You are on page 1of 6

Andria Barberi Professor Robert Rozema English 311 04/19/12 When Lightning Strikes Mythology A Conceptual Unit Using

The Lightning Thief as Guide for Teaching Mythology Inventory Mythology is a large part of the worlds culture. Though evidence of mythologys relevance in our daily lives has always around us, popular culture has recently become more interested in this part of our shared history. Because of television shows like Game of Thrones, films like Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,Immortals, and Clash of the Titans,and video games like the God of War and the Heroes of Might and Magic series, more and more students have become interested in mythology. The interest in mythology exists; therefore it is a great entry way for interesting students in literature. Greek mythology is thoroughly ingrained in our society from terms we use, such as mentor or Achilles Heel and symbols, such as winged sandals or the lightning bolt. Studying literature through mythology can be highly enjoyable for students, but it will also help them understand the references in the world around them. The middle school I envision myself teaching this conceptual unit at is my own middle school, which where I spent two years substitute teaching in 2002-2004. Greenville Middle School is located in the semi-rural town of Greenville, Michigan located approximately 35 miles north east of Grand Rapids. Greenville has four elementary schools, one middle school and

Barberi 2

one high school. The middle school consists of grades 6 through 8 and currently has 899 students according to the schools head office. Of those 899 students 94% are white, 4% Hispanic and 1% are African-American, according to, and 44% of the students are eligible for free lunch, a percentage that is just above the state average. In the 2010-2011 school year, the percentage of 7th grade students that rated proficient on the state level in the English Language Arts/Reading section of the MEAP test was 79%. There was a greater rate of proficiency among white students and female students than male, African-American or Hispanic students. I plan to teach this lesson in a 7th grade classroom of varying reading levels at this middle school. Greenville Middle School is facing many of the same challenges facing all schools today, but it works hard, in part through the Education Foundation of Greenville, to provide opportunities for teachers and leaders to create innovative and lasting improvements for their students. Theoretical Approach I believe a strong ability to read and write is one of the most important factors guiding children into adult life. Reading ability especially effects test-taking, therefore it plays a huge role in predicting a students future when education relies so heavily on test results. Beyond the educational realm, the reality that our world has become increasingly smaller has had a huge impact on the skills necessary to survive in the world of work. The ability to effectively communicate via email and to quickly learn the latest technology-based program are both important. Even the smallest businesses now use social media sites like facebook and twitter to communicate with their customers. Therefore, communication and the ability to do so through

Barberi 3

technology are essential skills to teach our students. Yet, the simple acts of reading and writing also greatly affects the internal life our students. Books serve as an escape, and in middle school, a time of raging hormones and a constantly changing social structure, the idea that a student can count on a book to offer them a release is both exciting and comforting. Because my justifications for the importance of English education are so broad, my theoretical approach to teaching literature is also broad. A Reader Response theoretical approach is so important because a hook is necessary to gain student trust. Choosing a book that will connect with students and choosing an approach that gives their opinions significance allows you to gain their trust. Gaining student trust is necessary because they then begin to believe you understand, value, and want to learn from them. After building confidence based on students interpretations, it is important to then expose them to the sociocultural context of the work they are reading. It is valuable to make connections to a piece of literature in a sociocultural context because it helps students understand the historical atmosphere of a piece of work, and it also shows how humans are connected over space and time. Following the same idea, a Sociocultural theoretical approach also demonstrates how ideas have changed over space and time, often in a positive way. This gives students a historical context while reinforcing the many ways to understand a piece of literature. Finally, it is also important to have an understanding of the common elements of a text, to understand literary terminology, and the functions of those terms through the shared experiences of canonical texts. Students can gain an understanding of formal elements and the text itself through a New Critical theoretical approach. I hope to allow my students to have the broadest possible chance to gain

Barberi 4

from their experiences in my classroom, and this is why I value all three of these theoretical approaches to teaching literature. Objectives Students will read the young adult novel The Lightning Thief. Students will demonstrate knowledge about Greek Mythology, mainly the Olympians. Students will create a fictional character built from their acquired knowledge of Greek Mythology. Students will demonstrate their capacity to integrate their literature skills with technology through a Wiki page. Students will form an analytical tool for gauging power between fictional characters. Texts The main text that I will use is Rick Riordans The Lightning Thief. With 375 pages, reading The Lightning Thief will be a big achievement for my students. To supplement the book I have created handouts and a PowerPoint presentation that will be utilized in chunks throughout the unit. Activities and Assessment This conceptual unit involves reading, journaling, small group and class discussion, as well as group and individual projects and general testing all designed to engage and assess student comprehension of the book, its underlying themes, and the mythological characters presented. We will follow a pattern of reading the book in class, while listening to the

Barberi 5

audiobook, along with assigned at-home reading. Any reading assigned as homework will be reviewed in the beginning of the following class to assure student comprehension and to provide a structure for students of reading and reflection. At times we will supplement this review with a summary activity to help students practice their summarizing ability, and to give me a different form of insight into student comprehension. We will also journal and discuss, or get in small groups and discuss pivotal scenes in the novel to allow for deeper reflection. To investigate the power structure in mythology and the novel, we will do an activity that asks students to evaluate the power hierarchy of the Greek gods we are learning about. The power hierarchy activity, Why Our Greek God Rules!, will help me assess student understanding of the presentations I make, while creating a fun and competitive atmosphere in the classroom. To integrate technology in the unit, literature circles will be asked to make a wiki for a character they create who is applying to Camp Half-Blood. This project will help them combine technology and literature, and the creation of their character will help them build their understanding of the qualities of the Greek gods. There will be one chapter quiz, after a chunk of weekend reading, that will help me assess the connections students are making to the literature, and one mythology test at the end of the unit to ensure the major gods and goddesses presented were absorbed. As a study tool and creative activity, students will also each make a card based on one of the mythological creatures in the novel. These cards will provide an image for the creature on the front and attributes on the back. Once completed, each student will have a set of over 30 cards to play with and study from. As a class we will create a game with our cards, utilizing the

Barberi 6

power structure already defined through our hierarchy activities. At the end of the unit, the students will have the chance to watch the film adaptation of the novel to look at the changes, omissions, and additions, and we will discuss how they affect the overall story. My hope is that through a variety of activities placed in a clear structure, my students will have an enriching experience reading The Lightning Thief, a solid understanding of the major gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology, and a greater appreciation for the very old words, ideas and symbols all around them.