Friday, June 08, 2007

best idea all year

I'm a big fan of pre-reading, so this all happened before we read a line of Homer. Apparently, people in the counseling office are still talking about it.

1. Begin at class. Students are locked out of the room. They pick up a handout and write the word “odyssey” (little o) at the top. At each location, we “circle up” and tell a story. At the end of each location, they write the destination and what it symbolizes (see list below).

2. Head to the fence around the basketball courts to simulate the gates of Troy. Recall how Odysseus helped the Greeks win the war. Set out back towards the classroom.

3. Blown away by a squall. Go to the theater. Inside the dark “cave,” tell the story of the Cyclops around a flashlight. Point out that Polyphemus was Poseidon’s son. Set out back towards the classroom.

4. See angry Poseidon in the distance (security guard); take a detour around the F building.

5. Walk through F building into staff lounge, where cookies are placed out with the sign “Cattle of the Sun God: Please do not eat.” Watch the students give in to temptation; then explain Helios’ punishment to those who ate his cattle.

6. Set out back towards the classroom. Unfortunately, the doors are “locked,” so we walked to the other entrance, past D-2. Students can take a shortcut through the land of the Laestrygonians. I ask for brave, strong volunteers who want to go first. They have to knock loudly on the door before going in. After a few start to walk through, D-2 students jump out and barrage us with paper boulders. The class retreats back outside. I explain that the Laestrygonians are mean, boulder-throwing cannibals, so we probably shouldn’t go that way after all.

7. Head to the top of the stairs to the parking lot. Tell the story of Circe who turned the crew into animals. Also mention the man Elpenor who fell down off the roof and died (gesture down the hill). Eventually Odysseus is able to escape, but Circe tells him he must first descend into the Underworld to bury Elpenor’s body and seek the advice from a prophet.

8. Descend into the underworld by walking down the stairs to the parking lot. At the bottom, tell how Odysseus makes a sacrifice to the shades who drink the blood and tell their stories. Mention Achilles, Odysseus’ mom, and Teiresias. Since it is always easier to go into the land of the dead than to escape, we take the long way back up (the ramp).

9. At the top of the ramp, circle around the far side of the D building. Before students pass between the D & E buildings, tell the story of Scylla and Charybdis. The D building will eat 6 students at once, but if you walk too close to the technology department, it will suck you in and you can never escape. Students must walk in a single-file line to get past these two monsters.

10. Just when they are almost home to Ithaca, one of the crew releases the bag of winds that was given to them from the god Aeolus, so they have to travel to the front office.

11. In the front office, Kelly generously acted as my Calypso. She chatted with the students for a bit, and they were told how Odysseus really enjoyed hanging out in the office but he also felt a bit trapped. Hermes (someone in the attendance office) calls and tells Calypso (Kelly) that the class should be sent back.

12. Calypso has built a nice raft, but unfortunately Odysseus gets shipwrecked one more time and is swept away by the current towards the library. At the library, tell the story of Nausicaa and how Odysseus pretended to be a stranger and started crying at the banquet when he heard the bard singing of the Trojan War. Inside the library, students must find the story of Odysseus (show they know how to checkout an English 9 book from the front desk).

13. Finally we return home to Ithaca, but the door is locked. The last obstacle Odysseus must overcome is to face the suitors. Explain how he disguised himself with the help of his son and his shepherd Eumaeus.

14. Let students return to the classroom and fill out survey questions at the bottom. Discuss favorite stops, see how much they remember. Mention what was left out—how could the sirens have been depicted? What about the Cicones? Finally, differentiate between the proper noun “Odyssey” and the general term “odyssey” to mean any journey filled with adventure and obstacles, even metaphorical.

Basketball courts Trojan War
Benches Lotus-Eaters
Theater Cave of Cyclops
Staff lounge Cattle of the Sun God
D2 Laestrygonians
stairs to parking lot Circe
Bottom of stairs the Underworld
Scylla and Charbydis between the D & E buildings
Front office Calypso
Library Nausicaa
D-1 Ithaca

6 Comments:

Blogger Guy Wonders said...

Brilliant. What a great way to invite excitement about reading. I'll bet that more than a few of the kids will remember this. . . .

5:50 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Can I steal this idea?

Jessica,
This is awesome. Finding ideas like this is incredible, and it takes such a good teacher to execute them properly. I don't know if you know about webenglishteacher.com, but if you go there under the Heroes sections, you will find a template for your students to write their own hero's jopurney.

4:44 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Yes, steal away. And yeah, I'm familiar with webenglishteacher.com and heard about the write-your-own quest idea before. Thanks.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Guy, I wouldn't call it brilliant--more of a way to combat apathy for a complex text. :)

7:43 PM  
Blogger Stormmaster said...

I envy your students. I wish my teachers would have been so creative.

12:36 AM  
Blogger James said...

I am impressed. This is really well thought out and it sounds like it was nicely executed.

7:48 PM  

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