Who has hair of snakes and eyes that can turn you to stone? Medusa, of course! Grab your students’ attention with two different views of this alluring mythological creature. “Medusa,” a humorous poem told in first person, characterizes the Gorgon as a frustrated woman who just can’t do a thing with her hair. Conversely, a brief narrative entitled “The Dreadful Gorgons” provides a third-person account of Perseus’s quest to slay the monstrous Medusa.
This four-part lesson plan engages highly able (gifted and talented) fourth and fifth graders and all sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in these activities:
1. Each student reads either the poem or narrative and writes a thorough character description (CCSS RL.4.3).
2. Each student identifies the narrator’s point of view and describes how it influences events in a text (CCSS RL.4.6, RL.5.6, RL.6.6, RL.7.6).
3. In pairs, students share texts, descriptions, and analyses (CCSS SL.4.1, SL.5.1, SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1). Then they use higher order thinking skills to compare and contrast the two pieces (CCSS RL.5.3, RL.6.9, RL.7.3, RL.8.3) and analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on character types from myths, including how original material is created (CCSS RL.8.9).
4. In an optional activity, each student writes an original third-person narrative to parallel “The Dreadful Gorgons” but portray Medusa in a favorable light (CCSS W.4.3, W.5.3, W.6.3, W.7.3, W.8.3).
Lesson plans with objectives, “Medusa” by Oliver Herford and an excerpt from “The Dreadful Gorgons” by James Baldwin (both public domain), steps for writing a character description with an example, a rubric for assessing character descriptions, narrator’s point of view analysis sheet, comparing two texts analysis sheet, a writing prompt, themed stationery, and answer key are included.
This set of lesson plans is a great supplement to your class’s study Greek mythology, The Lightning Thief, or any of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians or Heroes of Olympus books. If you'd like to add vocabulary component, try Words from Mythology
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This product was designed with depth and complexity to challenge learners.