Digitally Telling the Story of Greek Figures
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Students will become engaged learners through this unit that prepares students for studying ancient Greece with digital storytelling skills. First students develop a list of questions to research Greek gods, heroes, and creatures. Then with a partner, they choose the topic of their research and divide the questions between themselves. After conducting research, the partners write scripts for their digital story using the online tool PowToon.
From Theory to Practice
Labbo and Place state that for technology to be successfully integrated into the curriculum, the technology must be “a good fit,” which they describe as a situation in which “the learning connections are clear and the selected activities add to the motivation and opportunities for students to gain knowledge not typically encountered in textbooks. The fit is also good when students have occasions for gaining new literacy skills and strategies.” This project matches that description.
First, students see a connection between learning research skills typically taught in language arts classes to using the information they find in social studies classes. Secondly, the typical social studies textbooks do not go into depth about Greek gods, so the students are increasing their understanding of the topic. Additionally, students are learning new technology skills through the use of an online tool. Students are motivated to show what they have discovered in the research process, and this free software provides a platform for that to happen.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
School library or interlibrary loaned books on Greek gods
- Classroom with whiteboard, speakers, and LCD projector
- Computers with Internet access, microphones, and headphones
- Index cards
- Sandwich baggies or rubber bands
This is a subscription database that contains the Lincoln Library of Greek and Roman Mythology, which is an excellent resource available in print, too. The reading level is appropriate for middle schoolers and students are allowed to use the images in their homework assignments.
This website is a good place for students to start their research as the articles are short and very basic; however, not all Greek figures on the printout are at this site.
This website is a great resource for folklore, mythology, and religion from around the world. Furthermore, it shows how to cite the articles.
This website can make creating a Works Cited page an easy task.
This is an alternative free software for using without e-mail addresses This program would need to be installed on computers to produce digital stories.
This website has a good introductory page to the topic of Greek gods. Students can easily search the site for more about their Greek mythological characters.
This free online tool will be where students to create their own digital stories. It does require e-mail addresses for signing up.
This website can make creating a Works Cited page an easy task.
- This lesson is intended for classrooms in which an LCD projector and speakers are available so that the final project can be shared. If the classroom does not have an LCD projector available, reserve a projector for the last two days of the project so that the final products can be shared.
- Check with the school librarian for print materials and databases on Greek gods, heroes, and creatures.
- Reserve time in your school computer lab for five class sessions. If you are not using PowToon, Microsoft Photo Story 3 will need to be downloaded. Check that microphones and headsets will be available for recording the digital story. Check that the tool you have selected for creating the digital stories works with the computers and familiarize yourself with that tool.
- If possible, sign up for a free class wiki at Wikispaces or a free class website at Google Sites or Wix. Post the research links and the link to PowToon on the wiki or website. If this is not possible, plan on telling the students the links.
- If this is the first research project for the class, instruction is needed for citing sources. This can be accomplished using the mini-lesson Research Building Blocks: “Cite Those Sources.” Furthermore, if this is the students’ first project citing sources, then using Exploring, Plagiarism, Copyright, and Paraphrasing prior to this project would be beneficial.
- You can either print one copy per student of the printout Greek Figures, or you can project this printout as students are selecting their Greek mythological character.
- If students have not completed many research projects, print one copy per student of Taking Notes for a Research Project to help as they work on their projects.
- To help students plan for their digital stories, each pair will need ten copies of the Storyboard printout.
- If students will be using Microsoft Photo Story, print one copy for every two students of Microsoft Photo Story Instructions.
- Print one copy per student of the Digital Story Rubric and of the T-Chart Printout.
- collect and analyze information relevant to their research of a Greek god, hero, or creature.
- demonstrate comprehension of what they have learned by writing a script.
- organize, summarize, and synthesize what they have learned through the production of a digital story.
- cite their sources in the form of a bibliography.
Session One: Introducing the Project
- Ask students to name Greek gods, heroes, and creatures. Write student responses on the board or project to the whiteboard.
- Next ask students to brainstorm why people still know these names today. Have them create a list of where they have seen some names of these gods, heroes, and creatures in present day. Discuss what this tells about the importance of these figures.
- Pass out the Greek Figures printout or project the list on the whiteboard. Put the students in pairs to brainstorm what type of information would be important to know about characters of Greek mythology and how this information could be categorized.
- Have students share their responses and project them to the white board. Also, ask students to write this list. Save this list to the computer in case students lose their individual lists. Be sure these topics are mentioned:
- Meaning of name
- Family members and their descriptions
- Modern references in television, language, art, cartoons, movies, song lyrics, and so forth
- Famous myths
- Friends and descriptions
- Enemies with descriptions
- Divide the class into partners to choose which characters Greek mythology they will research, and have the partners decide how they will split the categories of information for each to find. Tell the class that each partner will research famous myths of their character and well as at least three other topics. Have each student write down the categories and Greek character he/she is responsible for on an index card. Collect the index cards.
- Tell students that in the next session they will begin their research.
Sessions Two and Three: Researching
- Before beginning research, have a short discussion about how to conduct research by covering the following topics:
- Ask students why it is important to take notes when doing research.
- Remember what you have read for use later.
- Why we write in short phrases.
- Ask students to define plagiarism and explain why it is wrong. An excellent discussion of plagiarism is available online in the Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct. Ask them if they are plagiarizing if they
- copy and paste a chart online to use in their assignments.
- use a quotation without saying who said it.
- rewrite a passage from their social studies book
- Ask students why it is important to take notes when doing research.
- If students have not done much research prior to this lesson, hand out the print out Taking Notes for Research and read through it together. Remind students they need to cite their sources as well.
- Hand out the index cards collected in the last session that lists what each student will research. Also, give students additional index cards to take their notes. Invite students to use the research websites as well as print materials that the school librarian has provided.
- As students research, circulate throughout the classroom helping students to cite their sources and find information. Check that students are using short phrases rather than copying entire passages on their index cards. Check that their source cards are correctly completed. Also, since both students are to research famous myths, remind students to check with their partners that they are both not researching the same myth.
- At the end of the Session Two, hand out plastic baggies for students to keep their cards organized.
- At the end of the Session Three, inform students that in the next session they will be writing their script for their digital story. Therefore, their research must be complete before Session Four. Assign them to complete their research before the next session.
Session Four: Citing Sources
- First check that all students have completed researching their three topics and famous myths. Allow additional time for those who still need to complete this task.
- Discuss again with students why resources must be cited as a reminder of Session Two.
- Model for students how to create a citation from the information on their cards. Show the students how to create a citation for a book and for a website. Move this information on to a bibliography.
- Have students take their source cards out from their baggies. Allow students time to create their own citations and bibliographies.
- To help students learning how to cite information for the first time, you might want to have the students use the one of the two bibliography generating websites, EasyBib or BibMe.
Session Five: Writing the Script
- Hand out the Digital Story Rubric with the students and discuss so they will know what is expected in their final product.
- Ask the students to discuss how authors make the beginnings of books interesting and to discuss why it is important for an author to have a great beginning to a book. Relate this to their introduction for their digital story.
- Ask the students to discuss what makes a good ending to a story. Relate this to their conclusion for their digital story.
- Have the students meet in partners to decide who will write the introduction for their story and who will write the conclusion. Explain that the introduction and conclusion will be two slides of their digital story.
- Hand out to each pair of ten storyboards, one for each slide. Instruct students to write their scripts on these storyboards which they will read and record. Tell the students the eight categories they have researched now become the remaining eight slides and to now write the short phrases on their note cards into complete sentences.
Session Six: Finding Images
- Select a short picture book to read to the students. Choose one that has colorful pictures that go well with the text, such as Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas. Read several pages but do not finish the book. Have students discuss how the pictures support the story and add to the story. Read more of the story without showing the students the illustrations. Have the students suggest what pictures they would use to complement the story.
- Explain to the students that their scripts and pictures will need the same partnership as a book and its illustrations. Have students review their scripts and list possible pictures they could search for online that will complement their script.
- Assign each pair of students to one computer that has Internet capabilities.
- Instruct the students on how to save ten photos from the Internet to their computers.
Sessions Seven and Eight: Creating the Digital Story
- Check that each pair has successfully found and saved ten images to their computers. Allow additional time if some need to still finish this task.
- Model the steps of creating a digital story using PowToon or Microsoft Photo Story. If applicable, give the students the printout Photo Story Instructions and follow these instructions to model how to make the digital story.
- Allow time for students to work on creating their digital stories. Circulate around the classroom, helping students who are having difficulties. Remind students to choose appropriate background music and to be sure that their voices are heard over the background music.
- At the end of each session, remind students that if PowToon is their selected tool, they can work on this project from any Internet-connected computer. Tell students that their digital stories will be shared in Session Nine, so they need to be complete before that session.
Session Nine: Sharing the Digital Stories
- Play each pair’s digital story. After each story, ask students to share something they learned from the presentation and to ask additional questions
- When all digital stories have been shown, ask students to use the T-Chart Printout to explain what they liked and disliked about this project. Have the students list the topics as “Like” and “Dislike.”
- Co-teach this lesson between social studies and language arts classes. Have the students learn the research techniques and complete the note cards in the language arts class. Then have them produce the digital story in the social studies class or with the help of a library media specialist.
- Have students share their digital stories with a younger class at school.
- Post the stories on a class wiki or website so that families can watch the digital stories at home.
- Once students have presented their stories to the class, have students play Mythology Hangman to see what they learned from each other’s presentations.
- After students have shared their digital stories, they have great background knowledge for reading The Lighting Thief or The Lost Hero, both by Rick Riordan.
Student Assessment / Reflections
Possible student assessment include