In this mega Beowulf Bundle, you will find 25 lessons and activities that include very thorough answer keys with textual evidence where applicable to take your Beowulf unit to the next level. This bundle includes the following items:
1. Beowulf Anticipation Guide: Heroism
a. This guide asks students to consider the modern-day, American concept of heroism. Students will brainstorm examples of heroism in today’s world as a means of studying the epic hero and the Anglo-Saxon concept of heroism. This activity establishes student anticipation of reading the poem Beowulf and provides an interesting platform for class discussion and debate.
2. Beowulf Cultural Discovery: An Introduction to the Anglo-Saxons
a. This is an excellent, jigsaw-type, collaborative activity to use as an introduction to the epic poem Beowulf. Essentially, students break into groups to look at only the Prologue and Parts 1 and 2 of the epic poem. Each group takes on the part of an anthropologist/archaeologist "digging" back into the past to learn about the world of the Anglo-Saxons. Each group receives a different set of questions about Anglo-Saxon culture to respond to by seeking out answers from the Beowulf text. Students then report their findings/ discoveries about Anglo-Saxon culture to the class. This is an excellent way to get students involved in active inquiry into a text. I typically do this activity BEFORE I give them any notes at all on Anglo-Saxon culture because I want them to see what they can discover on their own first. This activity is easily followed with a writing assignment in which students describe their findings using textual evidence. Included here are questions for 8 different groups per class (of course, in reality, you may have more groups per class, so you can simply repeat some of the questions amongst groups-- it's perfectly fine to see how two different groups approach the same questions because they will undoubtedly make different observations). Great way to get into the Beowulf story!
3. Beowulf Webquest and Wordle Poem
a. This activity takes students to The British Library page on Beowulf, the BBC encyclopedia on Anglo-Saxons, the Sutton Hoo organization site about the ancient burial grounds, and the Omniglot language site on Old English. Students are to visit each site and then answer questions and take notes on the information they discover there. As a summation of what they learn about the Anglo-Saxons on the Webquest, students then select 20 terms that relate to the Anglo-Saxons and create a Wordle poem using the website Wordle.net. Then, they write a paragraph explaining how their selected terms relate to the culture of the Anglo-Saxons and to the epic poem Beowulf. This is a great activity to get students involved in independent learning, and these websites will help them to understand and envision the world of the Anglo-Saxons. Answer key included!
4. Anglo-Saxon History Notes
a. This handout contains an outline of key historical notes about the Anglo-Saxons and the epic poem Beowulf. You can use these notes as a class handout or as notes for a lecture. Also, consider having students select a topic from this handout to research and present to the class.
5. Anglo-Saxon History Quiz
a. This quiz checks students’ knowledge of Anglo-Saxon history. You can use it as a means to hold students accountable for the notes and/or use it as a group activity in which students have to research the answers in order to learn about Anglo-Saxon life and times. Answer key included!
6. Anglo-Saxon Values and Vices Chart
a. This chart lays out both the values and vices of the Anglo-Saxon people. It is also accompanied by a text-based activity in which students search for examples of these values and vices in the text of the poem.
7. Beowulf Journal Prompts
a. These journal prompts contain writing tasks for all three levels of writing. They are excellent to use as warm-up/ bell-ringer tasks at the beginning of class periods or as more developed homework assignments. They also lend themselves to small group and/or whole class discussions.
8. Beowulf Reading and Discussion Questions
a. These question sets take students through a close reading of the poem and account not only for plot but also comprehension and interpretation as well. These questions also provide excellent discussion topics for small groups or the whole class. They can also serve as study guides for an objective-based test on the epic poem. Answer keys included with extended analysis and textual evidence to take your class discussion to a deeper level!
9. Beowulf Reading Checks
a. These three reading checks are plot-based and literally check to see if students read the assigned pages. They do not include interpretation or comprehension questions but instead keep students accountable for the reading so that they are prepared for class activities involving the poem. You will find reading checks for the major parts of the story: Grendel Attacks, The Coming of Beowulf, The Battle with Grendel, The Battle with Grendel’s mother, The Battle with the Dragon, and The Funeral Pyre. Answer keys included!
10. Beowulf “Connecting the Dots” Graphic Organizers
a. Graphic Organizer #1: Epic Conventions
b. Graphic Organizer #2: Traits of the Epic Hero
c. Graphic Organizer #3: Main Characters
d. Graphic Organizer #4: Archetypes
i. These graphic organizers are a nice supplementary item for a Beowulf unit. They give basic definitions of epic conventions, epic hero traits, archetypes, and major characters from the poem and allow space for students to write in textual evidence plus explanations for these items as they find them in the text. These are excellent tools to keep students organized when analyzing key concepts in the poem-- great for students of all levels! Thorough answer keys included with textual evidence and explanations!
11. Beowulf vs. the Epic Hero Cycle
a. This activity contains a chart of the stereotypical epic hero’s cycle in the epic genre. Students are to compare/contrast Beowulf’s journey with that of the stereotypical epic hero journey to arrive at a conclusion about whether or not they think Beowulf is a true epic hero. Students will collect textual evidence on a chart and then answer reflection questions about their observations in order to synthesize their analysis of Beowulf’s journey. This activity provides an excellent platform for class debate and for inspiring writing ideas.
12. Beowulf Rhetoric Activity
a. This activity has students complete a close reading of Beowulf's speech to Hrothgar in which Beowulf beckons the king for permission to slay the mighty monster Grendel. Students then make observations about the effect and impact of Beowulf's rhetoric to share with the class. This is an excellent activity for collaborative groups followed by whole class discussion. Consider assigning each group a specific rhetorical device to look for and present to the class instead of looking for all of them at once. You can easily adapt this activity according to the level of your students as needed. An extension of this close reading/discussion activity would be to assign an essay analyzing the rhetoric and style of Beowulf's speech. This is the perfect writing task to practice for the new essay requirements on the national ELA exam, which will require such analysis. Answer key included!
13. Bias and Propaganda in Beowulf
a. This activity challenges students to consider Beowulf as a work of propaganda. Students are to document examples of propaganda and bias in the poem by looking for specific propaganda devices and tone words in action. After gathering evidence, students synthesize their findings in a piece of writing to use as reference during a class discussion on how Beowulf exists as a piece of propaganda. Answer key included!
14. Intertextuality Activity: Beowulf and Wilbur’s Poem
a. This lesson takes a look at the connection between the story of Beowulf and Wilbur's poem entitled "Beowulf." It contains close reading questions as well as an extension writing activity that has students making connections between the epic poem and Wilbur's version in order to prepare for class discussion. This is an excellent way to assess nearly all of the Common Core Reading Standards in a single assignment while assessing students' understanding of the epic poem. Per copyright regulations, you will have to look up a copy of the poem, which you can easily find online. This document provides only the questions and activity to accompany a study of the poem—Answer key included!
15. Beowulf and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
a. In this intertextuality lesson, students view the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and compare/ contrast to it to the Beowulf story. Students are to answer general questions about the elements of the film while they watch and also fill out a comparison chart. Then, they are to write a paragraph in which they explore the relationship between the two texts. This activity not only challenges students’ analytical skills but also exposes them to allusions from other famous literary works.
16. Beowulf Agree/ Disagree Activity
a. This student handout contains five thematic statements that are relevant to the Beowulf story. Students either agree or disagree with each statement and then briefly explain their reasoning. This handout taps into students' prior knowledge on life themes relevant to the poem in order to establish a framework for thematic ideas they will observe in the story. I typically use this activity as an Anticipation Guide at the beginning of the Beowulf unit; however, it can also be used as an essay brainstorming guide or a classroom debate guide. These statements really get students interested in the story as they begin to think about why they believe what they believe and discuss/disagree with their peers.
17. Beowulf Debatable Statements Activity
a. This essay brainstorming activity contains 16 debatable thematic statements that relate to the Beowulf story to help students generate ideas for a Beowulf essay. Students are to think about how each statement applies to the Beowulf story (apart from their own personal opinions) and then briefly explain how each statement is true or false in the story. Students can complete this activity on their own or in small groups, and it is a terrific means of organizing whole class discussion and debate prior to beginning the writing process. After discussing the themes presented, students can then select one theme as the focal point for a theme analysis essay on the epic poem.
18. Beowulf Essay Brainstorming Activity— Topics/ Themes Chart
a. In this activity, students are to brainstorm a list of topics and themes for the epic poem to use as possible claims in a Beowulf essay. Here, you will find a teacher page of instructions on how to implement a Topics/ Theme Chart in your classroom along with a sample chart for Beowulf.
19. Beowulf Essay Thesis Statements
a. This handout contains a list of thesis statements that could be used in a Beowulf essay. This is an excellent item to use for differentiation (students can select a thesis statement from the list to begin a Beowulf essay), or use them as models to help your students generate their own original thesis statements. Note that these thesis statements correspond to both the Topics/ Theme Chart and the essay prompts that follow.
20. Literary Criticism: “Subversive Female Power in Beowulf”
a. This is a literary criticism that I wrote about the role of women in the epic poem Beowulf. It is accompanied with an annotation guide and discussion questions about the essay structure as well as the topic of female power in the poem. Use this essay also as a model for a literary analysis essay on Beowulf.
21. Beowulf Essay Prompts + Outline Form and Rubric
a. This handout contains a list of prompts for an essay on Beowulf. All prompts ask students to take their analysis beyond the obvious to target Common Core Standards. Included with the list of prompts is a thorough outline form to help students organize their ideas and a 10-point Skills Rubric for grading.
22. Beowulf Kenning Activity
a. In this activity, students try their hand at creating modern-day kennings to share with the class. Students have fun being creative with kennings!
23. Anglo-Saxon Boast Writing Assignment
a. This assignment asks students to create a poetic boast modeled after that of Beowulf in the epic poem. Students must integrate devices such as hyperbole, alliteration, and kennings into a boast about their accomplishments. Then, students are to write a paragraph explanation of the role boasting plays in the poem using at least two quotations from the text. Students have great fun sharing their boasts and also comparing/ contrasting theirs to that of Beowulf's. This is a great activity to get students involved in the poem in an interactive way!
24. Beowulf Comic Book Project
a. This Beowulf project uses the structure of the comic book to assess student understanding of the literary elements in Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon culture, and reading/writing/collaboration skills. Included here is the project assignment along with a Common Core aligned rubric. This is a great project to tap into student motivation in a fun, collaborative, engaging way that will simultaneously target reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
25. Beowulf Skills Application Test
a. This multiple-choice/ matching test includes two pieces of "new material" that connect to the epic poem Beowulf ("The Seafarer" and "Ulysses" by Tennyson), a few historical questions about the Anglo-Saxon period, a matching section of epithets to characters, a matching section of Anglo-Saxon traits to examples from the epic poem, a series of interpretation/ analysis questions, and a written response/ essay question. This test does NOT test rote memory-- it is a challenging skills application test that is 40 questions long and will truly assess your students' understanding of skills rather than plot. The two pieces of "new material" can be used as taught pieces as well. This test is a great way to align your assessments of Beowulf with the Common Core Standards because it involves transferring skills rather than just memorization. Answer key is included!
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