top of page

UP Campaign February 2017

The Hero's Journey: Beginnings

This workshop explored how educators might use the Performance Cycle as a framework for teaching literacy in the classroom. Participants learned how to use the Performance Cycle for thinking about and planning units and lessons.
The day was organized into three blocks, much like a series of lessons in the classroom might be: Literacy Block One, Literacy Block Two, and Centers. Participants learned how to enter a unit, a story, or a project through a hands on experience so that they might take strategies learned and implement them in their classrooms immediately.

"I thought the way you had us engaging with the performance cycle was meaningful and relevant" - Teacher comment

Kurt Wootton, Co-author of A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts  and Co-founder of the ArtsLiteracy Project at Brown University, led today's workshop.
  • What makes a friend?
  • How do friends help each other?
  • How do we create a classroom community of friends?
​KEY STANDARDS (Elementary)
  • Reading Standards Cluster 1: Key Ideas and Details
  • Reading Standards Cluster 3: Compare and Contrast multiple texts
  • Writing Standards: Cluster 1: Narrative Writing
  • Writing Standards: Cluster 2: Communicating with digital tools
  • Who are our heroes?
  • What makes a person a hero?
  • How are heroes human?
  • What can we learn from the Hero’s Journey?
  • Reading. Cluster 1: Reading. Key Ideas and Details (textual evidence, theme developing, character analysis)
  • Writing. Cluster 2: Texts Types and Purposes. (Argument to support claims; real Narrative writing)
  • Comprehension and Collaboration: Cluster 1 and 2 (collaborative discussions; evaluate speaker’s point of view; present information findings)
  • Research. Cluster 3:. (Draw information from literary texts to support analysis)
Focusing on the importance of building community in the classroom, participants explore the social/emotional needs of the student and “socializing intelligence” - Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.
  • Working in table groups, elementary participants answer the essential question "What makes a friend?" through a Friendship Rubric.  
  • Secondary participants play ABC Storytelling, an improvised story circle, to focus on the core elements of an epic journey tale, and share personal stories to connect to the big ideas of the text in Micro-storytelling. 
Participants learn a variety of strategies to activate text, or provide a "hook," with text in their classrooms.  Found Poetry uses key words from the story to create a poem. As a group, they collaborate to figure out how to deliver the poem.
Definition of “comprehend” - from latin "prehendere"- to grasp, take hold of, seize. How can we help students to “grasp” the story and make it their own?
  • Elementary participants become "A Room Full of Professors," focusing on an aspect of the story (key details about setting, characters, or events) during a read aloud of Ollie's Odyssey. They then share their "findings" with their group.
  • Secondary participants used a traditional strategy, Marking Up Text, in a new way, creating works of art from the opening of Homer's The Odyssey.  
To bring "original energy" to the learning, participants create their own text from what they have read and understood in the literature.
  • Character Profile and Building Your Friend Elementary participants create their very own “favorite friend.” Much of children’s literature is based on this idea of friendship, particularly between a child and a toy or animal. Participants explore the idea of establishing a creative, or maker space, during center time. They develop a character profile and then make an imaginary friend out of felt.
  • Heroic Portraits. Secondary participants interview a partner and develop a poem about their heroic traits, in the style of Homer's Odyssey.
To wrap up the morning, there is an authentic sharing of student work, as would happen at the end of the unit.
  • Elementary participants choose a key line or phrase from their character profile to introduce their friend to the group. In a circle everyone brings their friend to life!
  • Secondary participants create a "brick" with their partner's heroic poem and assemble them into a wall of heroes. 
At the heart of the Performance Cycle is Reflection. Throughout the morning, the discusses how they might adapt and incorporate the strategies in their own classrooms and schools.


"It is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.’” - Surgeon General, Murthy

"From start to finish, the breakdown of the Performance Cycle makes it very clear and applicable to my classroom." - Teacher comment

"The engagement and development of interacting with text helps promote comprehension.  Also you can bring many standards into the unit that will be carried throughout the year.  Loved the book “Ollie’s Odyssey” and the design sketch.  This can be used in many new units!" - Teacher comment

Valuable Planning Time
This workshop focused on providing support and guidance in the basics of unit planning while allowing participants to actively plan a unit for their classrooms. They collaborated in grade levels across schools and with their school teams.
bottom of page