Myths Groups, Test Preparation

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SWBAT demonstrate in writing comprehension of Greek mythology by identifying the characteristics that commonly appear in myths. Students include direct evidence from the text to support claims.

Big Idea

What happens when grief causes Demeter, goddess of the harvest, to lose interest in her duties?


10 minutes

As we move towards the end of this unit of study, it is time to prepare for an assessment. Early in the unit we identified eight common characteristics of mythology:

  • teach a lesson/ explain a natural phenomena
  • contain many gods and goddesses
  • gods and goddesses possess superhuman qualities
  • gods and goddesses have human emotions
  • contain magic
  • gods and goddesses often appear in disguises
  • good is rewarded/ evil is punished
  • contain violence

The students have had practice identifying these characteristics in the myths they read. To start today’s class they add them to the first column of this worksheet – the order does not matter. This formative assessment provides the students and me with feedback on their mastery of this content.

Analyze: Demeter & Persephone

40 minutes

Next we spend time reading and analyzing the myth “Demeter and Persephone” from Comprehension Homework Packets (Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2007).

First we read the directions on the common characteristics worksheet so that the students are clear about the requirements for this assignment. Then we read the myth through from start to finish before beginning our analysis. This is always good practice no matter what the assignment. I ask the students to keep the common characteristics in mind but not to get distracted from the story. We will take time to go back over it together.

To facilitate our discussion, we number the paragraphs. As soon as we finish, instantly hands go up and we are off the races! They have many suggestions, but I focus on identifying the gods and goddesses that appear in the myth first because it gives us a quick and easy way to summarize the plot. Using their suggestions, I demonstrate how to select quotes and remind them that using only ‘pieces’ of a sentence may be enough to illustrate a point. As we move from one characteristic to the next, I let them know that we should not use the same quote more than once. Questions and disagreements arise during the discussion. What is the difference between magic and a superhuman quality? When Hades bursts out of the ground on a chariot, which one is that? How about Demeter’s ability to control plant life?

Well, to tell the truth, sometimes I am not totally sure how to make this differentiation myself! I give the students some leeway with their answers as long as they provide a plausible explanation and do not repeat the same plot event in more than one category. A copy of the work we did in class appears here and two examples of student work appear here and here.

Wrap Up: What You Need to Know

10 minutes

Before sending them off, we review how to prepare for the test: