Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#1914. Beowulf

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Sat Aug 19 12:47:06 PDT 2000 by Amy Utley (
Walden Pond Charter School, Anchorage, AK
Materials Required: Translation of Beowulf & Original text, Notes on time period, Art supplies
Activity Time: 2 weeks
Concepts Taught: Storyboarding, Relation of literature to culture

This is a great team lesson (History & English). Using notes on the time period, discuss the function of the written word at the time that Beowulf was finally recorded. Ask the students to contemplate how the story was remembered before that time and why.

Look at the original text and review how the English language has changed. Hopefully, in History they have gone over the manner in which England was populated and how this affected language. If not, you can give them a brief overview. After reading a paragraph or two, present the translation so that they can compare the two.

I suggest that Beowulf be read out loud, and that the kids try to have fun presenting it to each other. I don't spend a lot of time on it, however, for I've discovered that they soon lose interest. Instead, after one reading, I divide the class up into groups and assign a piece of the story to each group. Those students must then decide exactly what is happening in their section, and to illustrate the action.

Once everyone is ready, each group presents their portion of the story in order, explaining what they drew and why they depicted those scenes the way they did. I staple their illustrations to the wall.

A follow-up discussion on the original purpose of the story is helpful, as well as an exploration of the symbolism used by the students in their storyboards. Great discussions are a common result.