Lesson Examples

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Gregg Landsman

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New York City Board of Education IAUP

IAUP 601 and 606




Lesson Plan:  Modern Mythology

I/O:  Students Will Be Able To identify characteristics of a myth.


  • Standard 2:  Students will read, write, listen and respond for literary response and expression.


  • Paper
  • Pencil/Pen


  1. Do now:  Write down the name of your favorite superhero or movie character.
  2. Ask individual students what names they put down.  Some will be common.  Batman, Hancock, Iron Man, Hellboy.  These are movies they have seen recently or heard about.
  3. Now, let’s jump ahead about…three thousand years.  Let’s say someone around this time finds a review of Iron Man.  What would he think?  Mythology is partially due to distortion. I’ll touch on this soon.  The idea is that in three thousand years, a comic book or movie character could be worshipped or considered a god, much like ancient literary characters such as Gilgamesh or Heracles.
  4. Let me through out another name.  Hercules.  Three thousand years ago, he was considered a God, the God of Strength.  What is his story?  The son of Zeus, completer of twelve labours.  Became a God at the end of his life.
  5. This is Mythology.  What is it?  A collection of stories, called myths.  Okay, so what’s a myth?  A story that explains something unexplainable, or gives a lesson.
  6. Tortoise and the Hare.  Explain the Tortoise and the Hare-this is a fable, a type of myth that teaches a lesson.  Okay, let’s go into explaining the unexplainable.
  7. Perform the disappearing water trick.  A simple trick involving three cups and some talcum powder.  The illusion is that the water vanishes.
  8. I’ll explain the trick if you’re good at the end.  Now, that is the unexplainable.  And the unexplainable, we assume, is supernatural.  That is what myth comes from.  Lightning as bolts from a god.  Earthquakes as the rumblings of a great earth-goddess.  A storm simply the sky dragging behind the chariot of great Thor.  Our ancestors explained nature with these stories.  Why did the water disappear?
  9. Now, for the next ten minutes, I want you to take one of the names you wrote down, and write the origin or another story.  Two to three paragraphs long.  It doesn’t have to be accurate, and I’ll tell you why.
  10. Because myths are not accurate.  But what they do is capture the core of the character.
  11. Read individual writings.


Write an explanation for something you do not know.  Something in nature or technology or science.  It can be ridiculous or accurate, but make it in the form of something fantastic.


Conclusion:  Myths helped our ancestors make sense of the natural world.  Now, modern myths let us provide lessons and examples.  Just because we can explain the natural world does not mean we let go of these fantasies.  As advanced as our science gets, we as humans, still need imagination.