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 “everyday hero” was coined.
In literature, an 'everyday' or 'common person' has come to mean an ordinary individual that the audience or reader easily identifies with, but who has no outstanding abilities or attributes. An everyday 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.
Time: 45 Minutes
Grade Level: 8-12
What is an everyday 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.
To learn more about other hero types, take a look at our article on "Types of Heroes".
Students will be able to define an “everyday hero”, list various types of heroes from works of literature, film, and television, and take away the effects of an everyday 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 everyday 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 everyday hero.
Be specific when asking students to create a storyboard that shows the actions or events that make an everyday hero. Make sure that students include an explanation of how their chosen character fits the everyday 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 everyday hero throughout the novel. Or couple this assignment with a presentation, see our article on how to present a storyboard.
Examine the archetypal patterns prevalent in Everyman hero stories, such as the hero's journey or the reluctant hero. Teach students to recognize and identify these patterns within the narrative structure.
Discuss the symbolic elements and motifs associated with archetypal patterns in Everyman hero stories. Help students understand the deeper meanings and messages conveyed through these symbols.
Analyze how archetypal patterns influence the development of Everyman hero characters. Discuss how these patterns shape the protagonist's growth, challenges, and transformation throughout the story.
Explore the impact of archetypal patterns on the overall narrative structure. Help students understand how these patterns contribute to the pacing, tension, and resolution of the story.
Discuss the presence of archetypal patterns in different cultural and historical contexts. Analyze how these patterns reflect and resonate with the values, beliefs, and experiences of specific time periods or societies.
Encourage students to reflect on the significance of archetypal patterns in Everyman hero stories. Discuss how these patterns contribute to the universal appeal and enduring popularity of such narratives.
A storyboard is a visual tool that is used to plan out a story or narrative, and typically consists of a series of panels or frames that depict the key scenes or moments. When teaching about the Everyman hero, storyboarding can be an effective way to visually represent the protagonist's journey and illustrate their transformation from an ordinary person into a hero. It can be used to depict the transformation of any character, really, depending on the content of the lesson.
When storyboarding the Everyman hero, it's important to include key plot points and character development moments, such as the protagonist's initial reluctance to take on the heroic task, their encounters with mentors or allies, and their ultimate triumph over obstacles. Additionally, the storyboard should visually depict the protagonist's transformation, both in terms of their physical actions and their emotional growth. Storyboarding can also be used to depict elements of symbolism or recurring motifs to help reinforce key themes and ideas in the story.
Storyboarding provides a visual and interactive way for students to engage with the Everyman hero narrative and explore the key themes and character traits involved. By planning out and visualizing the protagonist's journey, students can gain a deeper understanding of the Everyman hero archetype and its relevance to real-world examples of heroism.
One potential challenge is that some students may struggle with the visual aspect of storyboarding, particularly if they have limited artistic ability or experience. Additionally, some students may find it difficult to conceptualize the narrative structure and pacing of the story, which can impact the effectiveness of their storyboards. To overcome these challenges, it's important to provide clear guidance and support throughout the storyboarding process, and to allow for ample time and feedback to refine and improve students' work.