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What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of a Hero
Text Set for The Odyseey by Homer
created by Lara Hawley

The theme of What is a Hero? can be explored from many different viewpoints. Students might look at how society portrays a hero and what expectations we, as members of this society, have. This can cause individuals to examine the ethnicity, gender, and culture of modern day heroes. Forcing them to decide whether or not society’s idea of a hero aligns with their own personal definitions of a hero. The question of What is a Hero?, allows students to make associations to their own lives. They can describe people they know and defend whether or not they fit these conceptions of heroes. It prompts the students to question their original impressions of a hero.

The unit and theme will be investigated through the lens of the novel The Odyssey. This text is complex and often difficult for young students to engage in. It incorporates challenging language, but my hope is that through this theme, students will become more interested in the characters and the storyline. The additional video clips, charts, and other resources will help the class make sense of the book.

As I was generating my Text Set, I tried to include resources that would spark interesting conversations in the classroom. For example, I included the “Pep Talk from Kid President” to force my students to look at themselves as heroes. I also incorporated the “7 Types of Heroes” so the students could broaden their idea of what a hero is and compare different types of heroes. I hope that students will rethink the characters of the Odyssey during this unit and decide whether or not they should be considered heroes.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
The Odyssey by Homer
odyssey

Graphic Novel
shadow hero
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Books (Excerpts)
Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson
Be a Changemaker

Videos
“What is a Hero?”
Freedom Writers Clip (Everyone is a Hero)
“For the Heroes: A Pep Talk from Kid President”
Les Miserables Clip (Selfless/Forgiveness)
Caitlyn Jenner Speech

Movies
Star Wars
The Dark Knight Rises

Images
we can do it
 superman
helping wheelchair
homeless

Poems
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
“A Hero” by Robert William

Short Stories”
“Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes
“Initiation” by Sylvia Plath
“Cranes” by Hwang Sunwon

Songs
“Kill Your Heroes” by AWOLNATION
“We Could Be Heroes” by Alesso

PowerPoint (Teacher Created/Shared)
“Superhero PowerPoint”

Internet Sources
The Hero’s Journey
Five Qualities of Incredibly Heroic Leaders
7 Types of Heroes
Anti-Hero
Dictionary Definition
Hero Quotes

News Articles
What is a Hero?
CNN Heroes

Guiding Questions

  • What is a hero?
  • What makes someone a hero?
  • Do you have to be perfect to be a hero or can heroes make mistakes?
  • Can you be a hero because of one heroic act?
  • Are there different types of heroes?
  • Is heroism an innate or learned quality?

Writing Prompts

  • How are you a hero?
  • Who is your hero and why?
  • Make a list of top ten qualities of a hero–from most important (1) to least important (10).
  • Which of the characters in the Odyssey is the most heroic?

A special thanks to Lara for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

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