Unit 3

The Odyssey by Homer (Robert Fagles’ Translation)

English I  


Unit Length and Description:


Nine weeks


Students are introduced to Greek mythology prior to reading Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, in order to develop a deep understanding of Greek culture.  This understanding will also allow students to decipher allusions made in the epic.  Students first learned about the quest motif in grade 4. This set builds on that knowledge, as students will come to understand how great literature reflects life, and how in any journey, be it physical or metaphysical, patience is important for gaining wisdom and experience along the way. Students will explore common ideas across texts, such as how people give value to their lives and the costs of giving into impulse, impiety, temptation, and recklessness. Students will also explore the influence that The Odyssey has on modern life.


This unit will focus on craft and structure and integration of knowledge and ideas.  Writing will be predominately narrative with some focus on informative/explanatory and argumentative.




Reading Literature:


Skill(s): integrating and evaluating diverse formats of media

  • The students can:
    • analyze the representation of a subject or key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.


Skill(s): analyzing two or more literary texts/author’s claims

  • The students can:
    • analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work.


Reading Informational Texts:



Skill(s): integrating and evaluating diverse formats of media

  • The students can:
    • analyze various accounts of a story told in different mediums, determining which details are emphasized in each account.


Skill(s): delineating/evaluating arguments/claims

  • The students can:
    • delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


Skill(s): analyzing two or more informational texts

  • The students can:
    • analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance, including how they address related themes and concepts.





Skill(s): narrative writing

  • The students can:
    • write narratives to develop real or imagines experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences by:
      • engaging and orienting the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; creating smooth progression of experiences or events,
      • using narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines to develop experiences, events, and/or characters,
      • using a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole,
      • using precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters, and
      • providing a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolves over the course of the narrative.


Skill(s): gathering information and assessing credibility

  • The students can:
    • search for and collect credible, useful information from a range of established sources, including print and digital, observations and interviews, evaluating a source’s value based on its authority and relevance to the question students are trying to answer or the problem they are trying to solve, and
    • incorporate the information from their sources into their paper or report, selecting and arranging this information to maintain the flow of text and its ideas and citing all their sources correctly according to the established format so they avoid plagiarism.


Skill(s): drawing evidence to support analysis, reflection, or research.

  • The students can:
    • gather evidence from literary or informational texts to back up students’ claims or explanations when analyzing, reflecting on, or researching a topic or text, and
    • collect evidence for their ideas to analyze and assess the arguments and claims the author makes, evaluating the validity and relevance of the author’s reasoning and evidence to determine if any of the claims are false or if the reasoning is fallacious.


Speaking and Listening


Skill(s): presenting information

  • The students can:
    • present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


Skill(s): using technology

  • The students can:
    • make strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence to add interest.


Skill(s): adapting speech

  • The students can:
    • adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.





Skill(s): determining or clarifying definitions of words with multiple


  • The students can:
    • determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies by:

a)   using context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase,

b)   identifying and correctly using patterns of word changes to indicate different meanings or parts of speech,

c)   consulting general and specialized reference materials, both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, or its etymology, and

d)   verifying the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase.


Skill(s): demonstrating understanding of figurative language

  • The students can:
    • demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meaning by

a)   interpreting figures of speech in context and analyzing their role in the text, and

b)   analyzing nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.


Enduring Understandings:


·         Classic literature allows the reader to understand the past and make connections to the present.

·         All societies and cultures have heroes, and we learn about our own lives through these heroes.

·         Epic heroes were both heroic and flawed and reflect the culture from which they emerged.

·         The social structure of Ancient Greece is fundamentally different than American society today, and thus has different rules for hospitality, revenge and justice, and moral behavior.

·         Some aspects of Odysseus would still be considered heroic today, and others are a specific aspect of Ancient Greek culture.


Essential Questions:


·         Is there value in learning “the classics”?

·         What can Odysseus and his journey teach us about ourselves and our modern society?

·         How do a hero’s attributes and flaws affect his mental, emotional, and physical journey?

·         What ideals to Ancient Greeks and modern Americans have in common?  What ideals are different?

·         When does a story about one person become a story about all of us?