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OPTIONAL COURSE: A Journey Through the Worlds of Fantasy
GRADE: 12th intensive study
LEVEL: Advanced
NO. OF CLASSES / WEEK: 1 class/week
UNIT: “J.K.Rowling-A Fantasy Writer’s Recipe for Success”
LESSON: “Harry Potter – A Developing Hero?”
TYPE OF LESSON: Practising the receptive and productive skills
using critical thinking strategies
MOTIVATION: This lesson was conceived in order to provide the students with more
in-depth information on one of today’s highly popular fantasy series, Harry Potter,
helping students to analyse the hero status of its protagonist in relation to the general
features of this archetype. The use of critical thinking strategies will allow the students to
express their thoughts, opinions and feelings on the subject in a personal manner,
motivating them to actively participate in the class activities.
PRELIMINARY CONDITIONS: The students will base their new acquisitions on the
knowledge they have already acquired during this optional course on fantasy literature
and on the information taken from the media on the Harry Potter series. They are also
familiarised with some of the critical thinking strategies to be used in this lesson.
1. to be able to brainstorm on a given topic
2. to select and comment upon significant quotations from a text
3. to analyse ideas in a text and then share them with a classmate
4. to express and argument their opinions
5. to feel confident about engaging in a debate on a given subject
TECHNIQUES: conversation, explanation, identification, scanning, debate;
Critical thinking strategies: clustering, dual entry diary, reciprocal teaching, corners
MATERIALS: worksheets, notebooks, blackboard, picture
TIME MANAGEMENT: the lesson will take 50 minutes.
EVALUATION: the systematic observation of the students, analysing the arguments
they bring to support their opinions, analysing the products of their activity

Duriez, C. 2003. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The Story of Their Friendship, Sutton
Publishing, Gloucestershire
Rowling, J.K. 2004. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2004. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2004. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2004. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2004. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2006. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bloomsbury, London
Rowling, J.K. 2008. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Bloomsbury, London
Steele,J.,Meredith,K.,Temple,Ch. 1998. Un cadru pentru dezvoltarea gândirii critice
la diversele materii de studiu, LSDGC.
Whited, L.A. (ed.) 2002. The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter. Perspectives on a Literary
Phenomenon, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London.Available at:
*** Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2005, Oxford University Press [Online].
Available at:
*** SparkNotes – Harry Potter. Available at: harry+potter& searchbg=&template
=default&output= xml_no_dtd&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&client= default_frontend
&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&site=default_collection&x=17& y=28)

I. EVOCATION (10 minutes)

1. Ice-breaker (lockstep)
The students are told they are going to see the picture of one of the most famous
fictional characters nowadays; they have to guess who it is. The answers may be: Frodo,
Spiderman, Superman, etc. Some students will probably guess it is Harry Potter. The
teacher shows the picture and sticks it on the blackboard; underneath she writes his name:
HARRY POTTER. The students are asked to find at least three words that can be formed
with the letters that form the name: “potter”, “pot”, “art”, “try”, “heart”, etc. At least one
student will probably discover the word HERO – the theme word of the lesson.
2. Clustering (individual work)
The nucleus word, HERO, is written in the middle of the page, and for five minutes,
each student has to write down around it any idea that comes to mind on this topic. Then,
connections may be drawn between ideas. The students should make no judgement about
the thoughts, just put them down. When the time is up, the students will read their ideas,
and as many as possible will be written on the blackboard.
The students might associate the theme word with: bravery, endurance, faith, strength,
optimism, reward, fight, good vs. evil, growth, fear, intelligence, Hercules, Harry Potter,
Frodo, Prince Caspian, etc.
The teacher then announces that, since they started with the picture of Harry Potter, he
will be the character they will discuss during this class.


1. Dual Entry Diary (individual work)
The students are given a worksheet presenting quotations from the Harry Potter books
that may be used to analyse the main character. They must read the quotations, and then,
on a white sheet of paper, they must draw a vertical line. On one side they should write
the quotations that attracted their attention, on the other side they should put down some
comments about that quote. At the end, the students will share their opinions with the rest
of the class.
Students should comment on the fact that some of the quotations show Harry Potter as
a true hero, while others show some of his weaknesses and problems he encounters.
2. Reciprocal Teaching (pair work)
Now the students are distributed a two-page worksheet presenting some critical
considerations on Harry Potter’s hero status. An explanation of some difficult words is
also included. The students must work in pairs, each member of the pair being
responsible for one page of the worksheet, read it and take out the main ideas. Then the
members of the pairs take turns playing the role of “teacher”, summarising what was just
read, trying to clarify the parts that are unclear. They try to extract the main ideas and to
express their opinion on the passages.
Students should notice that, while some of the passages present the general traits of a
hero and the way Harry Potter fits into this pattern, others present Harry as an anti-hero,
or at least an unlikely hero. Again, the ideas are then shared with the rest of the class.

III. REFLECTION (15 minutes)

1. Corners (group work)
The students have already reached the conclusion that Harry Potter can be seen either
as a typical hero, fitting perfectly into the pattern of this archetype, or as an anti-hero, due
to his weaknesses. His successes might be due to his good luck or to the fact that he is
protected by powerful forces and people (his mother’s sacrifice, Dumbledore, his friends
etc.). A question arises: Is Harry Potter a real hero? This is the subject of the next
The teacher asks the students to write for three minutes, presenting their opinions on the
subject. Then the students who believe that Harry is really a hero are asked to go to one
corner of the room. Those who believe the opposite is true should go to another corner.
There may be students who undecided, or who believe that Harry presents some
characteristics of the hero type, but these do not make him a real hero; they will occupy
another corner of the room.
The students in each group share their papers with the rest of the group for five
minutes. The group will then have two select two spokespersons to represent them in the
debate that will follow.
The teacher calls for a debate, by inviting each of the groups, in turn, to state succinctly
its position and the major reasons for supporting their view. Once the formal statement
has been presented by the spokespersons, other members of the groups should be
encouraged to participate in the debate. The teacher may stimulate the conversation when
necessary, by raising other issues, related to those that have been presented.
The teacher explains to the participants that they should feel free to switch groups at
any time, if they have been persuaded by another group’s arguments. Participants should
also take notes on their thinking while they listen and discuss.
When the time is almost up, the teacher encourages the students to reach some
consensus and then stops the discussion.

IV. EXTENSION (5 minutes; lockstep)

The students are invited to use the ideas they have acquired during this activity in order
to write a position paper, setting out their individual positions and the reasons behind
them (no less then 200 words).
The teacher praises the students and marks the best contributions. The class is






• "[The Sorting Hat] only put me in Gryffindor," said Harry in a defeated voice,
because I asked not to go in Slytherin." "Exactly," said Dumbledore, beaming once
more. "Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that
show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." (The Chamber of Secrets)
• “But yeh must know about yer mom and dad,” he said. “I mean, they’re famous.
You’re famous.” (Hagrid, The Philosopher’s Stone)
• “By attempting to kill you, Voldemort himself singled out the remarkable person
who sits here in front of me, and gave him the tools for the job.” (Dumbledore, The Half-
Blood Prince)
• "The wand chooses the wizard. […] I think we must expect great things from you,
Mr. Potter....After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things—terrible, yes, but
great" (Mr. Ollivander, The Philosopher’s Stone).
• "There are strange likenesses between us, after all. Even you must have noticed.
Both half-bloods, orphans, raised by muggles. Probably the only two Parselmouths to
come to Hogwarts since the great Slytherin himself" (Tom Marvolo Riddle aka
Voldemort, The Chamber of Secrets).
• "…he was not going to die kneeling at Voldemort's feet...he was going to die
upright like his father, and he was going to die trying to defend himself even if no
defence was possible..." (Harry, The Goblet of Fire).
• "His mother died in the attempt to save him—and unwittingly provided him with a
protection I admit I had not foreseen....I could not touch the boy." (Voldemort, The
Goblet of Fire).
• “We thought you knew what you were doing! . . . We thought Dumbledore had
told you what to do, we thought you had a real plan!” (Ron, The Deathly Hallows)
• “ ‘So,’ said Harry, dredging up the words from what felt like a deep well of
despair inside him, ‘so does that mean that . . . that one of us has got to kill the other one
. . . in the end?’ ” (The Order of the Phoenix)
• “Well, they’re writing about you as though you’re this deluded, attention-seeking
person who thinks he’s a great tragic hero or something,” said Hermione, very fast, as
though it would be less unpleasant for Harry to hear these facts quickly.” (The Order of
the Phoenix)
“Heroes respond to a call to sacrifice and to give their lives. Their lives begin in the
ordinary world, where they are summoned to adventure and perilous tasks. This involves,
with the help of a mentor, crossing a threshold into another world in which they undergo
various trials and encounter allies and foes. There are other elements in the journey, but
eventually the hero returns to the ordinary world bearing something of benefit. The
journey is an archetypal pattern, and there are myriad ways in which a story may be told
and yet display the archetype […] Harry’s great returning gift is that of hope – hope that
seemingly implacable evil will be overcome.”

“[Harry] is not in fact strictly a hero in classical terms, but an ordinary boy, mundane
and reluctant […]. Although he has remarkable gifts of magic, he has to rely on moral
courage and on his friends to accomplish his tasks. He is not the self-sufficient,
individualistic hero. In mythic terms, he is very like the ordinary hobbits Frodo and Sam
in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, whose weakness and small stature accomplish what the great
and powerful cannot. […] Harry’s testings and trials prepare him for his ultimate
suffering in the last book, which leads at last to healing and peace.”
(Colin Duriez, The Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter, 2007, pp. 168-169)

Summon, tr.v. sum·moned = To order to take a specified action; bid.

Mundane, adj. = Relating to, characteristic of, or concerned with commonplaces;
Reluctant, adj. = Unwilling; disinclined.
Self-sufficient, adj. = Able to provide for oneself without the help of others;

“Rowling has been very clear on the Bildungsroman aspect of her series, having
said of Harry, “I do want him to grow up”. […] Most heroes journey as part of their
development. […] he journeys each year to Hogwarts […] a place of tests: some
academic, some practical, some moral. Many of these tests include adventure, danger,
choice – heady stuff that forces Harry to grow or fail. And failure in a universe of magic
is too often fatal.” (Mary Pharr, Harry Potter as Hero-in-Progress in The Ivory Tower
and Harry Potter, 2002, p.58)
Heady, adj. = extremely exciting.
“[…] Harry is not the most focused or relentless hero, at least not until later in the
book. His tendency to stray from his quest is not literal or physical, but mental and
emotional. When there are no clear leads and nothing to do, […] Harry tends to lose
focus and drift, following his emotions. This happens most dangerously in Godric’s
Hollow, when Harry leads them into a trap, his real reasons for going there having
nothing to do with the quest and everything to do with his grief and doubt concerning

“Because Harry was famous before he even knew he was a wizard, much of his
personality is shaped by his desire to live up to his fame. He steers clear of special
treatment, flattery, and praise. He strives to live a normal wizard's life, and to a great
extent he does. He has close friendships, enemies, dilemmas, and triumphs just like any
other twelve-year-old boy. But Harry is distinct because of his courage and loyalty.”

“Harry is not a typical or mythological hero. He is an underdog, with his skinny

stature, broken glasses, and relative inexperience in the wizard world. Yet he lives up to
his fame by bravely entering situations with the inborn faith that someone - either himself
or someone he has befriended - will get him through the situation alive.”

(SparkNotes. Available at: harry+potter&

searchbg=&template=default&output= xml_no_dtd&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&client=
Relentless, adj. = Steady and persistent; unremitting.
Stray, intr.v. strayed = To deviate from the correct course.
Drift, n. = The direction in which something is going.
Underdog, n. = One at a disadvantage and expected to lose.
Inborn, adj. = Natural; possessed by a person from birth.
Picture to be presented during the Evocation stage of the lesson: