Unit:  What is a Hero? By Minden Hullstrom

 

Prefatory Statement

 

This unit encourages students to not only identify and share their own thoughts and definitions on heroism, but to also challenge their assumptions through the reading of diverse texts, interaction with multimedia resources, and collaboration with peers.  Heroism itself asks students to define qualities in human beings which are worthy and substantial in providing a positive impact on their society.  A unit on this theme explores heroism from many angles, including fictional short stories, real life heroes throughout history, and present day individuals who continue to make a difference in their local communities.  Characters from a variety of gender, race, and socioeconomic differences will be introduced to allow for deeper empathy and critical thinking, as well as to showcase the truly giant spectrum of heroic candidates.  To supplement this focus, texts such as Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” Carol s. Lashof’s Medusa’s Tale, Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer,” and Shel Silverstein’s “True Story” will be integrated. Major projects include composing a fairy tale from a different perspective, interviewing a personal hero, researching on heroes in society, and creating a final project demonstrating a personal definition of heroism.  Students will analyze the reasoning behind certain people being identified as heroes and challenge that reasoning, factoring in the overall subjectivity of defining heroism itself.  Students will also actively investigate the discovery of these heroes and research ways in which people can create positive change in the lives of others – which, in turn can encourage interest and participation of the students themselves in their own communities.  Ultimately, this unit on heroes will tap into prior knowledge, engage empathetic collaboration, and encourage the students to find ways in which they are heroic themselves.

 

Class Specification

 

This unit is designed for students in the twelfth grade, due to more mature content textually.  This also gives students an opportunity to expand their thinking and broaden their ideas of what is means to be a hero beyond the typical superhero models.  Ownership includes personally defining and understanding heroism in others and in themselves, and recognizing the differences real heroes can make even to our local community through their actions.  Multiple texts, research activities, and creative expression opportunities will provide an environment for students to go beyond their prior knowledge and develop a enriched, well-rounded idea of heroism.  This unit will also touch on the interdisciplinary subject areas of interpersonal communication, sociology, psychology, social studies, and environmental economics.

 

Significant Assumptions

 

In creating this unit, I have assumed that:

 

 

Desired Outcomes

 

The Minnesota State Standards of focus in Language Arts are:

 

 

Following unit assessment, students will be able to demonstrate understanding and application of the selected benchmarks by:

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

 

Possible Whole-Class Activities

 

 

Possible Small-Group Activities

 

 

Possible Individual Activities

 

 

Ongoing Activities

 

 

Student Resources

 

                                                                                                       

Unit Launch:  Week One, Day One, 50 Minute Lesson

 

Lesson Topic: Heroes and Villains of Greek Mythology                 Grade level: 12th Grade

Length of lesson: 50 Minutes                                                                                Teacher: Minden Hultstrom

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

-I. Reading and Literature, D. Literature, 12. The student will synthesize ideas and make thematic connections among literary texts, public discourse, media, and other disciplines.

-III. Speaking, Listening, and Viewing, A. Speaking and Listening: The student will demonstrate understanding and communicate effectively through speaking and listening.

Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand:

-Many different ways to define a hero and a villain, through multiple points of view, including that of the heroes, villains, bystanders, and people of justice.

Essential Question(s):

-What makes a hero different from a villain?

-Is it possible to be both a hero and a villain?

-Which behaviors and ideas contribute to defining villains as worse or better than their villainous colleagues?

Student objectives (outcomes):

 

All students will be able to:

-Actively participate in the Character Card Anticipatory Set Activity by both sharing knowledge of their particular character's contribution and also by listening respectfully to the contributions of group members.

-Follow along and listen to their fellow students during the Read Aloud.

-Engage in respectful behavior during large group discussions.

 

Most students will be able to:

-Participate verbally in large group discussions by sharing connections made through the Character Card Anticipatory Set Activity and the Read Aloud of  “Medusa's Tale.”

 

Some students will be able to:

-Volunteer to play a role in the Read Aloud.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

-Hero Final Project

Other Evidence:

-Participation in Character Card Activity.

-Reading along with or reading aloud a role in the script.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

 

Materials and Resources:

-40 copies of one act play “Medusa's Tale” by Carol S. Lashof

-Character cards: 10 Hero, 10 Villain, 10 Bystander, 10 Person of Justice

 

Lesson Plan:

 

2 Minutes – Welcome to Class, Daily Agenda

The teacher will welcome the students and give a brief outline of the Heroes and Villains of Greek Mythology daily theme and agenda (Character Card Anticipatory Set Activity, large group discussions, reading the play aloud), as it corresponds to the Hero Unit.

 

5 Minutes – Character Card Anticipatory Set Activity

Students will be broken down into ten groups of four, moving to sit with one another in small groups.  Students will each receive a character card, identifying their role.  The groups will then create a modern-day situation in which each of them explains their character's input in the situation.  Example given by teacher:  A building is set on fire with families still inside it.  The villain set fire to the building.  The hero goes in to rescue the families.  The bystander is a man from a neighboring building who watches from outside.  The person of justice is the police officer who arrests the villain.  The teacher will walk around the room to answer any questions and also to observe that students are all engaged and participating within their small groups respectfully.  Students will share their scenarios with the class.  The teacher will write down each character's contribution under character divided headings on the front board.  Students will then observe similarities, differences, and character definitions. 

 

10 Minutes – Pre-Discussion

The students will share their Character Card Anticipatory Set Activity discoveries in a large group discussion.  Why do you think the similarities and differences in the roles occur?  What can be said about each of these roles as a general characterization?

 

25 Minutes – Read Aloud “Medusa's Tale” by Carol Lashof

The teacher will hand out copies of the one act script to the students.  The teacher will ask for five student volunteers – two boys and three girls – to read the parts in the play aloud.  The rest of the class will follow along and actively listen. 

 

5 Minutes – Post-Discussion

Students will be asked to revisit their earlier Character Card Activity (scenarios and character qualities will be left written up on the board).  Have some of your previous thoughts now changed after reading the story?  In what ways?  Are the lines between heroes and villains always clear?  How would you define a hero and a villain now? 

 

3 Minutes – Conclusion, Questions, Reminders

The teacher will briefly outline the day's activities as a review.  The teacher will also have upcoming assignments written on the board and give a verbal reminder of their due dates.  Lastly, the teacher will be available for questions.

 

Organization of Unit

 

Week 1

 

Quote of the week:  “Life is not simple, and people can’t be boxed into being either heroes or villains.” –Jessica Hagedorn. 

 

A quote will be posted on the board for the students each week.  It will be the starting point for students to begin thinking more about the roles of heroes and villains and how they interact with one another.  Students will be given time daily to compose a written reflection in their writing log, which can consist of bulleted lists, non-fiction, creative stories, poems, and drawings as reflection and response to a posed question.  At least 30 minutes every Friday will be reserved for silent reading and writing only.  Students may work on outside reading, class reading, or personal writing projects.  This will also be a time for the teacher to role model as a reader, as well as have check-ins with each student individually.

 

This week, students will read “True Story” by Shel Silverstein, analyzing the comedy and irony of a stereotypical hero. They will also read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, presenting the question of equality and heroism, as depicted from different viewpoints.  Is the protection of equality heroic?  Who is the hero in this story?  Finally, the students will read excerpts from the graphic novel Watchmen, identifying comic book super heroes and relating those qualities to what we look for in real life heroes.   The students will create and take a fun quiz identifying what kind of hero they would be in today’s society. 

 

Assignments: 

 

Week 2

 

Quote of the week:  “The real hero is always a hero by mistake.  He dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.” –Umberto Eco.

 

This week, students will read fairy tale stories from Politically Correct Bedtime Stories in small groups, showcasing a story told from an entirely neutral position.  As a class, we will watch the film Unbreakable, focusing on the fine line between heroes and villains.  In addition, we will visit the website www.myhero.com to access stories about heroes from all over the world.

 

Assignments:  

 

Week 3

 

Quote of the week:  “A hero cannot be a hero unless in a heroic world.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Using Lit Circles and corresponding role worksheets, students will read Necessary Targets over the course of three days and discuss the role of heroes as examined through the eyes of people from different cultures.  How did the role of a hero change?  What stereotypes, behaviors, and expectations did the characters have about being heroic?  Students will also research real life heroes in news articles, as well encouraged to bring in articles to share and post in class.  We will analyze and discuss the view of heroes and how propaganda plays a role in the presentation of heroes in the media.  How are heroes depicted in the media?  Who benefits from this?  What does their use in propaganda reflect our society’s view of heroism?  Students will also read “The War Prayer.”  How did the opposite reading of the prayer make you feel?  In what ways were the people praying depicted as heroes and villains respectively?

 

Unit Lesson:  Week 3

Lesson Topic: “The War Prayer”                                                           Grade level: 12th Grade

Length of lesson: 50 Minutes                                                                                Teacher: Minden Hultstrom

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

-I. Reading and Literature, D. Literature, 12. The student will synthesize ideas and make thematic connections among literary texts, public discourse, media, and other disciplines.

-III. Speaking and Listening, A. Speaking and Listening:  The student will demonstrate understanding and communicate effectively through speaking and listening.

Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand:

-the conflicting views of heroism and hope in relation to war.

Essential Question(s):

-Who is the hero?

-Is it possible to hope heroically for your own country without becoming a villain to others?

-What about war is heroic?  What about peace is heroic?

Student objectives (outcomes):

 

All students will be able to:

-Actively participate in small group discussions, using prior knowledge of their understanding and definitions of heroes and war, as well as by listening respectfully to the contributions of group members.

-Follow along and listen during the read aloud.

-Engage in respectful behavior during large group discussions.

-Compose an entry in their writing logs.

 

Most students will be able to:

-Participate verbally in large group discussions by sharing connections made through the prior knowledge, “Imagine,” and “The War Prayer.”

 

Some students will be able to:

-Make new connections and definition of the relationship of war and heroes using both prior knowledge and literature from the daily lesson in their writing logs.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

-Final Hero Project

Other Evidence:

-Observation of student participation in small and large group discussions

-Writing log entries

-Created T-Charts

-Respectful speaking and listening

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

 

Materials and Resources:

-40 copies of “The War Prayer” by Mark Twin

-song “Imagine” by John Lennon

-song “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” by Paper Lace

-40 copies “Imagine” song lyrics

-40 copies of “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” lyrics

-music player

-paper and writing utensil for t-charts

-writing logs

 

Lesson Plan:

 

2 Minutes – Welcome to Class, Daily Agenda

The teacher will welcome the students and give a brief outline of “The War Prayer” daily theme and agenda, as it corresponds to the Hero Unit.

 

10 Minutes – “Imagine” by John Lennon

Students will listen quietly to the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, while following along with the lyrics.  Once the song has ended, students will be asked to pick out words and phrases that had the most resonance with them.  In small groups, students will share their favorite passages.  Students will then be asked to analyze the poem for heroic definitions.  What is this poem saying about what defines a hero?  What would it take for the world to live in peace, without war?  Is peace itself heroic?  What is peace? Students will share their answers with the class as a whole. 

 

5 Minutes – “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain

The teacher will read aloud “The War Prayer,” as students follow along silently. 

 

15 Minutes – T-Chart and Discussion on “The War Prayer”

Students will meet again in their small groups to discuss the text.  What were the differing ideas expressed in the text?  Who was the hero in this story?  How did this story’s view on war and peace differ from the song’s idea?  Students will then make a T-Chart of the story, writing the themes of prayer from the congregation on one side and the corresponding argument of the stranger on the other.  What does this story say about war and heroism?  How does the ending of the story use irony to further complicate the understanding of the differing perspectives?  The teacher will observe that the students are on task by walking around the room and being available for any questions.  Students will share their small group ideas with the class.

 

5 Minutes – “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” by Paper Lace

Students will listen quietly to the song “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” by Paper Lace, while following along with the lyrics.  Once the song has ended, students will be asked to consider how this song depicts heroes.  Was Billy heroic?  How did his involvement in the war make or not make him a hero to his country?  His fiancé?  Students will share their answers with the class as a whole.

 

10 Minutes – Writing Log

Students will have time to compose a written reflection to the activities of the day in their writing logs, considering the question:  What can we understand from the sources presented today and our own prior knowledge about the relationship of war and heroism?

 

3 Minutes – Conclusion, Questions, Reminders

The teacher will briefly outline the day's activities as a review.  The teacher will also have upcoming assignments written on the board and give a verbal reminder of their due dates.  Lastly, the teacher will be available for questions.

 

Assignments: 

 

Final Assessment for Unit

 

The total grade for the unit will be determined by the following breakdown (65 points total):

 

 

Grading scale:

 

 

Resources: