Unexpected Heroes and Good vs. Evil

Subject: English II CP: 60-minute period
Title: Unexpected Heroes and the Conflict between Good and Evil: Introduction to
Tolkien’s The Hobbit
1. Students will develop ideas about theme and challenge preconceptions of
literary ideas through the use of a variety of texts and resources. (SC ELA E2 1.1, E2
2. Students will create a variety of written/digital responses focusing on
major themes from the text. (SC ELA E2 1.6, E2 4.2) (ISTE 5.a) (NCTE 3.6.2)
3. Students will examine themes as they are present in unconventional
sources and relate them to our novel and to themselves. (SC ELA E2 1.1) (ISTE 1.a)
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to a text in the fantasy genre by
means of other forms of literature that exemplify themes present in The Hobbit and
in the genre as a whole. The purpose is to excite interest in the elements of fantasy
literature and students and make it more approachable to them by relating it to
more familiar resources.
Introducing the Lesson (Children’s Literature): (15 minutes)
1. The teacher will begin the lesson by using the Personal Triggers method
described by Milner and Milner. Students will be asked to think of
someone who is their own personal hero, or a time when they felt heroic
themselves, and write about it for a few minutes. (3-4 minutes)
a. What qualities made this person heroic or made you feel heroic?
Was there a decision involved where you had to choose between
what was right and wrong? What traits do you think make up a
2. The teacher will then pass out a handout to each student that contains an
excerpt from Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who!” (1 minute)
3. The teacher will then ask the students to follow along as she reads the
two-page excerpt aloud to the class, quite animatedly. (3-4 minutes)
4. The teacher will then have the students answer some questions aloud
pertaining to themes of the children’s book:
a. Is Horton a hero in this story for wanting to help the people on the
speck of dust? Why or why not?
b. How would you characterize Horton in the beginning of the story?
Passive? Quiet? Minding his own business? Would you have
initially thought of Horton as a hero of any sort?
c. Do you think Horton’s decision to help the people on the speck of
dust was the moral thing to do? Does this decision make him
heroic? (5-6 minutes)
Developing the Lesson (Film Clip and Diigo Groups): (40 minutes)
1. Now that the students have addressed the concept of heroes in a couple
of ways, the teacher will ask students to consider their conceptions of
what a hero is as they watch a film clip of the Dreamworks movie “Shrek”.
(9-10 minutes)
2. As they watch the movie clip, students will be asked to jot down notes on
a handout with questions.
3. When the clip is over, students will be asked to share some responses to
the handout questions. (2-3 minutes)
4. The teacher will explain how the idea of this unexpected and reluctant
hero is central to The Hobbit. The teacher will also introduce another key
theme, which is the conflict between good and evil, or what is right and
wrong. (2 minutes)
5. The students will then break into their small groups for a Diigo activity.
Diigo accounts and groups will have been set up during a previous class
6. Students will work with their Diigo groups to search online for other
examples of unexpected or reluctant heroes or other resources relevant
to the themes of unexpected heroes or good vs. evil
7. Students will be asked to add at least 5 resources to their Diigo group,
and at least 5 sticky notes for their group members to look at. (20
Concluding the Lesson: (5 minutes)
1. The teacher will ask the students to stay in their groups for a final
activity. Groups will be asked to write one collaborative sentence,
considering everything they saw and found online in class today. The
sentence should contain either a prediction of what they think will be in
store for Bilbo Baggins, or a revision of their definition of what
constitutes a hero. They will work with their group to create this
sentence. (5-6 minutes)
2. The teacher will ask students to keep the themes of heroes and choices
between right and wrong in mind as they begin their reading of The
Hobbit. (1-2 minutes)
3. The teacher will collect the handouts and written responses from the
lesson for 1 participation point each (out of a total of 90 possible for the
semester) (1-2 minutes)
Copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who!”
“Shrek” on DVD or VHS
DVD or VCR or other electronic device by which to play the movie
Copies of Shrek Handout for each student
Computers/internet access for Diigo
Student copies of The Hobbit
During the Lesson:
1. The teacher will conduct evaluation during the lesson by gauging student
participation during class activities.
a. Are the students responding and engaged?
b. Are they actively thinking about and putting forth an effort into
their Diigo contributions?
2. The teacher will also observe students as they work online and on their
a. Are students writing down their thoughts and observations as
they watch the movie?
b. Are students engaged in their work as they move from the
children’s book, to the movie, to their novel?
c. Are students doing what they are supposed to be doing online?
Are they searching only for relevant internet content?
After the Lesson:
1. The teacher will review the work students turned in from the class
a. Do the students seem to have taken the exercises and handouts
seriously and thoughtfully answered the questions?
b. Did the students follow instructions and thoughtfully create a
response to the group activities?
c. Do the Diigo groups reflect effort and understanding of the
assignment? Were students able to effectively post all of their
internet content?
Milner, J. and Milner, L. (2003). Bridging English (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall
Seuss, Dr. Horton Hears a Who!. Random House, 1954. Print.
Shrek. Dir. Andrew Adamson. Dreamworks: 2001, Film.
Tolkien, JRR. The Hobbit. 4th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1937. Print.
“And in the morning, I’m making waffles!”: A Clip from Shrek
1. Does Shrek want to be a hero at first? Is he reluctant at all?
2. Does Shrek have companions once he starts his journeys? How
do they help him or thwart him in his quest?
3. Does Shrek have to make any decisions regarding what is right or
wrong, or good or bad?
4. Does Shrek personify what you imagine when you think of a
hero? What things does he do that make him heroic? What does
he do that makes him not hero-like?
Horton Hears a Who!
On the fifteenth of May, in the jungle of Nool,
In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool,
He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…
When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.
So Horton stopped splashing. He looked towards the sound.
“That’s funny,” thought Horton. “There’s no one around.”
Then he heard it again! Just a very faint yelp
As if some tiny person were calling for help.
“I’ll help you,” said Horton. “But who are you? Where?”
He looked and he looked. He could see nothing there
But a small speck of dust blowing past though the air.
“I say!” murmured Horton. “I’ve never heard tell
Of a small speck of dust that is able to yell.
So you know what I think?…Why, I think that there must
Be someone on top of that small speck of dust!
Some sort of a creature of very small size,
too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes…
“…some poor little person who’s shaking with fear
That he’ll blow in the pool! He has no way to steer!
I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all,
A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
So, gently, and using the greatest of care,
The elephant stretched his great trunk through the air,
And he lifted the dust speck and carried it over
And placed it down, safe, on a very soft clover.
“Humpf!” humpfed a voice. Twas a sour Kangaroo.
And the young kangaroo in he pouch said “Humpf!” too
“Why, that speck is as small as the head of a pin.
A person on that?…why, there never has been!”
“Believe me,” said Horton. “I tell you sincerely,
My ears are quite keen and I heard him quite clearly.
I know there’s a person down there. And, what’s more,
Quite likely there’s two. Even three. Even four.
Quite likely…
“…a family, for all that we know!
A family with children just starting to grow.
So, please,” Horton said, “as a favour to me,
Try not to disturb them. Just let them be.”
“I think you’re a fool!” laughed the sour kangaroo
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said, “Me, too!
You’re the biggest blame fool in the jungle of Nool!”
And the kangaroos plunged in the cool of the pool.
“What terrible splashing!” the elephant frowned.
“I can’t let my very small persons get drowned!
I’ve got to protect them. I’m bigger than they.”
So he plucked up the clover and hustled away.
Through the high jungle tree tops, the news quickly spread:
“He talks to a dust speck! He’s out of his head!
Just look at him walk with that speck on the flower!”
And Horton walked, worrying, almost an hour.
“Should I put this speck down?…” Horton though with alarm.
“If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can’t put it down. And I won’t! After all
A person’s a person. No matter how small.”