Ah, to be a world literature teacher in the modern day- no less in crazy 2020! I don’t know about you, but Beowulf has been a long time favorite of mine! Who doesn’t love a fantastic epic hero story?!? Slaying monsters, boasting, drinking, and slaying some more monsters! This blog post will shed some light on how I have brought Beowulf into the 21st century for my students.
The challenge before me was that some students were in class with me, but some were digital. When covering Beowulf, my students typically feed off of my energy while in class and the outrageous theatrics I put on while we cover it. How the heck was I going to engage not only my face-to-face students who had proudly “not read in months” let alone my quarantined digital students?!?
That’s when the bright idea popped into my head to try something new! We’re trying everything else new this year, so why not?
I went back to one of my FAV podcasts- Myths and Legends. I remembered that he had done a three part series on Beowulf and I loved it! The host brings his dry humor and occasional modern day connections/summaries with it as well. It took some time, but I made some listening sheets for when students were taking in the audio. But, it’s also a LIT class!
Thankfully, I also have my copy of the Seamus Heaney version that was being used in the podcast as well. As I listen to the podcast again, I would note some areas that would benefit from them actually reading the text and would take excerpts from the text and insert it into the listening sheets.
We would pause the audio and then read the text together in detail. We would annotate what was happening and how it reinforced the thematic topics we were discussing. We took a day to “boast like Beowulf”. If they were here in class, I encouraged them to give them loud and proud- which resulted in many standing on their desk and proudly displaying all of their achievements! If they were on digital they got to do the same via things like Flip Grid!
This may have been the most engaged I have had my students with Beowulf thus far. We took about two weeks to cover it and several weeks later they are still referencing it to each other. “You’re such a Grendel” has become a popular slam and boys announcing “I AM BEOWULF” when they’re feeling particularly proud happens often. So, in a way, I’m grateful for this challenge and the chance to bring a 2,000 year old classic to my modern students in a way that we’ll never forget!
Several other teachers have had similar success with this mini unit:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Kim C.
My students loved this resource! It engaged them and helped guide them through the challenging content, and I found it to be fairly adaptable for various overall units. I used it primarily for in person learning, but it also worked well for students who were on digital while we completed it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐– Kyle L.
This resource is perfect for the hybrid classroom. I was very worried about teaching Beowulf this year but this had everything I needed to keep my students engaged.
⭐⭐⭐⭐- Southern ELA Teacher
This was great to supplement our study of Beowulf. I had a sub for two days in the middle of the unit and this was easy for them to do without losing content days. After our test, several students said that the podcast helped them remember important facts.
If this sounds like something that could help you in your classroom, I welcome you to visit my TPT storefront! You can find this mini unit here.