in your life that most gets in the way of your expression of the power/quality you’ve identified? _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  ___  Now turn this thing into your arch-nemesis.What power does he or she have, and in what manner does that power manifest?________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  __ Use examples from popular culture as models (The Riddler, The Joker, Two-Face, etc.) Now try to figure out what your central weakness, the place where you are “marked” likeOedipus (his very name means “wounded foot”) or Achilles. Another example isSuperman’s weakness to Kryptonite. Why was he vulnerable to this rock? Find your kryptonite and explain it below. _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  _______________________________________________________________________  ___ Your job is to assemble your superhero identity from the notes you’ve taken so far. Usethe separate sheet (or compose your own) as a resource. Follow these steps:1.Draw your superhero figure in the outfit design of your choice. For your convenience, you may find images or make them in the computer. Stick figuresare ok as long as you draw them completely and carefully.2.Under your superhero figure, write the superhero name (i.e. Spiderman, Sarcasto)3.Next, write your superhero power somewhere on the assignment. For example,“able to leap over buildings in a single bound!4.Draw your superhero nemesis figure somewhere on the page. Use a “thought bubble” to have him say his power, for example “I’ll destroy you Sarcasto. Justwait until I get to stamp you (the stamp shows “normal” on it)”.5.On the back, write a one page comparison to
 Beowulf 
. In what ways are you likeBeowulf and unlike him? What similarities and differences do you see betweenyour identify (the superhero and the mortal identity it represents)?
 
SUPER HERO IDENTITY FOR _____________________________________________ Draw your superhero figure and your Nemesis below—remember, a superhero is only asgood as his or her outfit!

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