Suggested Teacher Instructions:
I designed this project as a culminating, summative assessment after reading William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar; however, the project is adaptable for any unit on tragedy.
Anticipatory Set: I begin by reviewing the elements of tragedy, and our class completes the Tragic Hero Planner together as a review of the text we have read. As a segue into the project, I ask questions about what we could change about this tragic hero to modernize him, which leads to a class discussion about which elements of a tragic hero are most important.
Preparation: I distribute copies of the assignment sheet with the self-evaluation rubric printed on the back.
Instruction—Brainstorming: I use the Tragic Hero Planner to model how to generate my own hero. Typically, our previous class discussion about modernizing our literary tragic hero assists the class with getting started. I model parts of the planner myself before asking students to help me (Gradual Release Model). Then I ask students to work with a partner or small group to brainstorm their heroes. As with most projects, I let students work with a partner or alone; this allows me to differentiate for introverts, who prefer to work alone. After 15 minutes of brainstorming, students share their ideas with the class. Sometimes, I use a carousel/walkabout strategy and have students write their ideas at each station.
Instruction—Project Components: I model choosing each component for students by explaining why I would choose to complete a resume rather than an interview for MY tragic hero, based on either my preference or the characteristics that make the hero great. Some students prefer making their selections one at a time, and others like to decide all the elements at once. I typically give students two days to make their decisions final (but I let them change if an element doesn’t align with what they are trying to accomplish.) I set out samples of student Tragic Hero projects from previous years, and students use these exemplars as scaffolding to guide their process, as needed. Before students begin completing the project components, I review the rubric and how the various parts comprise the entirety of the tragic hero. I emphasize using the rubric to guide product development and revision. I ask them to complete their self-evaluation rubric in pencil, so they may change their evaluation as they revise each aspect of the project. We use student revision groups to edit the components before preparing their presentations. After completing all components, students rehearse for the performance. Some students choose to videorecord their project to view/show in the classroom rather than presenting it live.
Presentations—On the final due date, students present their tragic heroes to the class. Each student is expected to complete peer evaluations as part of his/her participation grade. I ask them to take these seriously because HOW they evaluate their peers shows me how well they understand or don’t understand the rubric.
This project takes about two weeks to complete, depending on block/traditional scheduling and other time constraints. If we don’t have that much time, I encourage students to work in small groups of 3-4 rather than with a partner to have fewer presentations and less class time for peer evaluation. I hope you and your students enjoy this project! Please contact me with any questions, suggestions, or feedback.
All the best!
Melinda @ The Literacy Cookbook