As Hannibal of The A Team says, “I love it when a plan comes together!”
We just wrapped up a literature unit on Greek mythology, but the students are sad to say goodbye to this favorite genre. Yet I know that it’s time that they get some more experience writing arguments. Well, since it is the month of March…Why not mix it up, keep everyone happy, and create a little of our own March Madness?
The series of lessons described in the Myth Madness Guidelines document will keep us busy for about ten days. During this time we will apply research skills, draft arguments that incorporate persuasive writing elements, and create final copies that demonstrate focus, organization and supporting details. The students are engaged by the topic and excited by the competitive nature of the assignment. After reviewing the guidelines, we take a look at the bracket. Of course, they wonder why Zeus, Poseidon and few of other more popular gods are not included, but they quickly come to the conclusion that it is because fate would have weighed too heavily in their favor. The contest to determine the most powerful god begins with these opponents:
The winner of each round remains in the competition to the next round, and so on until the winner stands alone.
We start in what may seem like a backwards fashion by looking at a finished copy of paragraph. I want the students to have a clear idea of what good writing looks like and then analyze what it takes to produce a product like this one. It is about two gods that are not matched up in the first round, Hermes and Apollo, and makes a strong case in Hermes favor. We examine the parts of the paragraph and color code them in a way that matches the guidelines. From this point we make a list of the facts that are stated for each god and from that it is easy to see what the writer discovered during the research process. Now the students are ready are to become researchers themselves.
To be sure that everyone understands the process we start with some guided practice. The first step is to research Apollo and Hephaestus using the sources provided and add those facts to the graphic organizer. Of course, the students are ready to jump right in with predictions. This provides the perfect opportunity to discuss why the research must be based on facts and not opinion, which means we need to go into the research phase with an open mind and that facts need to be backed up with solid explanations. Additional thoughts on research process and the graphic organizers used for this purpose appears here: