In the days leading up to today’s class the students have prepared to take part in reading groups in a variety of ways. We have read about the creation of the world according to the ancient Greeks and how the Olympian gods came to power, examined myths to determine their common characteristics, and worked together to apply this knowledge.
Now students are going to continue this work with greater independence by working in small groups to read and analyze four myths. If I have learned anything about group work, it’s that it will not succeed with forethought and organization. Tips on managing it all are available here:
You can hear a pin drop for the greater portion of today’s class. The students understand the expectations having become familiar with the reading plan the day before. Each student engages in silent reading of the first myth that their group chose and recorded on their schedule. As they finish reading, students move to the bins and retrieve the materials needed to answer a set of comprehension questions and to fill in the common characteristics chart. An answer key for the comprehension questions appears here.
While they are at work, I circulate among the groups to answer questions and provide support. Then I join a few students who I suspect may have a problem with comprehension. One challenging aspect of myths is the large cast of characters. For this we refer to the chart at the front of Myths and Legends From Ancient Greece and Around the World (Prentice Hall, 2000). We decide to write a description of any creatures or characters that do not appear on the list in the book on a large piece of chart paper that anyone can add to throughout the unit. Another issue that pops up is unfamiliar vocabulary. For this I make sure there are dictionaries available (both hard copies and digital) and that we spend time reviewing how to use context clues.
Every student appreciates being an accepted member of a group, but this does not always occur naturally. One way to build that sense of unity is to allow each group to create an identity. For this project the students come up with group names related to Greek mythology, design a small sign with their logo and then pose for a picture. These photos are printed and posted for all to see. The projects each group creates can be displayed along with the photograph.