Archives For Rick Riordan

There are more than 30 copies of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology in the Wamogo English Department Library; they are ancient, yellowing slowly in the catacombs of the bookroom, yet these copies are still a valuable resource for a student who may want to read about Greek and Roman Mythology. There is a patchwork collection of Homer’s Odyssey:  a class set of a prose re-telling  (McCaughrean) of the Odyssey, 25 very battered copies of the Richard Lattimore translation, and five highly prized copies of Robert Fitzgerald’s translation.  Two years ago we added a dozen copies of two books from Scholastic Mythopedia: O My Gods and She’s All That!: A Look-It-Up Guide to the Goddesses of Olympus. Like many schools, we have a mixed selection of materials in our resource library for Greek and Roman mythology.

Independent reading books added to the mythology book shelves tend to be those which”modernize” the myths. We have added 20 copies of books in Rick Riordan’s series Percy Jackson and the Olympians through the used book markets. The five books in the series follow a teenager who discovers he’s the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods. There are five books in this series and they are very popular with students. In addition, our school hosted a visit from the author Neal Schusterman two years ago, so copies of his modern version of the Medusa story, Dreadlocks, were made available for students. Over the past five years, our total cost for new materials in the mythology unit have been minimal.

Screenshot of page: All text and images on this site are copyright 1993-2011 Mythweb. Published by Fleet Gazelle. Students can click on the link and read the adventures of any of the heroes from the Ancient World.

However, if there was not a single book on the Greek and Roman gods in our classroom libraries, teaching a unit on Greek and Roman mythology would still be possible.There are a plethora of resources on the Internet for any teacher looking to teach mythology today.

One of the best resources we used was Mythweb, a site that is “kid friendly” for students and teachers. The author of the site Joel Skidmore and Advisor: William Saturno operate the site from the “real world” location of San Francisco, CA. Clever graphics depict the characters from Greek mythology; easy to read text makes th myths understandable to all levels of readers. Our students read the biographies of the gods and goddesses, and also many of the different myths on this site.

Another site that provided a great number of resources on myths is the History for Kids website. This site is a little less secure with pop-up ads, but the stories of human interaction with the gods and goddesses (Arachne, Pandora, Icarus) are all there with easy to read text that is interactive with links to background information.

This year, there were no quizzes or tests on the mythology materials. Instead, the final assessment for the mythology unit was a project titled “A Holiday Dinner Party with the Greek Gods and Goddesses.” The students were provided a graphic of a rectangle table with twelve seats positioned around the table. The assignment prompt read:

“Congratulations! You have been hired as a party planner by Dionysus, Greek god of wine, for a formal dinner on Mount Olympus.

One of your responsibilities is to set up the seating plans for one of the tables at the dinner party.

For this assignment, you need to demonstrate your ability to place six (6) gods or goddesses and six (6) mortals at a table that seats 12. You may choose the gods, goddesses, and mortals from the myths we have studied and from the Pantheon, however, you must have reasons as to why you would place these characters next to each other.”

The students were required to write a short paragraph explaining each seat placement, label the seating plan, and to design an invitation using any medium they wanted.

Some of the responses from students demonstrated diplomatic tendencies with careful placement of all mortals and deities in order to not offend.

One student suggested,”On the other side of Aphrodite is Ares. They were not only good friends but they had a fling a few different times!”

Another noted, ” Demeter is the goddess of agriculture and I put her next to Apollo to heal the crops and Poseidon to water them. They should be good friends if he meets with her to water his crops. ”

Other students had a “reality show” approach where classical antagonists are purposely placed in order to engage them in conflict. For example, “Arachne is next to Pandora. Arachne thought she was the best at everything and she thought she was the most beautiful person and no one was better than her. She was wrong though because since her attitude was so bad, she ended up turning ugly. They both think they’re always right and because of that I think it would make a good conversation at the dinner table.

Another wrote, “Next, Eros is next to Aphrodite and Psyche. It will be good to put these three next to each other because Aphrodite is furious at Eros for making it so he and Psyche were in love. It should cause a good fight and that would be fun to see. Also he is next to Psyche because they are in love.”

Finally, a student moralized, “Pandora next to Persephone because like Persephone who did not do as she was told neither Pandora when she was told not to open the box she did.  When you don’t follow direction bad things happen.”

The project was completed right after the Thanksgiving break when students had several days to experience their own celebrations. We considered how their decisions on seating the Greek gods and goddesses may have been influenced by holiday dinner with family relatives.Apparently, there is nothing more risky than a family get-together, for mortals or immortals!

As I anticipated, The Westport Book Sale offered the variety of texts I need to create the “book flood” in my classrooms. After two hours of “grazing” through three tents of books, I had another 10 bags of books to add to the department’s collections for grades 7-12. A quick breakdown of titles included:

Adding to mystery unit

Grades 7 & 8: Copies of The Giver by Lois Lowrey (6) , The Schwa Was Here by Neil Shusterman (2), and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (4).  All these are core texts. I also found a copy of the London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd which is a great mystery for this age level. I am considering getting a set of 20 to add to our 8th grade mystery unit, but I would like some student feedback first.

Grade 9: The curriculum for 9th grade is centered around independent reading and choice, but there are units devoted to Greek/Roman Mythology and Anglo-Saxon legends such as King Arthur. I did find a dozen assorted copies of The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters and The Titan’s Curse all by Rick Riordan. While these books are a little below 9th grade level, they dovetail very nicely into the mythology units, and students who may have missed these books in middle school can now make connections to the gods and goddesses of ancient cultures. I also picked up a bagful (20+!) of Anthony Horowitz books: Point Blanc, Scorpia, Crocodile Tears, and Stormbreaker. Thank you to those avid Alex Rider fans!

Grade 10: Night by Elie Wiesel is a core text, as it is in most high schools, and I picked up 11 copies of this memoir. I added 14 almost new copies of Khaled Hosseini’s  The Kite Runner; we almost have 100 copies now for this core text for world literature.

A popular text for 10th grade boys

I found five copies of A Long Way Gone: Memoir of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.Many of my sophomore students, mostly boys, read this book as an independent read. When I asked them what was good about this book, several indicated the pace and action kept their interest. Perhaps the most important testimony came from a student who said the worst part of the book was, “that what happened to Ishmael was real.” Savings on this text ($7.20/paperback) alone was $31.00.

Grade 11: I found two brand new copies of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. I was pleased to see this book re-released and I am planning on adding a few more copies to the Native American unit that starts the year. To complement this non-fiction classic, I located four copies of Michael Dorris’s Yellow Raft in Blue Water, a more contemporary view on Native American life.

Adding this to Memoir class

Adding this to Memoir class

Grade 12: The Memoir class is the easiest to find books for independent reading. I found two copies of It’s all over but the Shoutin‘ by Rick Bragg which came highly recommended. I also located more copies of Alice Sebold’s Lucky which is very popular with my female students. After today, I now have enough copies (50+) of our core text of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, so other buyers will not have any more competition from me.

Will be a core Text in Journalism

I found one copy of Dave Egger’s Zeitoun which will be a core text for Journalism in 2011. This amazing story follows Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, who stays in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Eggers recounts Zeitoun’s journey through the city in acts of heroism, compassion, and tragedy in a riveting narrative. This text is always a “find” for me.

Other: I found five copies of Dava Sorbel’s Longitude, which I plan to share with some science class….not sure who will be the lucky group? The gentleman who tallied up my large order (Thank you, Dick L.?) asked if he could have the sixth copy I had found. I would have happily paid for that copy based on his service; tallying ten bags of books is serious work, but he was happy to have a copy to purchase on his own to give to his grandson. For the psychology teacher, I collected four copies of Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand, and for social studies department, I located five copies of Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis.

There was something for every reader at this book sale. The efficiency of the volunteers re-stacking the tables (always appreciated)  and those working the cashier’s tables made for a smooth event. The chairman of the sale, Mimi Greenlee, and her team of volunteers are to be credited for their efforts. Book dealer “return” bins, well-marked  sections for literary genres, and an express lane for smaller orders made the sale run efficiently. A tent full of Children’s Literature separated from the other genres this year was also appreciated; my biggest competitor here was an eleven year old girl with an armful of paperbacks, which is always a wonderful sight for a teacher.

Total cost for 10 bags of QUALITY TEXTS? $306.00 Several of these books retail for substantially more than $10.00 copy; I figure that my retail cost would have been over $3,000.00.

I felt like Julius Caesar: I came, I choose, I conquered!