Unit Plan
Created by Maureen Dowd and Tana Ferris
Grade 8- Fanfiction and Mythology
English Language Arts
Timeline: 5 Weeks

UNIT DESCRIPTION
In this three week unit, students will learn about characters from Greek and Roman mythology and will use fanfiction to expand their understanding of a mythological character. There are several goals for the students in this unit. They include students becoming proficient at writing fanfiction, becoming members of a participatory culture by sharing ideas and feedback, and becoming familiar with mythology. Although all forms of fanfiction will be introduced to the class, this unit will focus on alternate reality fanfiction. Students will create an alternate reality story using a character from mythology and inserting him or her into a story of their choice. They will post their stories to the class wiki, where they will be available for other students to comment on them. Students will also use Glogster to create a visual representation of the character they selected. This unit incorporates history, reading, and writing.

Fanfiction is comprised of various genres such as missing scenes, alternate perspective, alternate universe, alternate realities, sequel, prequel, and self insert. All of these genres will be introduced during forty minutes a day over the course of two weeks. Although the class will be introduced to all types of fanfiction, they will focus on alternate reality fanfiction. Students will utilize the writing skills they learned in school; however, this unit offers real-life learning experiences because the emphasis is not on obtaining the “right” or “correct” answer, but rather focuses on the creative process of developing a story. The teacher serves as a facilitator, administering short lessons where needed, modeling, and offering feedback when necessary. He or she is not the sole authority imparting information to the students; students are offered opportunities to collaborate and confer, much the same as they do outside the classroom.

STANDARDS

RL.8.9. 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.

W.8.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
  • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another, and show the relationships among experiences and events.
  • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.
  • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

W.8.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

W.8.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

W.8.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

L.8.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences.
  • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.
  • Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.
  • Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.

L.8.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.
  • Use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.
  • Spell correctly.


KEYWORDS:Greek gods and goddesses, creation myths, heroes, nature myths, plot, setting, characters, fanfiction, Glogster, wiki

OBJECTIVES
Students will:
  • Read a variety of myths, both online and in print
  • Identify various mythological gods and goddesses
  • Compare and contrast various myths
  • Relate myths to popular culture
  • create a representation of a god or goddess on Glogster
  • Collaborate with peers on mythology fanfiction project
  • Create a fanfiction crossover project
  • Post project to the class wiki
  • Provide constructive feedback to peers regarding projects
  • Edit fanfiction projects


TECHNOLOGY
Internet
Word processing
Wiki

SUPPLEMENTARY RESOURCES
Print
Greek Myths by Olivia Coolidge
Heros, Gods, and Monsters of Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin
Gods, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece by W.H.D. Rouse
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Online
www.fanfiction.net
Includes Greek mythology fan fiction, crossover stories, and discussion boards.
www.fictionpress.com/fiction/mythology
Collection of fanfiction related to mythology.

http://library.thinkquest.org/13238/
Information on each god and goddess that could be used as a reference.

http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/Mythology.htm
Summaries of myths from around the world as well as information about different gods and goddesses by category.

http://www.theoi.com/
Resource including popular myths and characters. It also includes representations of mythological figures in art and literature.

www.edu.glogster.com
The students will use this site to create the visual representation of their character. A single license for up to 50 students is free.

http://www.mythweb.com/gods/index.html
This website can be found under the Mythology link at www.webenglishteacher.com, and is divided into the categories of Gods, Heroes, Today, and Encyclopedia. The website offers descriptions of the gods, mythology’s relevance today, various heroes with short and detailed versions of their stories, as well as an encyclopedia with an index ranging from A through Z, with information on mythology.


ACTIVITIES
Week 1&2
Days 1-2
The teacher will introduce mythology to the class by having students listen to a Podcast on mythology by Rick Riordan. Riodan speaks about his interest in mythology and the impact it has made on his life. In his podcast, he shares that mythology was the impetus for his book, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief. After students have had a chance to listen to and comment on this podcast, the teacher will introduce myths. The students will then examine the relevance of myths in contemporary culture. They will connect ways that mythology influences the world around them, from names of places, architecture, and everyday places mythology is found.

Days 3-14
Students will read selected myths in print and online. They will be given ample time in class to visit mythology websites and familiarize themselves with different myths. After they spend a few days reading different myths, the class will discuss their findings by summarizing, analyzing, and comparing and contrasting creation myths from Greek and Roman mythology.

End of Week 2 - At the end of week two, students will select a god or goddess that captures their interest to focus on for their Glogster online poster. The poster will be a visual representation of the selected god or goddess, including images, contemporary references to that god, labels and descriptors. The poster will be due at the end of week two. On day fourteen, students will share posters with classmates to better familiarize themselves with mythological figures other than the one they have selected. The teacher will use the Glogster Rubric to assess students’ work.

Week 3
Day 1
The teacher will introduce fanfiction to the class by perusing fanfiction websites and discussing different types of fanfiction. Fanfiction websites are blocked in some schools, but by advising the technology supervisor to allow access to the specific sites to be utilized in class, can bypass this obstacle. The teacher will first show examples of fanfiction missing scenes, alternate universe, alternate perspective, sequel, prequel, self insert, and then crossover or alternate reality fanfiction in preparation for projects. This forty minute lesson will serve as an overview of the various genres of fanfiction. Students will join the class wiki.

Day 2
Students will review the different genres of fanfiction presented in the previous lesson. Then, students will review alternate reality fanfiction in more depth. Students will discuss elements of alternate reality fanfiction. The teacher will emphasize that fanfiction realities is a genre whereby a character is taken from a novel and brought in to another “world.” The teacher will model this type of fanfiction by taking a character from a novel the class has read and placing them into another venue. Students will be reminded that they are to hand in their fanfiction crossover idea by the end of day three. They will have additional time in class to formulate and discuss ideas in a group of four. Group members will be given four days to comment on each other’s fanfiction crossover project. In order to ensure that all students’ work is commented on, each group of four is instructed to comment on the work of each member in the group. Comments should include detailed feedback and suggestions for improvements to the story.

Days 3-5
The students will utilize the “Source Material for Alternate Reality Fanfiction” worksheet to submit their fanfiction alternate reality idea to the teacher at the end of the period. Day four, students will begin writing their fanfiction crossover projects utilizing laptops, by incorporating chosen god or goddess into another work: video game, television show, novel, movie, etc. The Glogster poster they created should provide a starting point as to what important traits of the god or goddess should be incorporated into the story. Students will collaborate in heterogeneous groups of four, offering constructive feedback to group members. Each student will publish their creative work on the class wiki. Each student will then be given time during class to revise their projects. They will edit their crossover project, incorporating comments and commentary from group members, and post to the class wiki by the end of week three, day five. The teacher will utilize the Fanfiction Rubric to assess students’ work.

Differentiated Instruction
According to Black (2005), in her article, Access and affiliation: The literacy and composition practices of English-language learners in an online fanfiction community, fanfiction is defined as “original works of fiction based on forms of popular media such as television, movies, books, music, and video games” (p. 118). Considering the diversity in schools today, fanfiction is beneficial in that it allows for the authentic creation of a product. While Black’s article focuses on the anime series of Card Captor Sakura, she found that the “interface of fanfiction.netis beneficial in understanding how this digital space offers ELL’s multiple means of establishing their legitimacy as fans and affiliating themselves with the fanfiction community” (2005, p. 121). It is essential that English language learners, special education students, and basic skills students have a space they can write, critique, and participate in an online community, as well as utilize the multimodality of fanfiction to succeed in their writing, and possibly excel.
Ideally, support systems already in place within the school would help accommodate English language learners and students who receive basic skills. The support staff could work in a push-in model to help students who need support. Modifications could also be made to the assignment based on the needs of individual students. Rather than write an entire story, students could focus on writing just one extended scene. They could also be given the option to analyze a modern work, such as Disney’s Hercules or Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, to see how mythology is incorporated and post their findings to the class blog. Having a peer “expert” as a resource or additional guidance and time with the teacher might also be helpful.


APPENDIX
1. Glogster Rubric
2.Source Material for Alternate Reality Fanfiction- to be submitted to the teacher for approval
3. Fanfiction Rubric


1.
Name:
Date:

Mythological Character:

Glogster Rubric

Category
4
3
2
1
Required Elements (character, modern reference, labels, descriptors)
The Glog includes all required elements as well as additional information.
The Glog includes all required elements.
One or two of the required elements are missing.
Three or more required elements are missing.
Graphics
All graphics are related to the topic and make the Glog easy to read and understand.
Most of the graphics relate to the topic and make it easy to understand.
Few graphics relate to the topic.
No graphics relate to the topic.
Design
The Glog is exceptionally neat and has an attractive design and layout.
The Glog has a thoughtful design and layout and is neat.
The Glog is fairly attractive.
The Glog is poorly designed and very messy.
Grammar
There are no grammatical errors.
There are one or two grammatical errors.
There are three or four grammatical errors.
There are more than four grammatical errors.

2.
Name:
Date:

Source Material for Alternate Reality Fanfiction


1. What mythological character will you be writing about?





2. Give a brief description of this character from the myths we have read in class. What are some important traits?





3. What is the name of the source material for your story? Is it a movie, tv show, video game, etc?





4. Give a brief description of the story and characters from your source material.




3.
Name:
Date:

Mythological Character:
Source Material:
Fanfiction Rubric

Category
4
3
2
1
Organization
The story is well organized. The sequence is logical.
For the most part, the story is organized. One scene may seem out of place.
The story is hard to follow.
Ideas and scenes are not organized and do not follow any logical sequence.
Mythological Character
The mythological character is deeply incorporated into the story line, including many of his/her unique traits and characteristics.
Most of the story includes the mythological character. Some of his/her unique traits are included.
The character is part of some of the action in the story. Few traits are apparent.
The mythological character does not seem to be an important part of the story. No identifying traits are used.
Creativity
The story includes many imaginative details and descriptions that contribute to the story.
The story contains some creative details and descriptions.
The story contains a few creative details and descriptions.
There is little evidence of creativity or original thought.
Grammar
There are no grammatical errors.
There are one or two grammatical errors.
There are three or four grammatical errors.
There are more than four grammatical errors.
Comments on Peer Fanfiction
Comments are constructive and offer detailed feedback and suggestions.
Comments offer some suggestions for improvement.
Comments offer very little constructive feedback.
Comments are incomplete or unrelated to the work.

RATIONALE
Using new literacies as part of a well constructed curriculum has tremendous benefits and can actually help students learn reading and writing skills in a way that is meaningful and valuable to them. There is still a need for a certain set of basic skills and they are incorporated into this fanfiction unit. “Textual literacy remains a central skill in the twenty-first century. Youths must expand their required competencies, not push aside old skills to make room for the new” (Jenkins, 2006, p.28). Participating in a class wiki, writing fanfiction, and creating a visual representation using Glogster represent ways to expand the skill sets of students. Black (2009) also points out that “contemporary contexts require a flexible skill set that extends beyond print-based literacy to include navigating new technologies; using digital tools to communicate, form relationships, and collaborate across contexts; [and] designing and sharing information via digital texts.”(p. 75) Going beyond just becoming literate, students must now be digitally literate in order to compete in a changing workplace that requires a new set of skills.

Jenkins (2006) argues that the new media literacies that are critical skills for success in today’s world should be taught through a carefully planned curriculum rather than just allowing students to figure things out through trial and error in their leisure time (p. 4). The assumption among many parents and educators is that these skills are things that kids will just pick up by playing around with different software and programs. However, engaging in participatory cultures does “not simply represent ‘entertainment’ or ‘distraction.’ These practices are important gateways into larger learning cultures that help support young people as they construct their identities and navigate their social surroundings” (Knobel & Lankshear, 2010, p. 231). That is why creating a participatory culture in the classroom is so vital.

Jenkins (2006) points out that literacy is changing from an individual pursuit to one that involves communities (p.4). Brown and Adler (2008) believe that the most important difference the internet makes in our lives is providing the capacity for social learning. “Social learning is based on the premise that our understanding of content is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions. The focus is not so much on what we are learning but on how we are learning” (p. 17). The aim in this unit is to create a classroom atmosphere that promotes collaboration and social learning.

In this new literacy of fanfiction, there are some critical skills that students need which have been incorporated into this unit. These skills include, but are not limited to, appropriation, collective intelligence, transmedia navigation, and networking. Students must become competent in these areas in order to fully participate in the community and, as they get older, the workplace. “Injecting digital technologies into the classroom necessarily affects our relationship with every other communications technology, changing how we feel about what can or should be done with pencils and paper, chalk and blackboard, books, films, and recordings” (Jenkins, 2006, p.8). Incorporating digital literacies and fostering participation changes the entire dynamic of the classroom and motivates students to participate and create. Teachers should “build on pupils’ experiences of digital literacy in popular culture, encouraging them to make connections between everyday meaning making and the school curriculum” (Merchant, 2005, p.52). Being a part of this classroom community while working on their fanfiction will encourage students to become active participants in the unit. “Fan fiction provides a means for fans to actively contribute modern mediascapes to make media more congruent with their expectations and life worlds” (Black, 2009, p. 77). Students can support each other as they work to develop an understanding of mythology. They will also be able to relate mythology to their own lives by using a storyline they are interested in from popular culture.

Participating in blogs, wikis, and fanfiction sites are examples of ways that adolescents and teens are bringing traditional literacy practices into a new environment. “Borrowing settings, plots, characters and ideas from all forms of media and popular culture, fans weave together new tales” to create what is referred to as fan fiction (Thomas, 2006, p.137). Being able to understand the complexities of settings, plot, and characters is an integral part of comprehension. Taking these elements apart and recombining them shows a deep understanding of their importance in a story. Writing fanfiction provides scaffolding for developing writers. Teens who participate in fanfiction sites participate in the process of “composition, peer review, and revision. Many fans engage in meta-discussion of writing and reading related topics, such as how to effectively integrate dialogue into stories, how to ‘show, not tell’ when writing, and how to provide effective peer feedback on stories, to name just a few” (Black, 2009, p. 77). This closely resembles the writing process that is traditionally taught to most students in school. Writing fan fiction provides a different, more inspiring, means to teach these lessons. By reading and editing their peers’ work, students also become more aware of how they can improve their own work. “Online blogging communities such as LiveJournal and sites such as Fanfiction.net have become more than repositories of Fanfiction; they are communities of readers and writers who provide commentary, share enthusiasm, offer proofreading, and collaborate on creative pieces” (Shamburg, 2008, p. 50). The aim of this unit is to harness the culture that already exists online and bring it into the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to comment on each other’s work and give constructive feedback. This will allow students to learn from their peers, not just from the teacher, as is the case in the traditional classroom model. “This new form of learning begins with the knowledge and practices acquired in school but is equally suited for continuous, lifelong learning that extends beyond formal schooling” (Brown & Adler, 2008, p. 31).

Peer editing, drafting, and revising are not new skills for students; however, bringing these skills into the 21st century by allowing students to actively participate in each other’s work is essential because it is what they are doing outside the classroom. Offering the students the flexibility to explore online communities and write for a larger audience is essential to prepare them to participate globally in the workplace. Teachers must focus on creating lifelong learners and this fanfiction unit is one building block toward that goal. Learning new information and skills through collaboration will encourage students to go further, learn more, and hopefully foster the desire to become lifelong learners.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Black, R. W. (2005) Access and affiliation: The literacy and composition practices of English-language learners in an online fanfiction community. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 49(2), 118-128.

Black, R. (2009). Online fan fiction and critical media literacy. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 26 (2), 75-80.

Brown, J. Seely & Adler, R. (2008). Minds on Fire:Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educause (January/February): 17-32.

Jenkins, H. with R. Purushotma, K. Clinton, M. Weigel, & A. Robison (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Meda Education for the 21st Century. Occasional Paper. Boston,MA: MIT/MacArthur Foundation.

Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (eds.) (2010). DIY Media: Sharing Creating and Learning with New Media. New York: Peter Lang.

Merchant, G. (2005). Digikids: cool dudes and the new writing. E-Learning 2 (1), 50-60.



Thomas, A. (2006) Blurring and breaking through the boundaries of narrative, literacy, and identity in adolescent fan fiction. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), A new literacies sampler (pp. 137-164). New York: Peter Lang.



Shamburg, C. (2008). English Language Arts: Units for Grades 9-12. Eugene, OR: ISTE.