We often find ourselves in a situation where we meet an ordinary person with admirable heroism. Everyday people can display extraordinary qualities, like the good Samaritan who runs in to help after an accident. These people possess internal qualities that make them a hero, and because of them, the term “everyman hero” was coined.
Time: 45 Minutes
Grade Level: 8-12
What is an everyman hero and how do I know who they are? Teaching students this literary term, asking them to think deeply about a hero's attributes or hero traits, and to consider how these affect the work as a whole are great ways to ensure students grasp fully appreciate many modern texts.
In literature, an 'everyman' has come to mean an ordinary individual that the audience or reader easily identifies with, but who has no outstanding abilities or attributes. An everyman hero is one who is placed in extraordinary circumstances and acts with heroic qualities. While lacking the talent of the classical hero, they exhibit sound moral judgment and selflessness in the face of adversity.
To learn more about other hero types, take a look at our article on "Types of Heroes".
Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core standards for Grades 9-10. Please see your Common Core standards for the correct grade-appropriate standards.
Students will be able to define an “everyman hero”, list various types of heroes from works of literature, film, and television, and take away the effects of an everyman hero on plot.
What students should know and be able to do before starting this lesson: Students should be able to list various heroes from multiple genres.
Some students will have prior knowledge and may know the definition of a hero and confuse the everyman hero with a classical hero.
Teaching the Term: Students will be given the worksheet on the various types of heroes and instructed to fill in the boxes to the best of their ability. Do not give students the definition of each type yet, simply ask them to list heroes and try to categorize them without your assistance. If students cannot fill in a particular part, then instruct them that they may leave it blank. After 5-10 minutes, ask students to compare lists with someone sitting near them. Then, ask each pair to say one type of hero out loud and complete a master list on the board.
Defining the term: After students have categorized each type of hero, ask them to come up with their definition for each type. Once the students have shared each definition with the class, give them the textbook definitions and see how close they were!
After students have finished reading a novel or play that includes a hero, reinforce this lesson by asking them to complete their storyboard showing the hero and their attributes with a scene and quote from the text. This lesson extension, coupled with a slide show presentation, will help students master the concept of the everyman hero.
Be specific when asking students to create a storyboard that shows the actions or events that make an everyman hero. Make sure that students include an explanation of how their chosen character fits the everyman hero definition. It is always important for students to include evidence that backs up their claim. If they are doing this as a project, having the students download their storyboards to a PowerPoint using the feature in the Storyboard Creator toolbar is a perfect way for them to explain each cell.
Have students attach their storyboard to a paper that requires them to give an in-depth explanation of the everyman hero throughout the novel. Or couple this assignment with a presentation, see our article on how to present a storyboard.
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