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The Queen of Sheba
Shangri-La
King Arthur
Jason & the Argonauts

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Introduction
The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece is a classic Greek tale with all of the traditional elements of a Greek myth. The characterization and setting are particularly important to the plot of the story. The story of Jason is largely dependent on geography and has changed over time as knowledge of the physical world has increased. It explains the founding of any shoreline communities as well as including a main character that has the charisma and traits necessary to perform superhuman tasks. In addition, the story provides readers with the classic triangle of dark power, hero, and female helper. It provides a unique way to study characterization and setting, two key elements of a great story, and discuss how the basic premise and storyline in the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece compares to some of our favorite modern classics such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones, among others.

Grade Level
7-12

Subject Areas
Language Arts, Mythology, History, and Drama

Lesson Objectives
Students will be able to:

  1. Utilize group work skills and brainstorming techniques to generate ideas about the qualities and characteristics of the story elements characterization and plot.
  2. Participate in class discussions about characterization, plot, and setting and compare these elements in mythology and modern works of literature, film, and television.
  3. Utilize critical viewing skills and note-taking strategies to answer questions related to Jason and the Golden Fleece.
  4. Use what they have learned about Jason and the Golden Fleece and the elements of a story to complete group projects where they retell the story of Jason in a modern setting or choose a favorite modern-day story and retell it using a mythological Greek setting.
  5. Share their completed projects with classmates.

Relevant National Standards from Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) available at http://www.mcrel.org

Historical Understanding

Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective.

Language Arts

Writing:
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
Standard 2: Uses the stylistics and rhetorical aspects of writing.
Standard 3: Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions.

Reading:
Standard 6: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of literary texts.

Listening and Speaking:
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Viewing:
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Thinking and Reasoning:

Standard 3: Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.

Working With Others

Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group.
Standard 4: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.
Standard 5: Demonstrates leadership skills.

Estimated Time
Approximately two 90-minute or three 45-minute class periods

Materials Needed

  • Internet access
  • Television/VCR/DVD player to view the Myths and Heroes: Jason and the Golden Fleece episode (Visit PBS Shop for ordering information.)
  • Note-taking Guide
  • chart paper
  • various colored markers
  • art supplies for use with project completion (optional)
  • desktop publishing or word processing software/computers for project completion (optional)

Assumed Student Prior Knowledge
Students will need to have a basic understanding of myths and how they have been perpetuated for thousands of years and have continued to be part of even our modern culture. They will also need to understand the essential elements of a story including setting, characterization, and plot.

Teaching Strategy

  1. Place students in small groups and give them several large sheets of chart paper. Have them write the word Superheroes at the top of the page. Tell groups to begin working by listing all of the famous superheroes they can think of from modern movies, television, and literature. This should take approximately five minutes.
  2. Next, direct students to use a second sheet of paper and label it Characteristics of a Superhero. Provide students with five minutes to list as many qualities and traits as they can.
  3. Facilitate a short class discussion (three to five minutes) about why the stories of superheroes are so popular among people of all ages. As a class, list on the board or overhead what makes a great superhero story.
  4. Access the companion web site's What is a Myth link at http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_what.html, and discuss how the essay defines a myth. Compare what the essay says about the characteristics of a myth and what is has in common with a good superhero story according to the class brainstorming.
  5. Using the Living Legends link from the companion website at http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/legends.html, work as a class to take the quiz so that students can see the link between modern stories and the ancient mythology of the world.
  6. Distribute the Note-taking Guide for students to use as they prepare to view Jason and the Golden Fleece.
  7. Access the Four Stories link of the companion website at http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_jason.html and have students watch the clip that describes how Michael Wood travels to Georgia to see how the traditions of the myth of "Jason and the Golden Fleece" are still carried out today by the local people. Conduct a quick survey to see how many students are familiar with the story already.
  8. Go back to the Note-taking Guide and review the various topics listed with students. Explain that it will be their job to take notes about each topic as they view Jason and the Golden Fleece.
  9. View Jason and the Golden Fleece as a class. Stop a key points to discuss content that could be recorded on the Note-taking Guide along with questions that students have.
  10. When viewing is complete, send students back to their small groups so they can see their previous brainstorming and facilitate a class discussion that includes questions such as:
    • Looking back at your description of the characteristics of a superhero, which of these did Jason possess? Give specific examples to document this.
    • Looking back at your list of modern superheroes, which characters most resemble Jason? Give specific examples to support your ideas.
    • Looking back at the qualities the class said that good superhero stories possessed, which of these qualities did you see in Jason and the Golden Fleece? Support your ideas with specific examples from the film.
    • Setting is a key element in most stories. Discuss how the setting of Jason and the Golden Fleece is important to the plot of the story. Thinking back to the Living Legends that Jason is compared to, discuss the importance of setting in the plots of those stories as well. How would all of the stories be less enjoyable if the setting were different?
  11. Send students back to their small groups to work on one of the project choices described below. Explain that they will need to work as a group to produce the final story and share it with the class. Stories can take on a variety of formats including: a narrative, a play that the students can act out with minimal props and using only the members of the group, a narrative poem, or a comic book. Students should choose one of the projects described below to complete with their group.
    • Option 1: Rewrite the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece using a completely different setting. It must take place in modern times.
    • Option 2: Choose one of the Living Legends mentioned on the website or one of the superheroes from your brainstorming who possesses the same qualities and characteristics as Jason. Retell the story as an ancient Greek myth using a setting and gods and goddesses that are prevalent in Greek mythology.
  12. When group projects are completed, have students share their work with classmates.

Assessment Suggestions

  1. Have students work in their small group to create a scoring guide they will use to evaluate the projects presented by the other groups. They must include the elements of a story that were the focus of the class discussions (characterization and setting) as well as the other items specified in the project guidelines for creating their scoring guide. They should practice using the guide to evaluate their own group project.
  2. Have each student write a short description of what they did to facilitate the creation and presentation of the group project. Have each student evaluate the quality of his/her work and write a paragraph that explains the grade s/he feels was earned on the project.
  3. Have students write a two or three paragraph summary about what they learned about the essential elements of a story from completing the assignment. Topics and ideas to discuss could include how varying the setting can change the story, the importance of setting in a story, how the character traits of a "hero" have remained similar since mythological times, what makes a great "hero" story, etc. Assign a completion grade for this exercise.

Extension Ideas

  1. Use the stories created by the class to teach other classes or younger students about Greek mythology and the elements of a story, particularly characterization and setting and their importance in the plot of a story.
  2. Share the stories written by the various groups with your school's drama class or club and have them produce one of them in the form of a school play.
  3. Invite parents or students from other classrooms to come to a Twisted Stories session where students can share their work and receive feedback.

Online Resources

In Search of Myths and Heroes PBS companion site to the program http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes

Mythweb: The Story of Jason and the Argonauts
http://www.mythweb.com/heroes/jason/

Mythnet: The Quest for the Golden Fleece
http://www.classicsunveiled.com/mythnet/html/quest.html

Jason and the Golden Fleece
http://mmtaylor.net/Holiday2000/Legends/Jason.html

 

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