Heroes - GreaterGood

LIT – Teacher Resources – Heroes
Lesson Title: Heroes
Grade Level: Secondary
Relative Length: 3-5 days
Subject: Literature & Creative Writing
Immediate Objectives:
 Students will critically examine the protagonist in a book of their choosing.
 Students will use their perspective of the protagonist to examine their personal beliefs.
 Students will express their understanding of what a hero is in formal written form.
Global Objectives:
 To learn to analyze character traits and relate them to personal beliefs
 To express reading comprehension in a clear written form
 To use and reinforce standard essay-writing skills
Materials: Students will need to bring their favorite books to class. Students should have lined paper
and a writing utensil OR a computer and word-processing program, and a copy of the attached essay
instructions. Students will also need a basic understanding of how to write an essay. Teacher will need a
white board and pens.
Introduction: Students should have their materials out on their desks. Begin a class conversation about
the books they have chosen. What makes the book interesting—why did the student choose that
particular book? Did multiple students bring the same book? Do they have differing reasons for choosing
it as their favorite? Who is the protagonist in each book? Go into some detail for a few select books,
asking students why the protagonist is a hero.
1. Everyone has a different definition of what exactly a hero is. Have the class look at the list of why
the chosen characters are heroes, and discuss what constitutes a character trait and what
constitutes a character’s actions and/or feelings. Separate these out as a class—list them in two
different columns on the board, “trait” and “action”.
2. As a class, take a closer look at the “action” column. Suggest to the class that these actions can
be explained by a specific character trait. What traits might these actions represent? Courage?
Determination? Loyalty? Examine each action and transfer the results to the “traits” column.
3. Re-emphasize that every person has a different idea of what a hero is and how a hero might
react to a given situation. Ask students to think about a situation they were in recently. Then ask
them to think about the hero they have chosen from their book. How might that hero have
reacted in their shoes? If students are comfortable sharing, feel free to discuss briefly.
4. Take a few minutes to have students write down some specific traits that constitute a hero for
them, personally. Voice that these traits might be similar to the heroes in their books, or they
might be something else all together drawn from other places in their lives.
5. Explain the essay assignment. Review briefly the essay-writing skills that have been taught to
your students already at whatever level your class is ready for. Recommend going over thesis,
introduction, body, supporting evidence, and conclusion.
6. Students will write and turn in the first draft of the essay.
7. Move on to other lessons once the first drafts are done. Let the essay rest for a few days. Then
pass them back out in paper form, and ask students to edit and revise by hand directly on the
paper, attending to spelling and grammar as well as flow and content.
Closure: Students should get into small groups and share their essays aloud. Once they are done,
they should talk about the similarities and differences in how they see heroes, and how heroes from
their books might react in situations in others’ essays. Encourage students to also talk about how
they would react in such a situation. Remind them that they are the world’s future heroes.
Assessment: Students will be assessed on class participation and their essay. The finished essay
should be examined for detail, thoughtfulness, structure, grammar, and neatness. Participation and
involvement during the class discussion should be a significant factor. Recommend grading in three
parts: participation in class discussions (30%), finished essay (60%), and quality of revision (10%).
Notes & Resources:
The Literacy Site: Please feel free to tailor this lesson in any way to your own classroom or school. At
The Literacy Site, we hope to foster a love of reading in our children through education and awareness as
well as the simple act of providing books for children in need. Learn more at ww.TheLiteracySite.com.
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LIT – Teacher Resources – Heroes
Heroes Essay
The purpose of this essay is to explain what makes a hero for you, personally. To do
this, you will describe your personal beliefs of what traits make a hero, and use the hero
in your book to describe actions that these traits might drive a hero to take.
1. Read all of the instructions carefully.
2. Examine the traits that you believe a hero should have (you wrote these down
during the class discussion). Choose between three and five of these traits to
focus on in your essay.
3. Try to find actions that the main character takes in the story you have that
represent each trait. Bookmark these actions with scrap paper—they will be
used to support your ideas in the essay.
4. Work out what your thesis is going to be. What makes a hero a hero? Be
specific. Write your claim out and compare it to the list of traits and actions. Do
the traits you have chosen support your thesis?
1. Write your introduction, incorporating your thesis. Try to engage your audience.
2. Using the traits you have chosen, describe what it means to you to be a hero in
the body of your essay. This description should support your thesis. You should
explain the trait you have chosen, and choose from three types of examples to
support why that trait is heroic. Each of these types of examples should be
represented at least once in your essay:
 What action did the main character in your book actually take that
represents this trait?
 What heroic action would the main character have taken in a real situation
that you have really been in?
 What heroic action would YOU take if you were faced with a real situation
that happened to the main character in your book?
3. Wrap it up—write your conclusion, bringing together all that your reader should
have understood from the body of the essay.
Revising and Editing
1. Carefully re-read your paper. Is your thesis clear? Do your explanations still
make sense? Is your essay compelling? Make notes on the paper—highlight
both sections that need changes or further explanation and sections that are
done especially well.
2. Re-read your paper a second time. This time, look for spelling and grammar
issues. Mark each one with a correction. If you run into something you’re not
sure about, highlight it, try to define the problem (even if it’s only a vague
misgiving), and try to think of a way to solve or work around it.
3. Carefully re-write your paper with all of your changes. Turn in the final draft
stapled to the front of the first draft.
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