Sunday, October 16, 2016

Year 8 And The Hero's Journey

This week I gave my students a break from Australian Identity, which really needs to be finished, but has been rather dragging on. The kids are pretty good, but I'd rather have them doing something because they're interested than because it's compulsory. And we haven't done much writing this term - some, but not a lot. And I had to sneak it into the Identity thing.

So I decided to try The Hero's Journey, which worked quite well with a previous class. Last Thursday I gathered them in the Interactive Whiteboard Room, where we show film texts and documentaries, do presentations and such, and began by an explanation of what The Hero's Journey is - a simplified explanation, basically that a guy called Joseph Campbell said that most adventures boil down to the same story outline. We watched trailers for a number of movies that fitted the bill. I asked them if they could think of any, but only one of them came up with something that fitted. I began to wonder if I should do the follow-up, but thought, no, I had told them that today they would be doing some writing and they were going to do it! Otherwise, we might as well just go back to the unit of work we were having to do.

Today, I printed out and enlarged the template I've prepared, with elements of the Journey, simplified because I want them to be able to use it. The whole point is to write a story, with the outline to help.

I also found an example online of how you can use the Hero's Journey even for as simple and silly a story as a boy going out at night to find his lost cat and getting it down from a tree.

We spent the whole of our first session working together on the board, using our film text, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, as the example. They got the idea and answered how various elements of the film fitted into the elements of the Journey.

This afternoon, at our second session, I handed out templates and asked them to work in groups to come up with a story outline using them. I assured them that I didn't mind how silly the stories were, as long as they used the elements of the template.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they really had got the hang of it. It's a small class and four boys worked together to produce a very silly story outline about Hillary Clinton and a Mexican boy who helped her win the Presidency. But it fulfilled the requirements and I told the boys well done.

The girls came up with something a bit more serious, which convinced me that when they have to do a proper story on their own, they will be able to do it.

I did one myself, but hadn't had the chance to read it when the bell went for their next class. Hopefully, Thursday they will be able to create a basic story each. Fingers crossed!

I have also handed out their class magazine, which was put together from the work they did in Term 2 and some of last term. It was not too bad, considering all the fiddling around we had to do, and that I had to make the cover and table of contents. I asked them not to take a copy unless they actually wanted it - I really don't want to find crumpled pages lying around the schoolyard. But everybody took one, so that was nice.

I haven't found any crumpled pages yet!


Rachna Chhabria said...

I have heard of The Hero's Journey. Would like to go through it.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I see from your profile you teach creative writing. It works for that too. I used it last year for my creative writing class. It can be adapted for whichever type of students you have. I work with teens, but you could also use it with adults.

Sharon Himsl said...

Hi Sue. Just returning the visit you made to my blog recently. I blog so seldom these days I'm surprised anyone stops by. The Hero's Journey sounds like a good learning tool. Most relate to Indiana Jones, kids and adults!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Sharon! I have a dashboard of blogs I follow and if they're of interest I open the posts. And yours usually are. You post and I'll drop in. :)

The Heto's Journey has been a very useful teaching tool for me, especially as the theme of our Year 8 English is "adventure." This year I have Year 7, which doesn't really have a theme, but they have to write stories and our film text is City Of Ember, which is certainly an adventure. We'll see if I can fit the Hero's Journey into that.