Today we are analyzing whether or not Katniss is a hero. We're ignoring the literary hero's journey element, and just focusing on whether or not Katniss has the qualities of a hero. In order to do that, we first have to define what a hero is. To help students generate ideas, I asked them to write a quickwrite that identified what they thought were the qualities of a hero. What do heroes do? say? think? affect others?
I stole, I mean borrowed, this activity from Cheryl Mango-Paget, Jane Gaun, and Leslie Grabel, the leaders of a Common Core Phase II class I took a couple of years ago.
I gave students a list of ten scenarios that are based on real events. Real people, real situations, real tragedies. They read through the list of scenarios and ranked them from the most heroic (1) to least heroic (10). There was lots of quiet, mutterings, underlining, and crossing things out. It was the shortest ten minutes students used to think EVER.
Then I asked students to have a discussion with three or four of their peers. I asked them to share the scenarios they ranked as most heroic and least heroic and explain why.
This was an excruciating task. I've done this ranking twice now, and each time, the inner moral dialogue I have with myself is heartbreaking, enlightening, and depressing. Take the time to do the ranking yourself. Certainly don't share your insights before students have had a chance, but do this activity.
After students shared in their small groups, we came together as a class and shared out. Each group shared which scenarios were most and least heroic and explained their reasoning.
As students discussed the scenarios and explained why a scenario was heroic or not, I recorded the qualities of a hero on the board. To prepare for the next day, I compiled all the classes' responses in a color-coded list so that students could compare responses.