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Mythical Creatures Lesson Plan

Megan Reichelt

LSC 835

10/18/11

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Library Mission Statement

The ee cummings School Media Center strives to create curious, persistent, and skilled lifelong learners

by:

- Creating a safe, nurturing environment for inquiry of all kinds.

- Fostering creativity, original thought, and a thirst for knowledge.

- Providing a forum for divergent perspectives where controversial issues can be discussed

and researched intelligently and courteously.

- Supporting and enriching the school curriculum by supplying the school with diverse

resources of the highest quality from different cultures, religions, and ethnic groups in

various formats for all age groups at the school.

- Aiding students, teachers and staff develop information literacy and technological skills that

will provide them with powerful learning and communication tools.

- Giving patrons access to materials that will help them make intelligent decisions and

develop skills for their daily lives.

School Level: Upper Elementary School

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Core Curriculum Standards for Maryland

Literary Texts:

1.a Listen to critically, read, and discuss a variety of literary texts representing diverse cultures,

perspectives, ethnicities, and time periods.

3.a Identify and distinguish among types of narrative texts such as short stories, folklore, legends, myths,

realistic fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies, personal narratives,

plays, and poetry.

6.b Identify and explain similar themes across multiple texts.

8.c Identify and explain the relationship between a literary text and its historical context.

Informational Texts:

1.a Read, use, and identify the characteristics of nonfiction materials such as textbooks, appropriate

reference materials, research and historical documents, personal narratives, diaries, and journals,

biographies, newspapers, letters, articles, web sites and other online materials, other appropriate

content-specific texts to gain information and content knowledge.

2.b Use graphic aids such as illustrations and pictures, photographs, drawings, sketches, cartoons, maps

(key, scale, legend, graphs, charts/tables, and diagrams, other graphic aids encountered in informational

texts.

2.c Use informational aids such as introductions and overviews, materials lists, timelines,

captions, glossed words, labels, numbered steps, bulleted lists, footnoted words, pronunciation key,

transition words, other informational aids encountered in informational texts.

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2.d Use organizational aids such as titles, chapter titles, headings, subheadings, tables of contents,

numbered steps, glossaries, indices, transition words, other organizational aids encountered in

organizational texts.

2.e Use online features such as URLs, hypertext links, sidebars, drop down menus, home pages, site

maps.

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AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners:

1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.

1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.

1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness

for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.

1.1.7 Make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and

supporting ideas, conflicting information, and point of view or bias.

1.1.8 Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.

1.1.9 Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.

1.2.1 Display initiative and engagement by posing questions and investigating the answers beyond the

collection of superficial facts.

1.2.5 Demonstrate adaptability by changing the inquiry focus, questions, resources, or strategies when

necessary to achieve success.

1.2.6 Display emotional resilience by persisting in information searching despite challenges

1.3.1 Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers.

1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.

1.4.1 Monitor own information-seeking processes for effectiveness and progress, and adapt as

necessary.

1.4.2 Use interaction with and feedback from teachers and peers to guide own inquiry process.

1.4.3 Monitor gathered information, and assess for gaps or weaknesses.

1.4.4 Seek appropriate help when it is needed.

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2.1.1 Continue an inquiry based research process by applying critical thinking skills (analysis, synthesis,

evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw

conclusions, and create new knowledge.

2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.

2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real

world situations, and further investigations.

2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.

2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and

solve problems.

2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that

express new understandings.

2.2.4 Demonstrate personal productivity by completing products to express learning.

3.1.1 Conclude an inquiry based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the

learning.

3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

3.1.3 Use writing and speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively.

3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding

in ways that others can view, use, and assess.

3.2.1 Demonstrate leadership and confidence by presenting ideas to others in both formal and informal

situations.

3.2.2 Show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations and by

contributing questions and ideas during group discussions.

3.2.3 Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others.

3.3.5 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within and beyond the learning community.

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3.4.1 Assess the processes by which learning was achieved in order to revise strategies and learn more

effectively in the future.

3.4.2 Assess the quality and effectiveness of the learning product.

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Student Population

The ee cummings Public Charter School 5th grade language arts class is comprised of 20 students. They

come from diverse ethnic backgrounds: Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and a few Indian.

Several are children of immigrants. The school itself is a public charter school devoted to cultural

diversity and student-based constructivist learning practices.

Goals

1) To excite students about the mythology of different cultures and provide a gateway into further

study of the topic.

2) To give students ownership of their knowledge through problem-based learning and choice of

topic, encouraging them to use critical thinking to explore and expand their inquiry base.

3) To help the students develop research skills to discern appropriate and reliable sources from

poor ones, how to focus their topic by asking questions and exploring details, how to take

appropriate notes to personalize and retain data and develop their own ideas.

4) To use the ISP model to guide students through the inquiry process.

5) To guide students through the creation of a website.

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Learning Objectives

Once this unit is finished, I want the students to be able to:

1) Be excited and curious about mythology.

2) Be able to evaluate their work and the work of others in an ongoing constructive process,

and see mistakes as opportunities for learning, rather than failure.

3) To be able to work creatively in a group.

4) To efficiently research a topic using a variety of sources.

5) To be able to evaluate sources for their appropriateness and accuracy.

6) To cite sources in their final work to give credit to the authors, and weight to their research.

7) To think critically and offer opinions based on prior-knowledge and research.

8) To be able to create a functional, user-friendly, informative and attractive webpage.

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Resources and Supplies

For the Teachers:

- Mearls, M., Bisland, G., & Schwalb, R. J. (2010). Monster Manual 3 : roleplaying game core rules. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast.

- Rowling, J. K. (2001). Fantastic beasts and where to find them. New York, NY: Arthur A.

Levine Books.

- Mythological Creature Creation Activity Handout (Appendix A)

- Art Supplies

- Large board and marker

- Rubric Handout with Student-Created Criteria (created after the 2nd class)

- Keyword Handout (Appendix C)

- Web Chart Handout: http://www.edhelperclipart.com/clipart/teachers/org-topic-6ideas.pdf

- Bibliography Chart (Appendix B)

- 20 library computers

- Doodlekit (a kid-friendly website builder)

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For the Students:

Allan, T. (2008). The mythic bestiary: The illustrated guide to the world’s most fantastical creatures. New York, New York: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Alt, M., & Yoda, H. (2008). Yokai attack!: The Japanese monster survival guide. Japan: Kodansha USA.

Leach, M. (Ed.). (1972). Funk & Wagnalls standard dictionary of folklore, mythology and legend. New York, New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

Matthews, J., & Matthews, C. (2010). The element encyclopedia of magical creatures: The ultimate A-Z of fantastic beings From myth and magic. London: HarperElement.

McNab, C. (2006). Mythical monsters : the scariest creatures from legends, books, and movies. New York, NY: Tangerine Press.

Weber, B. (2008). Fabulous and monstrous beasts : explore the fascinating world of mythical, legendary and real-life creatures. London: Kingfisher.

In addition to these resources, the students will use the myth and folklore section of the school media

center which includes anthologies of myth from all around the world, and the ancient cultures section of

the school media center.

Digital Resources:

Theoi Greek Mythology: http://www.theoi.com/

The Medieval Bestiary: http://bestiary.ca/

Monstropedia: www.monstropedia.org

Greek Mythology.com: www.greekmythology.com, which includes Bulfinch’s Mythology Online (Chapter

16 is all about monsters).

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Authentic Learning and Summative Assessment

The unit is framed around an imaginary problem in their community: creatures from myth and legend

are appearing in their neighborhoods and they need to help defend the city. They must gather

information on different creatures and create a website that the community can access so that they

know how to defend themselves. This engages their emotions by activating an element of danger for

their families and friends, and gives them a sense of responsibility for saving them. It empowers them in

the role of community hero. It also makes the research into a game, a problem that they have to solve,

rather than simply an assignment for class.

Every step of the way, students will be evaluating themselves and each other. They will develop the

questions they need to answer in order to be successful with the website. They will be encouraged to

offer opinions on their research, rather than simply reciting facts (“why do you think that…?”) At the

beginning of every class, they will have a chance to voice concerns and challenges with their research,

and the class will offer ideas as a group. During the class, the teachers will travel to each student to see

where they are in research, where they are having difficulties, and where the teachers can offer tips and

advice. At the end of each class, the students will write in a journal responding to prepared questions

with a freeform section at the end. The questions will range differ for each class, but will always include

a section regarding the challenges they are facing. These will be reviewed by the teachers before every

class so that they can address the challenges and learn how to better formulate the unit.

At the beginning of the unit, the students will work in groups to create a creature to solve a question

they have about the world (i.e. what are the sparkles in sunbeams). They will create a picture of it as

well as invent its properties and mythology. The students will be evaluated by the teachers for their

group interaction, as well as the final product.

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The research conducted in the unit will culminate in a website that students create for the community.

This website will be evaluated by the students (and the teachers) based on the criteria the students

stated at the beginning of the course. This will be considered as part of their summative assessment.

After the students present their webpages to the class, they will engage in another game: the monsters

have started appearing in the library. The teacher will name a creature no student researched, and the

students must use their research skills to find the creature and describe how to defeat it in time. In

addition to the website, this will serve as a summative assessment to see if they can quickly retrieve

reliable information.

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The Detailed Lesson Plan:

Lesson 1- Initiation (Lead by Subject Teacher)

Welcome: Sign on the door that says “Monster Hunter Headquarters.” Start class by telling them that

they have been specially selected as candidates for the new Monster Hunter Society. They will have to

pass a test to get in. First, they will learn a bit about monsters.

Group Discussion: Ask them what monsters they know. Write them on a board. Some of these monsters

came from myth and legend. Ask if they know what a myth is? Discuss why there are myths (explain the

world: fear, wonder). Discuss how there are myths from all over the world, Do they know any myths?

Ask them if they know mythological creatures. Talk about places that have mythological creatures in

them (video games, books, movies). Spice the discussion by mentioning interesting ones from different

cultures, like the Kappa from Japanese myth, or the banshee from Irish myth.

Group Activity: Tell them it is now time to test them to see if they can get into the Monster Hunter

Society. Put the class into groups to make up their own mythological creature as a response to

something in their lives: what are dust motes, why do we have earthquakes? Emphasize that the

Monster Hunter Society is looking for creative individuals who think outside the box, and who always

ask “why?” Have the students present their monsters (see handout). Point out moments when the

group demonstrated in highly creative and well-supported thinking.

Introduce the project: Tell them they have all passed and are now official Monster Hunters. The

Monster Hunters needed new recruits because magical creatures are appearing all over town. Their job

is to choose a creature from mythology, find out all about it, and then create a website that will help the

town identify and deal with the creature if they come across it. Ask them what questions they would

have about the creature. These will be the parameters for the project. Make sure they include “Why do

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you think this culture told stories about this creature?” Tell them that the next class they will choose

their creatures and start researching it.

Homework: Before the next class, they should write in their journals about the class (what you thought

of the class, how are you feeling about the project, what you know about mythological creatures, what

you would like to find out, where would you start looking).

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Lesson 2-Selection and Exploration (Lead by Librarian)

Reflection and Discussion: Discuss what the students wrote in their journals. Ask them where they

would start looking for information about mythological creatures. Write the responses on the board (see

evaluation).

Sources: Discuss different resources (bestiaries, encyclopedias, maps, websites, and anthologies of

myth). Pass around various resources. Discuss search strategies (table of contents, indexes, how to use

the catalogue, etc). Let the students lead the discussion, and only suggest things if the students are out

of ideas.

Evaluating Resources: Explain how you have to be careful b/c some creatures are from ancient myth,

and some are from a D and D manual, or what someone made up for a story. Have them read an article

about dragons from selections from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” and the D and D

Manual, and a beastiary. Ask them which one they should use in project. Teach them how to cross

check sources with others. Show them the Medieval Beastiary website, which references the sources

where they get their information. Introduce them to Wikipedia and tell them it is a good starting off

point, but that they are only allowed to use it to gather more resources, and they cannot cite

information directly from it. Show them how to find the list of mythological creatures. Discuss how

different sources may have contradictory information. For example, some sources may say that garlic

will kill vampires, but others say it will only keep them away. Discuss the different ways you can say that

in the website (taking a side, saying both with the caveat that people disagree, etc).

Note-taking: Ask them how they should keep track of the information they found. Discuss note-taking,

making sure they know to write down where they found information. Give them the Bibliography Chart

for this purpose, and tell them to number the sources, so they can put the number of the source next to

the information they found in that source. Give them the Keyword Handout out so they can brainstorm

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key words to search for in the catalogue, indexes, table of contents, and search engines. Give them the

Web Chart hand out so they can begin to categorize the information they find.

Begin Research: Give the students several resources to start from. Have half the class take computers,

and the other half look at book sources, and switch halfway through. Both of the teachers will visit each

student to give individual assistance and advice.

Homework: Tell them that next class they will choose a creature to contribute to their online bestiary.

Ask them to reflect in their journal about the class, how they felt, what they learned, what challenges

they encountered, why they think they encountered them, and what they think they should do to

overcome the challenges, what they would like to learn more about, and how will they try to find the

information.

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Lesson 3- Formulation (Lead by Subject Teacher)

Reflection and Group Discussion: Discuss what the students wrote in their journals. Ask them if they

know which creature they will choose? If not, what challenges are they facing?

Narrowing the Topic: Discuss how the same creatures pop up in different cultures. Ask for examples, if

they have them. If not, give them a description of a phoenix and ask them what creature that is. Explain

it is not only the description of a phoenix, but a Hindu Garuda and the Chinese Fenghuang as well. Why

do they think the phoenix appears in different cultures? Discuss how there are different types of the

same creature : i.e. Japanese dragons, etc. Allow them to choose, based on the sources they have, if

they want to narrow their choice or keep it general (compare and contrast, and not focusing on one).

More Specific Resources: Ask them what resources are helping them the most. Why? Ask them what

resources they should add now that they know their creature? Show them additional search strategies,

like using bibliographies to get new sources. Show them more in depth sources: tell them to read the

stories referenced in encyclopedias, etc. Encourage them to research the country and time period in

which the creature appeared. Explain how you need visual resources for a website, so they should

search for pictures of the creature, maps of the country where the story was told, videos that help tell a

story about the creature. Tell them that they can also use their local library. Tell them if they get stuck,

they should find a point of their research and ask “Why?” For example, you discover that king Minos put

the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Why did he do that? You may not always find the answer written down. If

you don’t, you can say what you think, and why you think that based on what you have researched.

Homework: The students should go home and write in their journals, answering the following questions:

What did you think of the class? How do you feel about this stage in the research? Did you have a hard

time choosing and narrowing your topic? Why? What will help you next time? Do you feel ready to put

the information into a website? Why or why not?

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Lesson 4- Collection (Lead by Librarian)

Reflection and Group Discussion: Discuss what the students wrote in their journal. Ask them if they feel

they are ready to create a website. Tell them they can still research while making the website if they find

they need more information. Ask them to find you examples of informative websites that they liked

while they were researching. What did they like about them? Why? Ask them about the audience for

their website. How should their website look if it is to help the community defeat the monsters? Should

their page be an essay? A story? A list of monster characteristics? Tell them not to forget that anything

in the monster’s background could be a clue to help defeating it: its past enemies, what it likes to eat,

where it came from (if it came from a warm place, if could be defeated by cold) etc. Get them to think

creatively about the information they collected.

Website Creation: Sit them all down in front of the computer and show them the basic web software:

Doodlekit. Don’t give them too much background. Show them how to write text in the space. Ask them

to play around on it and raise their hand if they discovered how to do anything cool. When the do, ask

them to come up to the front of the class and show everyone on the computer hooked up to the

projector. This way they will learn by trial and error, by watching someone show them, and by teaching

others. If after sometime the students have not mentioned something the teacher deems critical to the

project, show them as one of the class (“I found something cool to do!”) Show them how to scan a

picture into the computer, and how you are supposed to credit pictures in their caption. Show them

how to do a works cited at the bottom of the page, and put hyperlinks next to the information found in

each item to the record in the works cited. Let them work, and go around to each of them to see if they

are having trouble (see if anyone else is having the same problem), or if they are doing exceptionally

well (show the class).

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Homework: If the students have not finished their website, or wish to work on it further, tell them you

will make the library available before and after school, and show them how to access the software from

home. Tell them to be ready to present the websites at the next class. Have the students write in their

journal answering the following questions: What did you think about class? How did you feel about it?

Did you like building your own website? What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them? If

you haven’t yet, what do you think you can do to overcome them?

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Lesson 5- Presentation (Lead by Subject Teacher)

Reflection and Discussion: Discuss with the students what they wrote in their journals. Discuss the

entire project with them. How did they feel at each stage of ISP? Show them how everyone felt the

same way, and that it is the natural process of research. Have them make a list of how they would do

research in the future. What did they learn throughout the process and what would they do differently

next time? (see evaluation).

Unveiling the Website: Before class, create a home page for the project, with links to all the students’

webpages. Unveil it to the students on the overhead projector. Hand out the criteria the students

established at the beginning of the unit. Each student in turn will come up and present their website to

the class, stating what it is and why they made the website that way. The students are free to ask

questions of each other about the topic of the website, the website itself, or their research. Students

will evaluate each other based on the criteria set out at the beginning of the class using a rubric with a

comment space for each section (this will be generated by the teacher after Lesson 2). The scores they

can give the students are from 1-5: 1=Monster Meat (Below Expectations), 2= Trainee (Progressing

towards Criteria), 3= Monster Hunter (Meets Criteria), 4= Ultimate Monster Hunter (Exceeds Criteria).

These will be turned in to the teacher/ librarian, who will have a conference with the student after they

have reviewed the students’ responses.

Final Game: Once the discussion has ended, say that you feel a chill in the room. Put on your special

monster hunting goggles that allow you to see monsters who are trying to appear in our world. Tell the

class in a surprised voice that monsters are appearing all around them. They are stuck in the middle of

transporting, but could materialize any minute. Name all the creatures (creatures no one researched)

What should they do? They need to quickly use the resources they learned about to research the

monster’s weaknesses before it can materialize in the room. Tell them to use critical thinking to defeat

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it, distract it, or make it happy. The moment a pair has found the answer, tell them to raise their hand,

and tell the class the answer and where they found it. Have them act out whatever their solution was on

the invisible monster, and describe how the monster reacts. If any pair is left struggling, get the class to

help them. Once everyone has defeated their monster, give them all Monster Hunter badges, induct

them into the Monster Hunters, and have a party with monster-shaped treats for the rest of the class

period.

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Timetable

The unit will take 1-2 classes per lesson, which is at most 10 class periods total. Ideally, I would only

devote one class to each lesson, but I wish to keep the schedule flexible so that we can keep the

element of student-based discussion. Each class is an hour long, and the class has one library session a

week, with one session of Language Arts class devoted to the Monster Hunters project. This means that

the Monster Hunters unit will be taught for one hour every Tuesday and Thursday.

Collaborating Team

The collaborating team consists of me (the school media specialist) and the 5th grade language arts

teacher. While planning the collaboration, we will meet either during the school day, if time allows, or if

not, we will meet at a happy hour after school. While we will be co-teaching, each of us will lead certain

sections. The teacher will initiate the project for the first lesson. I will lead the following class on

resources. She will lead the class on focusing the topic. I will lead the class on collecting the information

and developing the website. She will lead the last class for the presentation and games. We will each

assist the other, especially when the topic of discussion turns to our area of expertise (for example,

“Why are there dragons in every mythology?” vs “Is this website reliable?” We will each evaluate the

journal and the final projects for our own area of expertise: for example, she will evaluate for the topical

element, and I will evaluate how the student is researching. We will meet before every class to compare

notes and evaluate the students and our teaching methods. For the final projects, we will add our

separate assessments to result in the final grade.

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Evaluation

The subject teacher and I will evaluate the event by documenting the progress of each student based on

their journals, their group work, their class participation, our observations and conversations with them,

and the two final projects. If we see an increase in ability at each stage, the class was a success. If we

note that each student had marked frustration at certain points we will use that information to make

the class better next time. We will also base the evaluation on our own personal journals that we wrote

in following each class.

We would demonstrate the outcome to the school community by showing them examples of individual

work, journal quotes and our observations over the period of time, demonstrating how a single

student’s grasp on the subject matter and the information literacy skills improves over the course of the

unit. I would display the group-generated list of what the students knew in the beginning of the unit and

compare it with what they said they knew by the end of the unit, which hopefully will display a great

leap in knowledge, skill and critical thinking.

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Create your own Mythical Creature

What question does your mythical creature answer (Examples: What are the flecks of light in sunbeams? What are earthquakes? Why do people become cold when they die?)

What is your creature’s name?

What does he look like? (write a discription and draw a picture)

Where does your creature live? What does your creature like to eat?

What does your creature like? What does your creature hate?

Is your creature considered evil? Why do you think your creature behaves in an evil way? Is he sad or lonely? Is he hungry?

What defeats your creature? (Only kill it as a last resort, in self defense. Trap it with something, make it happy, or distract it, if you can. It could just be misunderstood.)

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Copyright 2011, Megan Reichelt.