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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Odyssey

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The Odyssey can feel as long as Odysseus's journey itself, but Shmoop is here to guide you through Homer's greatest hits.

In this guide you won't find donuts and beer (that's a different Homer) but you will find

  • modern connections, like soldiers relating to the Odyssey and a version of the story retelling it from Penelope's point of view.
  • reading quizzes checking students' knowledge of the oddities of the Odyssey.
  • an activity for students to recreate scenes from The Odyssey.

And so much more.

Forget the wisdom of the gods—they're trying to trick you anyway. Trust the wisdom of Shmoop.

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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: We know, we know. You can't play games in class every day, but a rousing game of Jeopardy is a great way to review your students' knowledge of The Odyssey

And if you've ever created a game of Jeopardy (for a class activity, a family fun night, an engagement party, or any event at all), you understand that by the time you've finished putting the categories, questions, and answers together, you have that information down. 

That's why, after your students play a game of Jeopardy in class, they'll work in groups to create their own Jeopardy rounds based on The Odyssey.

Length of Lesson: 2-3 class periods (one to play a round of Odyssey Jeopardy and give students their assignment; one for students to work together to create their own Odyssey Jeopardy rounds; and, if you like, one to play again, using one or more of the students' games)

Materials needed: 

  • Large monitor, projector, or SmartBoard with Internet access
  • Access to Jeopardy Labs' Odyssey Jeopardy10 
  • [Optional] A different bell or buzzer for each team
  • Computers students can use to create their own Jeopardy games at Jeopardy Labs*

*Alternately, students can create their games using the low-tech option: posterboard + markers.

Step 1: In advance of class, ready your Smartboard, projector, or monitor so students will be able to see the Odyssey Jeopardy game. 

JeopardyLabs.com has several ready-made versions, all of which allow you to choose the number of teams playing and keep score easily by clicking the (+)  and (-) symbols below each team number. We recommend using Jeopardy Labs' Odyssey Jeopardy10, but you can find other options by searching the site with the keyword "Odyssey." 

Step 2: When your class comes in,divide them into teams. (We recommend three teams, but if you have a big class, you may want to do four.) Explain the basic rules:

  1. You'll read the question (er, "answer") aloud. The first team to [buzz in, ring its bell, squeak its squeaky toy, raise a hand] will get a chance to answer (um, "question"). If that team answers (or whatever) incorrectly, the points are still up for grabs. Again, the first team to [buzz in, ring its bell, squeak its squeaky toy, raise a hand] will get a chance to answer. And so forth. Until someone gets it right and wins the points.   
  2. Teams that answer incorrectly will have the value of the question deducted from their scores. 
  3. The team with the most points when all categories have been exhausted will be the winner. 

Step 3: Play! 

Step 4: Now it's time for students to create their own Jeopardy rounds using information from the Odyssey. Here are some guidelines you can offer them:

  • Feel free to make up your own categories, and be creative. Anything Odyssey related is fair game.
  • Your "questions" should be in the form of answers, so that people answer by asking a question
  • You should shoot for five categories with five questions each, ranging in point value from 100 - 500.
  • Questions at lower point values (100) should be easier than questions at higher point values (500). 
  • You can use your books, class notes, and Shmoop's guide to the Odyssey to compose your answers/questions. 

We recommend having your students use Jeopardy Labs online building template to create their games. They'll have to create a password that will allow them to edit their template, but they don't need to join or establish accounts. The games they create will be in the public domain.

If you don't have enough computers to accommodate all groups, they could always go low-tech (posterboard + markers), or write their questions and take turns typing them into the template (if there is only one computer available in class).  

Step 5: Play again! If you have time, use one or more of the student created games to continue your review of The Odyssey

(Lesson aligned with CA English Language Arts 9th & 10th grade reading standards 3.3, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7; 11th & 12th grade reading standards 3.2, 3.3, 3.4)

TEKS Standards: §110.32. English Language Arts and Reading, English II b: 2C, 3, 7, 13B, 18A, 18B, 19, 24, 26 §110.31. English Language Arts and Reading, English I b: 2C, 3, 7, 13B, 18A, 18B, 19, 24, 26

Instructions for Your Students

  • This is the number of people who don't enjoy the game Jeopardy.
  • What is "zero"?
  • Correct!

Okay, so maybe there are a few people out there who don't enjoy a rousing game of Jeopardy. (Or may it's Alex Trebek's smug corrections they don't enjoy.) Still, it's a great way to review all the information in The Odyssey, and lucky you—you're going to play in class today. 

But that's not all! (Ahem: you should read that sentence in your best game show announcer voice.)

You're also going to work in groups to create your own Odyssey Jeopardy games, which means you're going to be an Odyssey trivia champ by the end of this lesson, and that, dear Shmoopsters, will take you far in life. (Or at least in Jeopardy.)

Step 1: Divide into teams in class. Your teacher will tell you how many teams you need. 

Step 2: Play a round of Odyssey Jeopardy. Your teacher will review the rules so everyone's on the same page. Good luck!

Step 3: Now that you've seen (and played) a sample round of Jeopardy based on The Odyssey, it's time for you to work with your team to create your own. Here are some guidelines for you to keep in mind while you're creating your game:

  • You can feel free to make up your own categories, and be creative. Anything Odyssey related is fair game.
  • Your "questions" should be in the form of answers, so that people will answer them by asking a question
  • You should shoot for five categories with five questions each, ranging in point value from 100 - 500.
  • Questions at lower point values (100) should be easier than questions at higher point values (500). 
  • You can use your books, class notes, and Shmoop's guide to the Odyssey to compose your answers/questions. 

Step 4: If you have time, continue your review of The Odyssey by playing one (or more) of the rounds developed by your classmates. And hey—when it comes time to use your questions, try to be at least as gracious a host as Mr. Trebek (wait for it ... around the :45 second mark). 

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Common Core Standards  

The following standards are covered in this course:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE ODYSSEY?

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Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Photos    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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