- Four Types of Writing Activities According to Judy & Judy
- Writing For Self
- Writing For Others
- Friendship Essay
- Writing To Explore Social Issues, Problems &Values
- Lotus Eaters Writing Exercise
- Writing Based on Investigation and Research
- Creative Projects
- Three Types of Writing According to Zemelman
- Day by Day Syllabus
- Peer Review and Self Evaluation
- Grading System
This unit is designed to be used with the epic poem The Odyssey written by Homer. It is formulated for use in any heterogeneously grouped ninth grade English class.
The Odyssey is required reading in most ninth grade English classes. While I have taught The Odyssey before, this unit is significantly revised in the sense that it has been reorganized to emphasize writing exercises. In particular, it has been organized around Judy & Judy's four categories of writing activities. Each of these four types of writing are included in this unit. The writing exercises are both creative and non-fiction pieces of writing and follow the steps in the writing process. RAMPS is another writing technique that is used with each exercise. Also utilized in this unit are self-editing and peer-editing review sheets.
This unit could be used at any time during the year as it does not rely on prior information being given. It has been designed to be taught in a block scheduled classroom and should be completed in approximately three weeks. Each class period has been divided into three sections of time so that journal writing, reading and formal writing are each covered per block. I have not used this unit in a block scheduled class before, however, so the time lines are purely speculative. The unit is designed with flexibility in mind with regard to adjustments in time as well as levels of difficulty.
Finally, several grading options are given along with a variety of grading scales which can be used for assessing each of the four writing activities.
According to Judy and Judy, there is a recommended range of writing activities that should be assigned throughout the year. This unit, to be used with the epic poem The Odyssey, incorporates each of the four categories which Judy and Judy suggest.
The four categories of writing activities according to Judy and Judy are as follows:
- Writing to explore the self
- Writing to explore others
- Writing to explore social issues, problems and values
- Writing based on investigation and research
Writing to Explore the Self
Role = the student
Audience = the student himself
Mode = journal writing in casual mode
Purpose = to write opinions, and feelings on various aspects of The Odyssey
Situation = journal writing relating aspects of today to The Odyssey
The Odyssey Notebook/Journal Activity
During the teaching of The Odyssey, students will be expected to keep a notebook of writing activities, including journal entries. A double-sided folder with brads in the middle is suggested so that the folder can be divided as follows:
- side pockets - These should hold hand-outs, study guides and any returned quizzes and tests.
- brads - These should hold two sections. One will be for the class notes and homework exercises from the text and the other will be for journal entries.
GRADING : Students will turn in the notebook twice during the unit. The first collection will be at the time of the mid-term and the second collection will be at the time of the final. Students will be required to decorate the front of the notebook with drawings, collages, etc; related to The Odyssey. Grades will be based on completion of the notebook rather than on accuracy. Points will be deducted for any item that is missing. Incorrect mechanics, spelling, etc; will not be emphasized in this activity.
Journal Entries to Accompany The Odyssey
- Describe what the term hero means to you.
- Name a hero in your life and describe why you consider them your hero.
- Tell about a journey you once took.
- Predict why you think a poem as old as The Odyssey might still be valuable today.
- What kinds of qualities does a good leader have?
- Draw a picture of what a cyclops might look like.
- Make a travel brochure of the Lotus Island.
- What kinds of obstacles do people today have to try and overcome?
- What kinds of qualities does Odysseus have that make him a good leader?
- What kinds of qualities does Odysseus have that make him a good friend?
- If someone says to you "Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts" what would this be in reference to and what could it possibly mean to you?
- Write an entry that Odysseus might write in his ship's log.
- Human weakness plays a big part in this story. Tell what Odysseus' weakness is and why Homer might have wanted to include this in his story.
- Make a detailed chart comparing and contrasting Odysseus and Eurylochus.
- Give your opinion of the article about the Trojan war.
Writing to Explore Others
As part of a pre-writing activity, have students fill out the friendship opinionnaire (see Appendix D (Adobe Acrobat File)). In class, go over the opinionnaire orally, playing devil's advocate by giving exceptions whenever possible. (i.e. re: number one "Friends should always be honest with each other." What about when the friend asks how you like his new, but really bad, haircut?)
After completing the opinionnaire in class, make the following assignment:
Using the friendship opinionnaire for reference, take one or more aspects of friendship to focus on while writing a letter to your best friend. In this letter, tell your friend how you feel about friendships. Be sure to include the following elements in your letter:
- References to the opinionnaire,
- References to your own friendship,
- References to friendships between Odysseus and his men.
Be sure to follow RAMPS.
Role = the student as a friend
Audience = the student's best friend
Mode = letter writing format
Purpose = to write a letter about friendship with references as above
Situation = describing friendships today and in The Odyssey
Writing to Explore the Social Issues, Problems and Values
The Lotus Eaters, while friendly, represent an obstacle for Odysseus and his men. There are many things today which may at first appear to be pleasant or friendly, but which may actually be obstacles in one's life.
Write a well-developed essay, using the writing process, describing obstacles teenagers or adults may face today and how this relates to the story of the Lotus Eaters.
Role = to describe the Lotus Eaters and how the story relates currently
Audience = your classmates, your teacher and other adults
Mode = formal essay
Purpose = to compare The Odyssey to today
Situation = writing in regard to literature
Writing Based on Investigation and ResearchThis lesson described is meant to be a culminating activity following the completion of the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer.
Students are asked to spend the last ten days on a creative project. The guidelines of the project are very broad in the sense that the students are encouraged to choose an area of interest to them, related to The Odyssey, and combine this interest with an interest of their own and create a presentation for the class demonstrating their knowledge.
For example, some possible projects would be as follows:
- Research the costumes worn during Ancient Greece and create an illustrated catalog of these designs or actually create an imitation of one of these designs. The actual costume could be life-sized or doll-sized.
- Research the types of food eaten in Ancient Greece or Modern Greece and create a cookbook or bring in samples of these dishes to share with the class.
- Research the weapons at the time of the poem and create a book of weapons.
- Using paint, clay or another art medium, create a depiction of a scene from the poem or demonstrate various Greek gods/goddesses.
- Make a comic book based on some aspect of Ancient Greece or illustrating the story of The Odyssey.
- Create a video, complete with costumes and sets appropriate to Ancient Greece, depicting a scene(s) from The Odyssey.
After a student chooses an area of interest, the classroom then becomes a research center for him/her to find ways of discovering information needed to complete his/her project. The student is then responsible for sharing the knowledge discovered with the class, as an oral presentation, a tangible demonstration and a written description of the project.
The possibilities are virtually limitless. Each student can explore an area of interest and then discover his or her own way to demonstrate the findings for the class. The classroom environment is one in which each student works individually at his/her own level of interest and own pace. The teacher's role is that of mentor/coach in assisting the students as they find information on their own. For example, the student may need the teacher to help him/her in locating the information needed.
The students in this environment are following an approach which is highly supported by John Dewey in the sense that the knowledge is student guided and built on students' interests. It is also highly individualized. The students are able to build on prior knowledge, but are not restricted to it. Students may encounter problems or lists of questions regarding the area in which they are studying, but the students must then use their problem-solving abilities to research or solve those problems.
Role = to create a research project based on poem
Audience = your classmates and teacher
Mode = a written description of research project
Purpose = to show a creative way of presenting The Odyssey
Situation = varies
According to Zemelman, there are three types of writing activities which should be covered in a writing class. They are as follows:
- formal teacher- prepared assignments that are process oriented
- self-sponsored writing
- writing to learn assignments
Of these three types of writing assignments is covered in this unit. The first one is a formal teacher-prepared assignment which is covered in this unit in writing assignment three which is a formal essay on the Lotus Eaters. The second type of writing activity is covered in writing assignment number one which is the journal/notebook. The third type of activity, writing to learn, is included in assignment four which is a research assignment.
There are three guidelines for assessing finished pieces:
- Clarify expectations on grading standards
- Use positive written comments
- Grading for completion is appropriate at times
It is important to note that in this unit the above guidelines should be followed. Assignments number one and four should be graded based on completion. There is a need for unmonitored practice in writing. The journal, assignment one, should be heavily weighted in points, however, as it includes homework assignments and was a daily part of classroom work.
Assignments number two and three are more formal in format and should therefore be graded. For the grading of these assignments, a specific and detailed explanation of how these assignments will be graded should be given to the students. Flexibility on which grading scale to use is available so that the teacher may be able to choose whichever scale he/she finds most suitable to a particular class.
Peer Review and Self-Editing:
An important part of the writing process involves editing a rough draft. For the purpose of this unit, assignments number two and three should involve some formal editing. The other two assignments require little editing and should be done by the author/student as he or she desires.
It has been proven that the most effective types of peer editing occur when there are two guidelines followed. Firstly, the peers should be paired off in a pre-planned method specifically chosen by the teacher. The teacher should keep in mind information regarding group dynamics and choose pairs best suited to work with one another. Secondly, the best types of peer review occur when there are definite guidelines to follow. Several examples of excellent peer review checklists can be found in Appendices to . A variety is given so that the teacher may choose the best checklist suited for a particular class.
In conclusion, this unit, when accompanying the epic poem The Odyssey, combines aspects of all types of writing activities. There are assignments which are formal and some which are informal. Some of the assignments are creative, while one is based on research. The assignments include writing to explore self, writing to explore others, writing to explore social issues, and writing to explore information. The writing pieces also include self-sponsored, teacher-prepared and writing to learn assignments, such as suggested by Zemelman. By teaching literature with a strong base in writing, such as the one offered here, students can learn writing in context and by so doing become stronger writers.
Day by Day Syllabus
Each class period being approximately 90 minutes long, should be divided into three sections. The first thirty minutes will be spent orally reviewing what was read the day before and writing journal entries. The second thirty minutes should be spent reading The Odyssey. It is suggested that the reading be done orally in class for the first two weeks and then later be done silently depending on the ability level of the class. In the event that certain pages are not covered in class, the student will be responsible for finishing the reading for homework. The third thirty minutes should be spent on writing activities or completing the written questions.
- Day One
- Journal entry one
Read pp. 678 - 684 Do questions 1-4 p.684
Copy the chart of Greek characters p.679
- Day Two
- Journal entry two
Read p. 685
Do questions 1-5 p.686
- Day Three
- Journal entry three
Read pp.686 - 688 (line 156)
- Day Four
- Journal entry four
Read pp. 688 - 690
Do pre-writing for writing exercise three
- Day Five
- Journal entry five
Read pp. 691 - 693 (line 352)
Work on rough draft for writing exercise three
- Day Six
- Journal entry six
Read pp. 693 - 696 (line 460)
Do peer review for writing exercise three
- Day Seven
- Journal entry seven
Read pp. 696 - 698
Do questions 1-6 p. 698
Turn in final copy of writing exercise three
- Day Eight
- No Journal entry
Read pp. 698 - 703
Do questions 1-7 p. 703
- Day Nine
- Journal entry eight
Read pp. 705 - 710
Do questions 1 -8 p. 707 and questions 3 & 5 p. 710
Complete the pre-writing friendship opinionnaire for writing ex.2
Go over the opinionnaire orally in class
- Day Ten
- Journal entry nine
Read pp. 710 - 715
Do questions 4 -6 p.715 (Interpreting) and questions 1 & 2 (Recognizing language)
Write the rough draft for writing exercise two
- Day Eleven
- Journal entry ten
Read pp. 717 - 722
Do questions 1 - 7 p.722
Peer review writing exercise two
- Day Twelve
- Journal entry eleven
Read pp. 723 - 727
Do questions 1 - 4 p.724 and questions 1 - 5 p.727
Final draft due for writing exercise two
Do pre-writing/brainstorming for creative projects/writing exercise 4
- Day Thirteen
- Journal entry twelve
Read pp. 727 - 732
Do questions 1 - 5 p.730 and questions 1 - 4 p.732
Go to the library to research for creative project
- Day Fourteen
- Journal entry thirteen
Read pp. 732 - 737
Do questions 1 - 5 p.737
Go to the library to research for creative project
- Day Fifteen
- Journal entry fourteen
Read pp. 738 - 740
Do questions 1 - 6 p.740 (Thinking) and questions 1 - 3 p.740 (Analyzing)
Complete research and work on creative project
- Days Sixteen and Seventeen
- Journal entry fifteen
Present creative projects/writing exercise four orally in class
Turn in written description of writing exercise four/creative project
- Day Eighteen
- Final Exam over The Odyssey
McDougal, Littell & Company, Literature & Language, unit resource book/orange level.
Prentice Hall, Literature/ Gold, second edition, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1989.
Last modified: Thu, 24 May 2007 04:20:19 Eastern Daylight Time