In this post, I briefly outline why it is both a challenge and a reward to teach mythology as a unit in a middle and high school classroom!
Introducing the Topic of Myth to Students
Last year my students sat at desks with
plexiglass screens, but we were still
able to engage in meaningful conversations
(including the meaning of myth). #thumbsup
Mythology is a powerful topic to introduce to adolescent learners in a Language Arts or Humanities classroom. But, there's a catch. You don't want to present mythology as "kids' stuff" — and you definitely want to have a conversation about how students were first introduced to mythology — via Disney's Hercules or from a children's book, or a trip to the library, or not at all! The aura of myth is everywhere. And myths originate from all the world's societies — from the moment the first human could speak, myths have been told.
State and reiterate to students that mythology is a wide-reaching topic, and in every culture and civilization, there is a mythology — the stuff of narrative that sticks, that is universal, and tells a human story. Greek mythology is a standard go-to when teaching myth. It's standard fodder in schools today — especially because of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Edith Hamilton's Mythology. But don't just stick with the Greeks — provide a variety of mythic stories and see how they are parallel, and share common patterns.
Finding Patterns in Myth and Identifying Tropes
Believe it or not — characters like
Spider-man, from Marvel comics and movies
— are just modern-day iterations of myth.
What god would Spider-man be? Anansi?
In a middle or high school setting, it's important to contextualize myth and to make it relevant for today's learners. How do you do that successfully? The best way to do it is to show how patterns in myth crop up in our everyday world. Perhaps your students are not worried about finding a nymph on the sidewalk, or striding a bull that turns into a God — but, mythology is all around us. I love to use the website TV Tropes — it organizes common tropes found in literature, movies, television, and video games to show how popular allusions form and where they can be found! One good place to start is to show students how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just another version of mythology, re-packaged for the new media set.
The difficulty with teaching myth to students is just simply the gulf of content that is out there. It can be overwhelming. But less is more. The goal of teaching mythology is to have students make connections. Also, older students can learn about the discrepancies found in myths, and chart out and graph those inconsistencies — such as why the stories from ancient sources change, are adapted, and evolve over time. There is no universal text when it comes to these stories — and prepare to leverage this reality to your advantage. Create group work that has students investigate the differences and similarities found in myth. And make sure to record and document what you find.
Teach a Three-Day Lesson on the Titan Gods and Goddesses
Where to start on a myth unit for middle and high school students? You can start with a lesson on creation myths, but don't forget the Titans. The Titans are the "old gods," and their stories are filled with violence, wonder, intrigue, rebellion, and the rise of the new gods, the Olympians. Learn with your students as you traverse stories that include a father castrated by his son; a wise, compassionate one who attempts to save humankind, and how a jar (or, is it a box?) unleashes mayhem onto the world!
|Use a three-day lesson plan digital download from |
Stones of Erasmus. Adolescents will love the messiness
and insanity of the old gods, the Titans.
Engage Secondary English Language Arts students with the story of the Titans, the second-generation gods, and goddesses of Greek Mythology. Learn each Titan's backstory, where they came from, and their relationship to the Giants, and the Olympians. There is a clash of the Titans, that's for sure. Hesiod called it the Titanomachy. Use this fully packed three-day lesson plan, designed especially for students aged 13-17 years old.
- This resource is optimized for distance learning. The product includes a durable Google Apps link. Access and modify this resource for student use on Google Classroom and other classroom management sites.
Use this Digital Download for a Three-day English Language Arts Lesson
Using my tested-in-the-classroom resources, your kids will want to discuss good and bad parenting skills, cursed families, sins of the fathers, the role of women in myth, power, and the clash of the Titans! So I have loaded this resource with TEN reading cards and a set of THIRTY questions that will get your students talking, writing, and wondering!
Common Core Standards: This resource aligns well with the reading literature standard: "Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux-Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus)."
This Resource Includes the Following Features:
- 1 Teacher's Three-day Lesson Calendar
- With a teacher-tested-stamp of approval, follow my suggestions on how to teach the origin story of the Titans with high school students. Start with background knowledge, places, and geography, engage students in group reading with custom-made reading cards, and quiz your class with trivia-style questions. Cap the lesson off with a creative writing activity.
- 10 Art + Literature Reading Cards
- Included in this resource are ten reading cards that cover the lives, misdeeds, and fates of all the Titans and Titanesses:
- Kronos (Saturn), Rhea, Crius, Coeus (Koios), Ocean (Oceanus), Tethys, Hyperion, Leto, Mnemosyne, Themis, Hecate, Phoebe, Iapetus, Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, the Giants, the Curedes, and the Dactyls!
- 1 Key Characters and Places Worksheet
- Orient your learners by identifying the key characters and the geographical location of the story.
- A Bank of 30 Trivia-style Questions about the Titans
- After your students engage in the reading cards, test their knowledge with a custom-made question set.
- 10 Frayer Model Vocabulary Cards (with student sample)
- Frayer models are a way to get kids to think about vocabulary visually in a four-section square —- A square for meaning, one for examples, another for non-examples, and a sketch. It is amazing to see the work they produce. A great way to decorate your classroom to showcase your kids' vocabulary-in-text understanding. The cards contain terms, Greek and Latin roots, and challenging words (as well as contextual entries fit to the story).
- Half-Sheet 3-2-1 Exit Ticket
- Exit tickets are a way to get data about your students' understanding of the lesson right before the class is finished. Collect these exit tickets and quickly see what ideas your students took away from reading and discussing the myth.
- 1 Essay Writing Activity (with two visual starters and prompts)
- Cap off this three-day lesson with a creative essay prompt to get students to make text-to-world connections.
- 1 Further Reading List
- Don't disregard this further reading list if you think it is merely a bibliography. Share the list with your students or have them do projects based on the research that is available. Assign different sources to students and organize presentations where learning can go deeper into the stories of the Titans.
- Answer Keys for all student-facing documents
- Teachers always ask for answer keys for my products so I made sure I gave you plenty of guidance on what to expect from students in their written and oral responses.
- Bonus: 3-Box Notetaking Template — Embed accountability into the lesson by having students annotate the text cards with notes, questions, and a summary of what they've read and comprehended.
I created this resource with secondary students in mind. It is designed for an English Language Arts Mythology unit —
- For any myth-related unit!
- On the Clash of the Titans!
- Use this resource as a stand-alone lesson or, pair it with a larger unit on Myth, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, The Theogony of Hesiod, Robert Graves's Greek Myths, or Edith Hamilton's Mythology, or Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein.
For resources similar to this one see my:
You can purchase this three-day lesson on Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon Ignite, Made By Teachers, and The Wheel Education!
PDF Copy for Printing