ILIAD Debriefing and Wrap-Up

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SWBAT demonstrate applied comprehension through writing, collaboration, and discussion.

Big Idea

"You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger." Gautama Buddha

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

My class periods are held in 100-minute block sessions every other day.  Activities in this lesson take one class period to complete. 

Over the last two classes, I gave students time to (1) read the Iliad excerpts - Books 18, 22, and 24, in our literature book Language of Literature (McDougal Littell) independently and (2) write a one-page response and five questions and/or observations, including where the text leaves uncertain, on each book.  Students completed any unfinished portions for homework.

Teachers can use additional options for independent reading: 

  • Allow students to read independently and complete the assignment at home: this provides time for students to process the text and conduct research online to help fill comprehension gaps; to avoid use of SparkNotes and plagiarism altogether,  I would advise requiring students to submit work through Turnitin is an effective tool for teaching students the value of original work through its plagiarism checker; it also provides resources for students and teachers to check grammar, usage, and mechanics through teacher and peer feedback features.
  • Allow students to read independently, working with a partner to answer questions and write a common response: this provides an opportunity for students to discuss their interpretations; work together to clarify questions and observations; reach a consensus about their responses; and find evidence to substantiate them.
  • Have students read independently at home or in class and share their text-dependent answers to questions and reader responses in small-groups, listing observations or questions about the text as a group and including matters the text leaves uncertain: this provides opportunities for students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate their interpretations while forming a consensus around them.

Today students debrief on the text and complete a performance task to demonstrate their understanding of the text and convey their interpretations.

Warm-Up: Just What DO You Think?

17 minutes

Since our class meets every other day and the time between first exploring the Iliad background and today has been over one week, I decide to let students work with a partner on a warm-up to answer some comprehension questions (Warm-Up: Comprehension Questions for the ILIAD) from the textbook that require students to review action in the text and reexamine their interpretations of it.  Letting them work together provides an oral and written review of the text; and begins a dialogue on their synthesis and evaluation of Achilles' journey as an epic hero.

Today students will use their warm-up work (Warm-Up: Comprehension Questions for the ILIAD) as a springboard for discussion in collaborative workgroups to debrief on the epic poem.

Text and Clip: Books 22 and 24 - Differences and Debriefing

20 minutes

I tell students to put their warm-ups aside for group work coming up, and explain that we are going to watch clips from the movie "Troy" (Warner Brothers, 2004) of the battle between Hector and Achilles (5:46) from Book 22, and the meeting between Priam and Achilles (3:32) in Book 24 of the Iliad.  

I ask them to write down differences they see between the text and the clip.

After watching the clips, students discuss the differences they wrote down (Student Work: Differences Between Text and Clip - Books 22 and 24) with a partner.  Then we debrief as a class.  One point students make is that in both clips, the interference of the gods is not included.  Moreover, they note that the clips do not portray Achilles' anger as violently as the text does, but that Achilles seems more sympathetic to Priam in the text than in the clip.


Refresher: Achilles, the Epic Hero

5 minutes

Prior to collaborative discussion on the text, I give students a cursory review of Achilles' journey as an epic hero in the Iliad by showing, "Achilles: History in Minutes #9" (4:20) to students again.  This short YouTube video portrays Achilles' life and transformation through text and works of art.  


ILIAD Debriefing: Group Collaboration

38 minutes

I take about five minutes to set up this activity (Assignment: ILIAD Debriefing and Wrap-Up). Students need their reader responses and questions and observations they completed the last two class sessions during independent reading. After students complete the tasks in their small group, each group will present their work on the Elmo document camera.  I reiterate that not only do I want students to gain proficiency in interpreting texts, but I want them to gain proficiency in making presentations for college and career readiness.

I clarify the roles of the group leader, to keep everyone on task, and the group recorder, to write down the group's work. I point out that today each group must choose one presenter, who will make the presentation, but that each group member should be prepared to answer questions from the class and from me. I make this choice for the sake of time during presentations as last go round, we ran out of time, and only three groups were able to present. I think this has more to do with my comfort level and need for control than with multiple students presenting as a group.  

Once I am done explaining the instructions, I survey the class for questions.  Since this class has become accustomed to working in partnerships and small groups, knows one another fairly well, and does not present behavior problems, I let students choose their own groups as a reward.  They tend to work with the same classmates seated nearby as when they can work with a partner or in a group of three. However, I do not allow less than four or more than six in a group (Group Collaboration: ILIAD Debriefing and Wrap-Up). 

While students are working, I notice that they listen intently to each other's questions and responses; help one another to clarify questions, observations, and interpretations; and best of all, ABSOLUTELY REQUIRE their classmates to provide textual evidence to support their interpretations.

I originally alotted 45 minutes for students to complete the task, but they finish early, noting that answering the warm-up questions with a partner at the beginning of class helped them to clarify misunderstandings and fill comprehension gaps prior to collaborative learning. 


ILIAD Wrap-Up: Group Presentations

20 minutes

Due to time limitations, four of the five groups present their work (Student Work: ILIAD Debriefing and Wrap-Up).  Two groups do not specifically identify the stages (Departure, Quest, Return) through which Achilles progresses hero's journey, so we help them to identify them during their presentations. All groups are able to characterize the differences between the clips and the text with proficiency, and explain that the clips shows Achilles change in character from his battle with Hector and his meeting with Priam, giving Hector's body back to Priam as a sign of reconciliation.

Sample themes groups present and substantiate with textual evidence are (1) "We should not let emotions stop us from showing respect, even to our enemies," and (2) Hatred can be overpowered by one's conscience.

I notice several things during the presentations:

  • This time, as opposed to the collaborative work on Beowulf, the students delve deeper into the text and present interpretations with acuity and efficiency.
  • All groups have examples written out with parenthetical citations, not just citations without written examples.
  • I do not have to reteach theme!
  • Students engage in more discussion with the group presenting as opposed to being predominantly silent and letting me do most of talking with the group.
  • I do not have to ask for clarification of ideas as much or prompt students with further questions for elaboration.

The last group will present next class when we will finish our Iliad wrap-up, and then we will review for the unit test, time permitting.