To begin the lesson I ask the class to get out their white boards and markers. I set two minutes on a timer and tell the class that when I say go they will write down everything they know about ancient mythology. I say go and they begin to write.
When the timer goes off, I ask them to put their markers down and I divide my large white board in half by drawing a line down the middle of it. I then explain that they will now pass the marker between themselves. Each side of the room is trying to fill the space on their side of the white board with their prior knowledge. The first rule, is that you can only share one idea at a time. The second rule, is that everyone must have one turn before getting a second turn. Finally, nothing can be written twice and there can be no talking.
I hand a marker to one student from each side of the room and let them begin adding their prior knowledge of greek myths to the board.
For the next part of the lesson student need to have a brief overview of some myths. I start by asking them to label their white board one to twelve. Each number will correlate to one of the Olympians, which were the original 12 Greek gods and goddesses. There is also a very cool book that students can build that is found in the Evan Moor Ancient Greece unit. This is where I got the idea for the white board activity.
I explain that they will be learning about a god or goddess. For each one they will have to determine a symbol for that will help them remember something unique about each one. I will read a myth to them so that they understand a little about each one. To start, number one will be Zeus. I have them write his name for number one and then I read a myth that is about him. I then ask students to discuss what symbol might help us remember him. For most of the class they decide on a lightning bolt. We do the same thing for all twelve of the Olympians.
After reading each myth we have a brief discussion. We discuss what the myth might be explaining that they couldn't explain back then. For example, earthquakes. We also discuss briefly the plot and character traits that we discover in each story. This gives them a framework for how myths are told.
They now have a very solid framework for how Greek myths are told and the reasons why behind them. In the Evan Moor Ancient Greece book they have template for writing your own Greek myth. I thought that this would be a very fun way to end the unit on Greece with some creative writing. I encourage students to use what they have learned throughout the unit to write their myth. I do ask them to follow the pattern of having an issue that needs explaining and to at least choose two gods or goddesses as their main characters.