Introduction for Course Literature: Hero's Journey and Archetypes, Day 2 of 2

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SWBAT demonstrate understanding of the hero's journey and archetypes through writing and discussion.

Big Idea

Life is a struggle and requires courage.

Lesson Overview and Note to Teachers

I explore the hero's journey with my students throughout the year by exploring works from Beowulf to Macbeth.  

My classes are held in 100 minute block sessions.  The activities in this introduction for course literature take the better part of two class periods to complete.  We explore the journey of the hero through "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" (History Channel, 2007) and a supporting activity shared with me by Richard Borish, NBCT.

These activities provide (1) a review of archetypes in Classical literature and the hero's journey, and (2) activate students' prior learning and background knowledge as a springboard to course content.

 The lesson below outlines activities for day two of the activities. 

"STAR WARS: The Legacy Revealed" Continued

30 minutes

My classes are held in 100-minute block sessions. This lesson continues activities from last class so that we may finish the program today:

I explain to students that the hero's journey and archetypes are presented in "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" program (History Channel, 2007). I tell students that George Lucas utilized various archetypes and allusions to Classic literature when writing Star Wars. I distribute the study guide and explain to students that as we watch the program, they are to complete corresponding questions on the study guide (Study Guide: "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed"). As we watch the program, students fill in answers to the questions; we stop periodically so that students can compare answers (Answer Key: "STAR WARS: The Legacy Revealed" Study Guide) and check their work. 

I realize that as we stop periodically for students to compare answers, the activity prompts discussion about how Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker proceed through the hero's journey. We eventually address how Anakin becomes Luke's foil as Darth Vader:

  • Anakin chooses NOT to follow his mentors' tutelage and be patient to become a Jedi.
  • Instead, Anakin follows the Emperor to the Dark Side, becoming Darth Vader by allowing his anger to consume him.  
  • On the contrary, Luke remains obedient to his mentors and fulfills his father's destiny by becoming a Jedi.
  • As a result, Luke saves his father Anakin, who transforms from Darth Vader back to his true self by defying the Emperor, saving Luke's life, and attaining spiritual growth in death.


When I began using this program last class, I thought I was a failure as a teacher for not analyzing the hero's journey FOR the students as we viewed the program. Now, I realize that by (1) allowing students to draw on prior knowledge reviewed in the program, which explains Lucas' allusions to Classic works of literature students read in earlier grades, and (2) giving them time to process the information presented, I succeeded as a teacher because the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the links between prior knowledge and new knowledge were performed by STUDENTS, not by me!

Debriefing: Hero's Journey

30 minutes

Since we are only 30 minutes into our class meeting and I need to check student comprehension from last class and today, I have students complete an admit slip, writing a five to seven sentence paragraph in response to the question, "What do you know about the hero's journey based upon "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" and our class discussion?".  I have students walk around the class and exchange papers (Student Work: Admit Slip on Hero's Journey) with at least five classmates. They must read one another's papers for content.

As a culminating activity, I post student responses to my bulletin board and have students do a gallery walk, reading all of their classmates' responses and mentally noting three things the class' responses have in common. In an all-class debriefing, we note similarities or common threads in the admit slips (mentors; the hero overcoming great obstacles; and the hero's challenge deciding the fate of a nation or people) as a way to review student knowledge of the hero's journey.

I use this to reinforce content then stop for a lesson checkpoint of student understanding with a Learning Scale (Learning Scale: Use for Lesson Checkpoint). This allows me to check for student understanding of the content and monitor to see if reteaching is necessary. Since all students indicate proficiency, I am confident about introducing our first unit.