I explore the hero's journey with my students throughout the year by exploring works from Beowulf to Macbeth. This lesson originally appears in a unit for The Canterbury Tales on CC.BetterLesson.
My classes are held in 100 minute block sessions. The lesson below outlines background activities on Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales.
I explain to students that we will be studying The Canterbury Tales in this next unit. I introduce the Big Idea, "Life is a quest," by discussing how we have studied the hero's journey and how it reflects the challenges and growth of life. Just as the hero goes on a quest, life itself is a quest full of opportunities for development.
I inform the class that today we will be exploring background on Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales, and how his life experiences informed his writing. I use my adaptation of a PowerPoint, "Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales" (PowerPoint: Chaucer and THE CANTERBURY TALES) (Greenville, South Carolina School District) a colleague shared with our team. I require students to take notes as I am presenting; they must list details about Chaucer (Student Work: Sample One - Background Notes) and The Canterbury Tales (Student Work: Sample Two - Background Notes) they believe are significant.
As we explore the PowerPoint, a few important details I point out are as follows:
To provide students with a preview of the literature, I play a video interpretation of "The Wife of Bath's Tale" (6:09) from The Canterbury Tales (Beryl Productions, 1998), also available on YouTube as posted by Beryl Productions.
I like this activity because students have to make sense of the information presented to them and they are required to make notes on what they deem significant. Note-taking is an important skill for college and career readiness. They must write detailed notes over a sustained time period. They use writing to write down what is significant to them, reflecting on the material as it is presented, and by writing, they must process the information.
After collecting student notes, we complete a class ticket out. I give students five minutes to work with a partner and write down what they learned in today's lesson. We debrief as a class, and volunteers state the following: