A Gaggle of Google dockers: Writing the Problem-Solution Paragraph and Identifying Epithets and Epic Similes

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SWBAT explain the problems and solutions in the Odyssey by developing a coherent paragraph; SWBAT evaluate the effect of the epithets in The Odyssey by writing an explanatory paragraph

Big Idea

Students work in groups using the technology of "Google docking" for collaborative writing and note-taking

Do Now: Mad Libs

15 minutes

For the "Do Now" I will ask my students to complete a list that will ask for different parts of speech and body parts. This is a Mad Lib activity, so my students will be unaware of the topic of the paragraph that these words will help create. My students don't know it yet, but this Mad Lib will become a problem solution paragraph (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3) about snoring once it is all filled in.  I am unable to post the Mad Lib due to copyright, but you can create your own by taking words out of a problem-solution paragraph and listing the parts of speech or type of word on a separate sheet to be filled in by your students.You can find a sample problem solution paragraph here.

The reason I am having them complete this Mad Lib is because my students will see the structure of a problem-solution paragraph, and they will get to practice using vivid language choices by using the correct forms of words (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3). Depending on how long this activity takes, I may ask a few students to share their Mad Libs. The key take-away from this activity is that words are used purposefully in writing and different verbs, nouns, and adjectives can completely change the tone and meaning of a text.

Book 10 Quiz

15 minutes

For this quiz, I combined items from the McDougal Littell formal assessment teacher resource book and the McDougall Littell Unit 6 resource book quiz. I chose these items because the formal assessment items are multiple choice items that resemble the types of items that students might encounter on a standardized text. The McDougal Littell Unit 6 resource book quiz includes short responses that I am hoping will tell me whether students have understood the events in Book 10. If you do not have access to these materials, you will find a similar quiz

If I can scan the results quickly after they take the assessment, I will know whether my students comprehend (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10) and are prepared to write about Book 10 later in the lesson.

Application: Writing the Problem-Solution Paragraph from notes

35 minutes

For this brief "building knowledge" section of the lesson, I will ask my students to refer to pg. 6  of the Odyssey packet, developed by Jim Burke.  Page 6 includes sentence starters. I am choosing to have my students write the problem-solution paragraph (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3.a) today because we have collected many problems and solutions during the previous lesson, and I want to see how well my students can put together a cohesive logical paragraph using their chart (pg. 4-5 of the Odyssey packet). I am having my students write these paragraphs together because this writing task is different from any that we have completed this year. I also think working together will allow them to co-write a more logical and cohesive paragraph because they will have many eyes on the paragraph, constantly re-reading and editing as they go (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5) and using technology to do so (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6).

In order to write this paragraph, I have created a Google doc for each group of students, and they will need to collaborate with the members of their group to put the paragraph together. Each member of the group will have access to the document, and students will need to decide whether one or two people will type at once. For example, one person could type the first half of the paragraph, and another person in the group could type the second half of the paragraph. The Google doc has a chart for epithets and epic similes (which we will address later in the lesson), so groups will be asked to scroll down to the bottom of the document to begin typing the problem solution paragraph. Check out the "Googledockers" in action in this clip.

Building Knowledge: Epithets and Epic Similes

12 minutes

Now that we have tackled the problem-solution paragraphs with collaborative groups, we will transition to a reading activity, analyzing the author's use of epithets (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4). This reading activity will also require a bit of writing at the end of the lesson. We are moving on to this part of the lesson now because the problem-solution paragraph was an assessment of students' understanding of Book 9. Now that we have read (and taken a quiz on) Book 10, which tells the story of Odysseus' encounter with Circe, we can begin to analyze the effect of the epithets and epic similes in this part of the text.

For this section of the lesson, I will model several examples of epithets:

  • King of Pop-Michael Jackson
  • King of Rock and Roll-Elvis
  • Giver of Life-mother
  • Keeper of Knowledge-teacher


I will tell my students that epithets are one way of characterizing a character. In the epic poem, The Odyssey, Odysseus and Circe is characterized by many epithets. I will ask my students to find at least 4 examples of epithets for Odysseus and 2 examples for Circe. I am asking my students to find these examples because they will be used in a constructed response (short essay) during the next lesson in which they will have to analyze the meaning and effect of these epithets (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4).

After I have given my students about 8 minutes to find the epithets, I will explain to them that epic similes are extended similes. I will tell them that there is at least one epic simile in book 10 that compares Odysseus' men to some other creature(s). In order to complete the last part of this lesson, my students will need to find the epic simile and note the line numbers in the text. Here's a link to a sample of the collaborative work (including the problem solution paragraph below the chart) of one group. They still need work on finding the correct example of the epic simile.


5 minutes

I will close out this lesson by having my students go back and read over all of their responses on the Google doc. I will suggest that half of the group proofreads the epithets and epic similes section and the other half of the group will proofread the paragraph. I am closing out the lesson this way because I want students to have an opportunity to make any necessary edits or revisions to their shared writing products ( CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6) prior to my grading the assignment. Also, my students will need to use the information on epithets to write about the effect of them during the next lesson.

Lesson Image Attribution

By Valentyna Sagan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons