Today we spend time at the beginning of class reading the myth of Pandora in D’Aularies’ Book of Greek Myths (Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc., 1962) on pages 74-77. It contains some facets of mythology that the students are struggling with.
For the most part, they comprehend the plot of the stories they are reading and are keeping track of the many characters that inhabit myths – gods, goddesses, humans, and creatures (both real and imagined). The difficulty is extending that understanding and capturing the deeper aspects of myths like the explanation of natural events and basic aspects of creation and existence. Reading the story of Pandora gives us the opportunity to practice comprehension skills as we find evidence of how misery and evil appeared in the world. The students explore the idea of living in world without such things as lies, envy and gossip. This version also contains a flood story that many of the students are unfamiliar with so that too generates a great deal of discussion.
According to our reading plan, this is a day for small groups to meet and discuss the second myth on their list. In order to take part, students must come to class having read the myth, answered a set of comprehension questions and with a chart that notes evidence of the common characteristics of myths. An answer key for the comprehension questions appears here, sample of student work for the questions for the Perseus myth appear here, and for the Trojan War myth appear here. In addition, a sample of a Common Characteristics of Myths worksheet appears here. Some thoughts on the student progress appears here:
Working in small groups gives the students a chance to review what they read with others by explaining their findings, asking questions, and talking out any differences that arise. In putting the groups together, I consider ability, personality and behavior. So far, it is working out so that everyone stays on task and is supportive of one another. Partly this occurs because of what happens next…
Every group is excited to work on projects that demonstrate understanding of the myths. Some graphic organizers appear here. The students enjoy having a choice and the opportunity to show some creativity. In addition, they get to work on teamwork skills, which is not always easy. Negotiating a project, choosing materials, and assigning jobs is just part of the process. Being a productive participant and actually getting your work done on time are two challenges that some students struggle with, fortunately there are always those who are ready and willing to be managers! Most groups have four students and sometimes they ask to work in partners. I usually approve these requests as long as everyone agrees. A few examples of projects include a photo of students making a film, a sequencing chart for Chariot of the Sun Gods, and one for the character traits of Orpheus.