Comparing and Contrasting Greek Myths

Students dive into the world of Greek mythology with the classic myths of Pandora, Arachne, and Echo and Narcissus, and explore how the Greeks used mythology to make sense of their world.

Unit Summary

In this unit students dive into the world of Greek mythology. Over the course of the unit students will read the classic myths of Pandora, Arachne, and Echo and Narcissus. In reading the myths, students will gain a deeper understanding of the gods and mortals in ancient Greece and how the ancient Greeks used mythology as a way to make sense of and interpret the world around them. Students will also continue the thematic exploration from previous units about how a person’s beliefs, ethics, or values influence that person’s behavior.

Over the course of the unit, students will read multiple versions of the classic myths. The primary focus of this unit is on close reading and analyzing the differences among the versions and critically analyzing an author’s choice of genre. In doing so, students will be challenged to think about how the structural elements of different genres, particularly prose, drama, and verse, allow a reader to better understand a story or text. Students will also explore how the point of view in which a story is written, either third-person point of view or first-person point of view, changes the way a story is told and the depth of information that a reader knows. Another focus of this unit is determining the central theme of the myths. Because the stories in this unit are shorter than the novels students have read so far, this unit offers students practice in finding the theme of a shorter text and explaining how the author uses evidence to develop the theme.

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  • Vocabulary Package
  • Fluency Package
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Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit with videos and short readings that cover:

  • Key standards
  • Essential questions
  • Text complexity
  • Monitoring student progress
 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Why was Greek mythology important in ancient Greece? 
  • What lessons can be learned from Greek mythology? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write complete sentences using a variety of constructions

There are no new sentence focus areas in this unit. During this unit students will practice responding to daily Target Task questions using a variety of sentence constructions.

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Draft strong paragraphs that include a strong topic sentence, 3-4 supporting details and a concluding sentence 

There are no new paragraph focus areas in this unit. During this unit students practice all of the strategies they have learned in units one through three in order to draft cohesive paragraphs. We recommend using guidance from Paragraph-Level Feedback and Support (Grades 3-5) to ensure all students are able to write strong paragraphs by the end of the unit. 

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Rewrite a narrative from a different point of view
  • Develop a logical sequence of events
  • Use dialogue and description to develop experiences
  • Use concrete words and phrases
  • Use sensory details 
  • Provide a sense of closure

A main focus of this unit is on rewriting myths from another character’s point of view. In doing so students will practice developing a logical sequence of events, using dialogue and description to develop experiences, using precise details, and providing a sense of closure.

Related Teacher Tools:

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Reads with good expression and enthusiasm throughout the text. 
  • Reading sounds like natural language. 
  • Varies expression and volume to match his/her interpretation of the passage. 
  • Reads smoothly. 
  • Reads with a rate appropriate to task and purpose

The main fluency opportunities in this unit happen on days 5, 11 and 16 when students are reading the drama version of each myth. In order to fully comprehend a drama, students need to be able to read each character's’ lines with the correct expression, enthusiasm and interpretation. Students also need to be able to interpret any stage directions and reflect those in their reading. And, because students will be performing sections of the play, reading smoothly and accurately is important so that listeners can understand. 

Teachers should plan to do fluency checkpoints at several points throughout a unit. Have students grade themselves or a friend on the Reading Fluency Rubric. If a student scores a 2 or lower on any of the sections, we offer some ideas for additional fluency instruction and support in our Fluency Assessment Package.

At the end of each unit, teachers should assess each student using the unit’s fluency assessment found in the Fluency Assessment Package. This assessment is quick. Teachers should plan to pull students one-on-one to do this while the rest of the class is independently reading or writing.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Build on partner's ideas. Students seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying, and then build on. 
  • Paraphrase to make meaning. Students paraphrase what others are saying in order to keep track of the key ideas in a discussion. 
  • Questioning and clarifying. Students seek to clarify a particular point a student makes by asking follow up questions. 

In unit three, students began to move beyond their own reasoning and began to respond and interact with the reasoning of others. They learned how to listen to and learn from from their peers, and began to refine and clarify their own thinking  based on others' ideas. In this unit students continue to refine and clarify their own thinking based on others' ideas. 

When building on to partner's ideas, students should seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying and build on. Ideas should not be random, disconnected, or replace a previous idea. Rather, ideas should zoom in on a particular idea that was said, make a connection between a previous idea and a new idea, or challenge a particular part of an idea. Students should also begin to paraphrase what others are saying in order to keep track of the key ideas in a discussion. This involves listening carefully to a speaker, organizing the speaker's points, inferring which points are important, and then putting it all in one's own words. Finally, students work on seeking to clarify a particular points a student made by asking follow-up questions.

Guidance on teacher moves to support these discussion focuses can be found in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below).

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

"beauty is only skin deep" "blow hot and cold" "curiosity killed the cat" "open Pandora's box" appalled awe bad-tempered boost chorus companion conceited cope decreed deceiving declare despair echo enraged endure exquisite fate inexcusable infatuation misery mortal narrator perished pity rage reflection resist seldom sorrow spiteful surpass suffer temptation transform vain vanity

Root/Affix

-ful -tion in-

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

With Fishtank Plus, you can download the Fluency Package for this unit, which includes a unit-specific fluency assessment passage and additional tools to help monitor and support students’ reading fluency. Download Sample

Lesson Map

1

  • McElderry... pp. 1 – 5 — Prometheus

    RL.4.2

Summarize what happened to Prometheus.

2

  • McElderry... pp. 6 – 12 — Pandora's Box

    RL.4.2

Summarize what happens in Pandora’s Box.

3

  • I am Arachne pp. 6 – 10

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.6

Analyze how the speaker’s point of view in Pandora influences how events are described.

4

  • Echo Echo — Pandora and the Box

    RL.4.5

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.7

Explain how the speaker’s perspective of Pandora changes from one poem to the next.

5Essential Task

  • Myth Plays pp. 23 – 27

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.5

Describe how the author uses structural elements of drama to retell what happens in “Pandora’s Box.”

6

Discussion & Writing

  • I am Arachne pp. 6 – 10

  • Myth Plays pp. 23 – 27

  • McElderry...

  • Echo Echo

    RL.4.5

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.7

    RL.4.9

    W.4.1

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

    SL.4.1.d

Explain how comparing different forms of a literary text helps build a deeper understanding of the text and its major themes.  Analyze which author’s craft decisions or structures have the greatest influence on how events are described.

7

Narrative Writing

    W.4.3.d

    L.4.1.d

    L.4.3.a

Rewrite the myth from Epimetheus’ point of view.

8

  • McElderry... pp. 30 – 35

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.6

Summarize what happened in “Arachne”.

9

  • I am Arachne pp. 2 – 5

    RL.4.2

Explain what lesson Arachne learns and how she learns it. 

10

  • Echo Echo — Arachne and Athena

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.7

Explain how the point of view differs from one poem to another.

11

  • Myth Plays pp. 48 – 51

    RL.4.5

Explain how the author uses the structural elements of drama to retell the story of Arachne.

12Essential Task

Discussion & Writing

  • I am Arachne pp. 2 – 5

  • Myth Plays pp. 48 – 51

  • McElderry...

  • Echo Echo

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.5

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.7

    RL.4.9

    W.4.1

Explain how comparing different forms of a literary text helps build a deeper understanding of the text and which author’s craft decisions or structures have the greatest influence on how events are described.

13

Narrative Writing

    RL.4.6

    W.4.3.a

    W.4.3.b

Rewrite the myth Arachne from Athena’s point of view.

14Essential Task

  • McElderry... pp. 22 – 29

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Summarize “Echo and Narcissus.”

15

  • I am Arachne pp. 36 – 42

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.3

Defend if Narcissus learns his lesson.

16

  • Echo Echo — Narcissus and Echo

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.7

Explain how the point of view differs from one poem to another.

17

  • Myth Plays pp. 21 – 25

    RL.4.3

    RL.4.5

Identify and explain which parts of the story are highlighted in the drama.

18

Discussion & Writing

  • I am Arachne pp. 37 – 44

  • Myth Plays pp. 28 – 33

  • Echo Echo

  • McElderry...

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.5

    RL.4.6

    RL.4.9

    W.4.1

    SL.4.1

Explain how comparing different forms of a literary text helps build a deeper understanding of the text and which author’s craft decisions or structures have the greatest influence on how events are described.

19

Narrative Writing

    W.4.3.d

    L.4.1.d

    L.4.3.a

Rewrite the myth Echo and Narcissus from Narcissus’ point of view.

20

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    RL.4.2

    RL.4.9

    W.4.1

    SL.4.1

    SL.4.1.c

    SL.4.1.d

    SL.4.3

Analyze how a theme or topic is treated in each of the myths from the unit by comparing and contrasting the treatment of similar themes and topics.

21

Assessment

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4 days

Narrative Writing

    W.4.3.a

    W.4.3.b

    W.4.3.d

    W.4.3.e

    L.4.3.a

Revise and edit a narrative from earlier in the unit.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.4.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.4.1.d — Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

  • L.4.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.4.3 — Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

  • L.4.3.a — Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.4.2 — Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

  • RL.4.3 — Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

  • RL.4.5 — Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

  • RL.4.6 — Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

  • RL.4.7 — Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

  • RL.4.9 — Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.4.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.4.1.c — Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

  • SL.4.1.d — Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.4.3 — Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.

Writing Standards
  • W.4.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  • W.4.3 — Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

  • W.4.3.a — Orient the reader by establishing a situationand introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

  • W.4.3.b — Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.

  • W.4.3.d — Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.

  • W.4.3.e — Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Sprial Standards

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L.4.1

L.4.1.b

L.4.1.d

L.4.1.f

L.4.1.g

L.4.2

L.4.2.a

L.4.2.b

L.4.2.c

L.4.2.d

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RL.4.1

RL.4.10

RL.4.4

SL.4.1

SL.4.5

SL.4.6

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9