Yesterday, students were introduced to our new unit of study: Myth Madness. Basically, it is a contest among eight Olympian gods and goddesses to determine who is the strongest using a bracket system similar to the one often seen during basketball season for March Madness. In this contest, students research two gods/goddesses at a time and evaluate the information to determine which is the strongest. The final decision should not just be based on physical strength. Other factors to consider include intelligence, character traits, relationships with other gods and mankind, etc. To accomplish this they gather facts from a set of sources and fill in a graphic organizer.
Today the students arrive to class having completed the research on the first set of gods: Apollo vs Hephaestus. Using chart paper, we discuss them one at a time and add notes about each ones strengths and weaknesses on a T-chart. Sometimes this is tricky because certain attributes can be seen as either a strength or weakness depending on perspective: Hephaestus was married to the beautiful goddess Aphrodite, but their marriage was an unhappy one because she continually betrayed him. Students enjoy expressing their thoughts on what to add to the chart and from this experience will be more successful as they work with greater independence. Two examples of student notes appear here and here. As you will see, one shows greater detail than the other. Some thoughts on that appear here:
Having filled in the strengths and weaknesses charts, it is now time to begin the writing process by making a plan using this Argument Map as a graphic organizer. It is found in Common Core Literacy Lesson Plans, Ready-to-Use Resources, 6-8 by Lauren Davis (Eye on Education, 2013).
We also refer back to the Myth Madness Guidelines as a reminder of what to include in this paragraph. It is at this time that students state their choice of Apollo or Hephaestus as the stronger god in the section titled “Introduce Your Claim” and provide some background, such as who his parents are and what he is the god of. Then they review their research notes and number the top three reasons for this deciding on this god in the column titled “Order” on that document. These reasons are added to the Argument Map and each must be supported by an explanation in the Evidence column. To generate ideas, students consider the questions: What does it look like? and Why is it important? A completed worksheet appears here.
Of course, everyone is interested in finding out who received the most votes as winner for this class. So to end this lesson, students add a check mark to the strengths/weaknesses chart for either Apollo or Hephaestus. And the winner is…