ALEX Learning Activity


What Makes a Hero?

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

You may save this Learning Activity to your hard drive as an .html file by selecting “File”,then “Save As” from your browser’s pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.
  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Candice Richardson
System:Boaz City
School:Boaz Middle School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2228
What Makes a Hero?
Digital Tool/Resource:
The Hero's Journey/ReadWriteThink
Web Address – URL:

This learning activity focuses on the traditional hero myth (mono-myth) by asking students to review the characteristics and events typically associated with the motif in mythology and traditional stories. While reviewing the characteristics and events using the Read-Write-Think tool, students test their understanding of each by analyzing and evaluating a current work's application of the characteristics and events.  

This lesson can be used in conjunction with the after learning activity: My Hero's Journey Book Proposal.

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
8 ) Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new. [RL.8.9]

NAEP Framework
Anchor Standard::
Anchor Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Cognitive Target::
Consider Text(s) critically to evaluate the author's perspective or point of view within or across texts, take different perspectives in relation to a text, and compare or connect ideas, problems, or situations.
NAEP Descriptor::
Provide and support an opinion about relation of ideas in story and poem. (Critique and Evaluate)

Learning Objectives:

I can analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events and character types from myths and traditional stories. This includes things such as a hero's unusual birth, call to adventure, supernatural helper, talisman or special weapon, threshold-crossing, trials, triumphs, reconciliation, and return.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

The teacher will need to ...

  • share these directions with the students:
    • With your partner, pick a text from the list below that you are both familiar with. Explore this Read-Write-Think activity to review the general characteristics of the hero's journey. As you read each characteristic’s description, consider whether your chosen text fits that description. The online tool provides blanks for you to brainstorm ideas for your own narrative, but that is not the goal for this activity. Instead, you will record your ideas on your exit slip to demonstrate your understanding of the hero's journey motif and ability to evaluate an author's use of it.  

      • Text Choices: The Giver, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, or By the Waters of Babylon (If none of these are familiar to both you and your partner, ask for help picking something else.)

    • The class will debrief with a discussion of their exit slip findings and how they rated their stories during their partner work.

Assessment Strategies:

The teacher's observations during the partner work and the students' answers to the exit slip should allow the teacher to assess how well the students understand the traditional hero's journey motif to inform his/her next steps in addressing this standard.

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher should:

Variation Tips (optional):

Depending on the students' ability levels, the teacher may want to ...

  • read a short story or picture book using the hero's journey motif with the students before this lesson.
  • model completing the exit slip with 1 or 2 characteristics from the website before beginning the partner work.
  • assist students with the evaluating portion of the exit slip during the partner work.
  • strategically assign partners and/or groups.
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

As students will finish this activity at different times, the teacher may want to share this website with those early finishers to let them explore stories about real-life heroes to share during the class debrief at the end of the activity.

This activity could be combined with these learning activities:


  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: Character Types, Hero, Heroes, Heros Journey, Monomyth, Mythic Hero, Mythology, Traditional Stories